Monday, March 30, 2015

Conference Week!!!!

I only have one "official" question for you this week: The LDS community holds hands with BSA here. What can you tell me about the scouting program in Spain?: 

Well I can answer that easily, there is no scouting program here, just soccer teams.

This week has been really good and this next week will be even better. We had a lot of visits, many were not planned visits, but nonetheless visits that have been spiritually enriching. Last night we had a visit with this family from Bolivia and we haven´t seen them since my second week here in Badalona. It was a quick, little visit and as we were walking back to the church we were talking about how we need more quick visits so we can just present the spirit and then take it with us when we leave, letting them wanting more. They are so good.

So this week is conference and I know what you are going to say "do you get to watch it live?". The answer is yes we watch saturday morning on saturday night and the rest on sunday as recorded transmissions.

The church is doing another "Él es la dadiva". the thing the church did during december with the christmas video. THe church is doing an easter video. I don´t know a lot about it yet, but the video is great! watch it on the front of the church´s website

What else? There was a baptism for the hermanas in the other ward on saturday.

um...I had an interview with president pace, which is my last one with him because he goes home in 3 MONTHS!!! that´s so weird. He told me a nice quote that he was told by Elder Olsson who came to the mission tour a few weeks ago. "the only thing sad, is if you’re sad". That really hit me thinking that I need to be more happy and grateful for all the little blessings I have in my life.

Well family I just want to send you this email with a little of my testimony of the commandments of God. As a missionary here in Barcelona, I have a chance to see the black and white differences of the church and the world. As the scriptures say "they set their hearts upon the things of the world." Many people here have the idea that happiness is in things. It is sad for those to be lost of the times of the "here, now" moment, but we should never brag or feel envious as members for we have to work to keep our testimony of faith burning. Many break the commandments and think that they are free, but they wind up in sin. Commandments are here to protect us and keep us safe. (good video ) Our Heavenly Father knows us and so he has sent us prophets to lead us and guide us. Let us prepare our hearts and minds to be humble and receptive to the words of President Thomas S. Monson to live happy lives this week and forever.

Family and friends I love you all and pray for health and blessings will come to you all this next week.

con amor,
Elder Gonzalez

Monday, March 23, 2015

Just Another Great Day in Spain!!!

more questions:
From mom:
"Europe is no longer a safe place for Jews."  Have you noticed any negativity? :Nope  it might say some stuff on the posters we pass by but I don´t see anything.

Someone just told me about a television program talking about the drought in Spain.  Is there a drought in your area?  If yes, are there water-usage restrictions? :I don´t think there is a drought in our area but it has rained the past few weeks.
before I answer anymore questions first off, mom, learn your geography.  Barcelona is east of madrid and north of malaga!   Also the guy across from me sounds like a piggon and smalls really bad on smoke, it´s creeping me out.
A few weeks ago mom sent me a few questions:
what scripture spoke to you?: Alma 48:7 we are being prepared both mind and spirit and body to fight agaist the adversary.
What made you smile this past week?:  biking in barcelona and our visit with Flor.
And what made you turn prayerfully to the Lord?:  When I feel down and my talents are not as grand as others, I pray to Heavely Father and ask him for peace and comfort to my heart.  I know he lives.
We this has been a great week.  Last week we went riding around barcelona on bikes.  It was a lot of fun.  I would send pictures but this computure doesn´t have a memory stick connector.   Sorry, but it was a lot of fun.  There were like 20+ of us missionaries from barcelona and badalona riding around on bikes in barcelona in the streets and by the beach.  by companion was on a taddom bike with another elder.
We have found a lot of miracle this past week.  We have found 11 new investigators by just contacting on the streets here.  It´s such a blessing.  When our visits fire on us we find a quiet area and say a prayer and then go finding.  The Lord always lets us find success here when we pray.  For example last night we found only Spaniads (catalans acutaly) and were able to speak with them and get some phone numbers to teach them this week.  We also had a good lesson with this family last night and taught them the restoration.  The mother had a BOM that she has had for years and answered a lot of their questions.  Afterwards we had watermelon juice =)!
Flor is this lady we met with for the first time this past week at her home and she is a golden investigator!  She just loved everything we taught her.  She came to english class this week with us and later came to a ward activity with us right before we had a lesson with her and placed a baptismal fecha on her plus she came to 2 out of 3 hours of church this week.
I´ve been doing some numbers this transfer and I have passed out 17 BOMS so far in the transfer!
We had a really good district meeting this week, we learned about revelation and watched the "paterns of light" by elder bednar.  This week we have interviews with President Pace, I´m excited because I love talking with him.
I´m feeling really good this past week.  I love praying and I love my calling as a missionary.  I love to share my testimony and feeling like a servent of the Lord.  Elder streiff and I have made a program to help members build confidence and share the gosple and seek referrals.
Well family I don´t have a lot of time left but I want to share my testimony.  I know the church is true.  I know that when we keep the commandments like the Word of wisdom and the law of chastity, we recieve blessings from the Lord.  I know God lives and he loves us and has a plan for all of us here on earth.  I know that the book of mormon is the word of God and it bless all those who read it and they can find out for themselves that Jesus is the Christ.  I love you all and pray for your safety and health.  Have a wonderful week.

Elder Gonzalez

Monday, March 16, 2015

A Long, Challening, but Rewarding Week

First the Questions: (ps please make the questions easier to see for me to read and answer back)

from dad:

You mentioned before about teaching an English class, is that part of your service time or is an organized class that all missionaries do in your mission? :Well the classes are something that the whole mission does.  It´s a way to do service and also to find new investigators.  But this last conference this week, president pace might shut it down because it isn´t getting the numbers we are looking for in this program, but I hope it doesn´t get shut down.

From mom:

Are you feeling more comfortable with the language?:  Well I can do A LOT more than I could do at the beginning, but I´m not a language guy and so it´s really hard for me to speak and study languages.  I try to speak as much as I can by praying in spanish and thinking in spanish, but it´s really hard to just speak a second language when your primary language is so much easier.  I just need more patience and I need to rely on the arm of the Lord for help because "I´m nothing without him".

Do you feel that you are gaining more confidence?  :  In the mission I have gained more confidence, but not the kind of confidence that makes me prideful or think highly of others.  It´s more like a quiet "I can do it now" attitude because I can´t do this work of the Lord without the Lord.  He´s key.  Talking to people on the street is not as hard as it was when I first started, but talking to people on buses and trains is still really hard and I don´t have the confidence to talk to them yet.  In essence it´s just I can do what I can do in my abilities and with the Lord’s help.

With upcoming GC, how will that work for your mission with the time difference?:  I´m not sure yet, but will let you know.  I´m sure it´ll be like Castellón, watch it at the church, if it works...

Why do you think that so many people in Spain live together without getting married?  Gma mentioned something about the high cost of getting married.  Any insight?:  I´m not sure, but a high cost is a good reason for it, but I believe it´s the hand of the devil making" good look bad and bad look good."  Because there are many divorces here.  Also there are many people who don´t have that testimony of the humility and charity that we have to know that we need to make sacrifices and there is no "I" in we. The family, a proclamation to the world was written 20 years ago and now we see the effect when men choose not to follow the prophets and live in the consequences of their choices.  That would be my guess that they chose not to get married because they are not willing to make such a commitment.

Well anyway, this week has been really fun and long too.  We didn´t have district meeting because of the mission tour this past week.  We had Elder Olsson from the 3rd quorum of the 70.  He and his wife are from sweden and speak english really well.  It was really good.  It was a mulit-zone conference spanning 3 days because our mission is so big.  I really took some good notes and plan on putting them to action for this week.  I am very grateful to have a wonderful president and his wife to do so much for us.  They are so kind to us and really love us as if they were our parents.

We do lots of running lately because this is our healthy month.  We are eating less junk food and doing more exercise.  We wake up at 7 to do exercises such as basketball at a park or go running.

I don´t have a lot of time left but I want to share a little of what I know about humility.  I have been wondering what humility is this past week because it is something people keep telling me about me, but I just don´t see it, so I have been doing some research and I have come with a conclusion that humility is the ability to accept the correction that the Lord gives us and by the challenges he places in our path (see "the will of God" mormon message also "refiner fire" another mormon message).  I know that as we remember that our success is not ours but comes from our father in heaven.  I know that some day I´ll be able to speak spanish as well as dad and become bilingual, but at this point I will walk along the path of mistakes and at times I´ll fall but will not stay down.  I´ll take the hand of the savior and walk forward step by step and walk his path.  We have lots of people who slam doors on us and want not of us, but it´s not by my talents alone that we´ll be able to gain referrals or have baptisms, but it´ll be by the hand of the Lord that will prepare the hearts of his children.  I just wanted to share a little with what I know or what I think about humility.  We can make a difference in the lives of other people as do service and give them compliments.

Family I love you all and hope you have a great week.

le amo,

Elder Gonzalez

Monday, March 9, 2015

Another Long Week Has Passed, But This Week...

More questions:

From dad:

Are you walking as much as you did in Castellon?: Not as much, but we have a TON of hills.  It gives my calves a good workout every day, especially when we are running home and it´s 9:55pm and we have to be home by 10pm.  Exact obedience stuff, no biggy.

Is the bus service more reliable there in your area?:  Yes, and it uses the same card we use for the metros, but we don´t use it that often because we walk mostly unless we are late.

How far are you from the mission home?:  We were just at the mission home and picked up some letters this morning because Elder Streiff had to go a doctor’s appointment and picked up my letters!  one from mom, erica, and one of my companions.  It´s small, only town small floors of an apartment building, but in the richest area of Barcelona.  A rumor has it that our mission home costs more to keep it clean plus own it than it took to build the Madrid temple....weird huh.  No but it´s like 40 minutes by metro, so not too bad.

How are your investigators progressing?:  We have these two domincan Republic investigators who accepted a baptismal fecha and the wife is really good and reads and the husband is normally gone.  The only problem is that they are not married, I think, but it´s weird because they have 6 kids.  The family a proclamation to the world.....  We had this other couple who is from Peru.  The husband is a less-active but coming back, and the wife´s a catholic but has a strong interest in the church.  She reads and prays.  We have been teaching them, but had to pass them off to the Hermanas because they live in their area, but again not married (the family a proclamation to the world......really.....just get married!!!)  We have another good part-member family.  A less-active father but not coming back as much as the other guy (he´s from ecuador) and the wife is an investigator who wants to get baptized (she´s from the dominican republic) but AGAIN NOT MARRIED (THE FAMILY A PROCLAMATION TO THE WORLD!!!!!!!!!!).  But other than that we have just some flaky people who just don´t do a whole lot other than listen to us, but don´t act upon anything we teach.

Does Spain have a change of time in the spring as we do here?:  Yes, we are an hour back but will change in the spring for daylight savings.  It´s very sunny in the morning,  its´s good for basketball and running!

mom´s question:

I have a question this week:  Do you ever do FHE with investigators?:  All the time.  the members want us to have FHE with them, but it´s a little hard to arrange them but yes we have them a lot.  They are a lot of fun.  If you have some ideas that will help, please send some.  Some of the members here have a notebook that they write down all of their FHEs since the dawn of time.  It´s a great idea because they really make FHE an importance in their lives because it’s a way we show the Lord our love and obedience to his commandments to have a wholesome time to share love and the gospel within our own home.  Have FHE with another family in the ward if you can´t by yourselves.

Well those are the questions for this week.

We had a really good week this week.  We had 27 lessons.  20 or more are really good.  We find a lot of new investigators here.  Elder Streiff and I have come to a conclusion that new investigators are the fuel in the mission.  They go through the teaching machine and turn into progressing investigators or get spit out as interigators and go into the area book for other missionaries to teach, but we have quite a few good investigators right now.

We got 2 new Hermanas that are white washing (I believe it´s called "pink washing" if you’re a sister.)  because of the mini transfer because of last transfer because of tension in the last pair of sisters.  But these hermanas are the best.  The senor is 1 transfer behind me, training, a sister trainer leader, pink washing, and doesn´t speak perfectly.  Many people don´t have faith in them because of the area they are in.  They say that their area hasn´t seen really any growth since the ward split last summer, but I know that they are going to beat the odds.

Last Preparation day we went hiking in the mountains.  It was nice to wear shorts.  Today we went to hospital because Elder Streiff has some really bad acne problems.  The medicine is destroying his face, but he has a good attitude with it.  We get the same question every week.  "what happened to your face?" or for me "why didn´t your dad teach you spanish?"  questions that are so annoying, but whatever.

This week we have our mission conference with a member of the European mission presidency.  I´m so excited to listen to a great talk!

Well family, I have to get off soon, so I´ll leave you with some thought that have been on my mind.  I read a great talk by Elder Oaks this week in the Liahona called " stand as witnesses of God".  It was a really good talk.  Sometimes we fall in this trap of trying to be religious, politically correct and try not to offend anyone, but we need to stand in the faith of Christ and do what we can to spread the gospel in both our public and private life.  Satan is trying to hide the presence of the hand of the Lord in our lives by trying to use politics to hinder our public speech.  I loved this talk.

Also I have to share my testimony of prayer again.  I have talked a lot of prayer, but It is more than a commandment.  It is a spiritually renewing process.  When I pray it is a literal communication with God, the creator of your spirits and our father in heaven.  I wish more people know that they can use this moment.  We have both morning and night to speak with him to receive his guidance and direction that we need to receive peace and security in a world of changes and demoralizing standards ( I know because I can´t walk down a street without seeing very inappropriate clothing and language, and sin looking so appealing like smoking and drinking.)  Prayer is my favorite thing right behind the Book of Mormon.  If you want to speak to God, pray.  If you want God to speak to you, read the scriptures)

Well family, I love you all and pray for health and blessings to you all personally in my prayers.  I know this gospel is true and the love the savior has for me "he´s crazy for me" (institute joke).

Les quiero,


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

the Beginning of a New Transfer with New Beginnings

So first off I´ll answer some questions that you guys have.

from dad:

have you had some Crema Catalana? (it is like a custard):  I´m not sure if I´ve had that yet, but the pastries are good here.

Have you had Jamon Iberico?  (they say it is about $100 a pound):  I have had Jamon here but it´s the cheap kind you buy at the store, not the big huge pig legs that are just hanging in the store windows.

have you eaten Pinchos or Papas?:  I´m not sure yet because members don´t feed us here that much.

How about montaditos?:  I don´t know what that is either.

all these dishes looked great and simple to make i hope that had some. What has been your favorite dish so far?:  Everything.  Tortilla de patata (or papas) on spanish bread with jamon and tomatoes.  also south american dishes like rice and beans :)  We visited with a member who´s from mexico and had these really good casadias.  They were so good.  Piella is good too.  Pastries are so good here.  We had this barbeque 2 weeks ago that was to die for. =)

How are your cooking skills so far?  there is always pasta and macaroni.:  My cooking skills are above par.  I have made 2 apple pies this transfer and it´s not that hard to make actually.  In total I have made 5 apple pies!  We make good food here in piso.  I´ve made fried chicken and salads.

mom questions:

You saw Meet the Mormons. Did you see that as a zone?  We don't have access to the copy yet, so I'm wondering if you missionaries are given a copy as a missionary tool.:  we saw meet the mormons in a zone conference 2 weeks ago but no we don´t have it to show our investigators.

What did you eat for breakfast this morning?  dinner yesterday?:  Breakfast normally consists of granola with yogurt,  yum, and fruit.  Lunch here is your dinner there if a member or investigator feeds because in spain dinner is lunch.  yesterday we had some bolivian bread at a member’s home for noche de hogar.

What scripture spoke to you this past week?:  the change of the lamanities when ammon and his brethren go out for 14 years and serve the lord.  I´m in alma in my scripture reading right now.  I know that this is a true book.  The spirit of God was with Ammon when he spoke with the king Lamoni and with Aaron when he spoke with and converted the lamanties into the anti-nephi-lehis.  I love my english scriptures.  If only i had the spanish enough to mark up my spanish scriptures (which I am but not as much as my english)  I love reading the book of mormon.  There´s nothing like reading the book of mormon from front to back.  I don´t know a lot, so I read the Book of Mormon to learn more of my identity of a child of God.

What made you smile this past week?:  A fresh-baked apple pie and the people you meet when you contact people.  THere was a guy we met yesterday in which we had to explain like 12 times we´re not jehova witnesses.  Also, on saturday we met a chinese man who knew some english because he taught english in china.  He told us to move to china because we can earn more money there than here in spain.  Also, the letters from mom, but i loved the letter I got from grandpa and grandma; that put a big smile on my face.

What made you turn prayerfully to the Lord?:  What makes me turn the lord is the humility I have for this work.  If anyone says that their mission is easy they are lying and had not had hard times or worked hard enough.  I turn to the lord in every prayer as a literal communication with my father in heaven.  I don´t rush through it.  I take time and think about what the lord has blessed me with and thank him for his love and help.  I ask for what I need and after the prayer I take a minute to wait to feel the spirit to confirm the question to my heart.  I pray for the gift of tongues.  Prayer to me is a tool.  I pray for the lord to bless us.  Í pray to Heavenly Father who knows me perfectly and knows what is going in my life right now and how he can help me.

well those are the questions.  I have a little time left but so you all know, I´m still in Badalona with Elder Streiff for another transfer.  We had a lot of fun this past transfer.  We have 3 new baptismal fechas and I think they will be good.  I love you all and pray that you´ll have a wonderful week.  see ya next week.