Monday, April 27, 2015

Great News! We Might Get iPads

First off, I just read in the noticias that the mission sends to us every week, and President and Hermana Pace just went to a conference this past week, about missionary work and digital technology.  Next week we are going to have a conference about how to use this in practice with what we are to do.  They say that they are going to have 15 missions in Europe try it out and all 3 spain missions got approved!  So we´ll wait and see what happens.  Other than that I don´t know yet because we´ll find out in the conference with President and Hermana Pace.



How long has your companion been in Pamplona?: 2 transfers plus this one, 3.  (transfers =6 weeks,so t+t =2t, 2(6weeks) =12 weeks.  I may be on a mission, but my math is still kicking.  For example the other day I was using algebra to find how much of my daily vitamin c I was getting in each cough drop, which is 7.5% by the way.)

How many people are getting ready to be baptized?:  We have a few people who could if they wanted to but are held back because of something.  I came here and we had no investigators with baptismal fechas, but we have a few investigators who are progressing nicely.  We have Lizeth and Kismary.

What is your mailing address?: Calle or C/Benjamin de Tudela 11,3A  Pamplona 31008

Have you been in one of the bullfight rings yet?: nope

Are there any of the members in the ward that have tried to be or are bullfighters?:  I don´t know but I would think no, but I´m not sure.

How far do you live from the Citadel ?:  I don´t know what that is, and no I don´t know how far that is, but there is a big castle that surrounds that city and we live like 15 by bus.  We live 30 minutes by bus from our area.  We live in the other elders’ area.  i don´t like it that much, but we are close to the church, like 5 minutes walking.

Are all 4 of you Elders in Pamplona live in the same piso?: yes, one elder named Elder Defendis who is like me, a half mexican.  But I´m not sure because his mom was born in the states but her parents are mexican.  So I´m not alone.

How often will you get the mail that is sent to your mission office?:  Once a month when the Zone leaders go down to Barcelona and have consilio with the mission president, once a month at the beginning of the month, like today.  They go down and have an all-day meeting and come back because we have a zone infoque this week on wednesday and so we are going north to victoria.  It´s an hour and a half bus ride.


This week's "official questions"   I was reading that April 22-24 is a Spanish holiday of Moros y Christianos where reenactments of the battle are performed.  Anything in your city?  Also, how about Semana Santa?  What are your observations of that holy week?:  Well this past week there was San Jorge, some holiday that I don´t really understand, with fair rides and candy and people dressed up as middle age people with really big paper mashe (I think that’s how you spell it) heads.  They were everywhere, but I don´t know what holiday you’re talking about.  Semana Santa is the week of easter by the way.

So cool thing happened this week.  we came out of an eating visit and were waiting at a crosswalk and guess what?  The google car went by, so now I´m on the internet.  I got my photo taken at 1:18pm  22 de abril 2015 at C/ capuchinos, line 7 of the bus line here in pamplona.  so if they post the pictures up I´m online.

On the bus this past week I talked to a lady who was from Penn.  She came here to spain for a study abroad in college and found someone, has been living here for 15 years.  It was nice to talk to someone in english and not british english or african English.

I have been thinking this past week, and Pamplona is a great city and very beautiful especially the green parks and trees.  But one thing that hit me this past week is that fact that there are a lot of dandelion weeds here.  They are very bright and yellow and may look pretty, but like all weeds they steel nutrition from other plants.  Just like the gospel, sin may look enticing or fun, but still sin is sin and takes us farther away from our loving Heavenly Father.  Many people are drowning in sin, are spiritually dying and refuse to grab on to the flotation device of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  "Wickedness never was happiness" and that phrase still rings in 2015.  Sometimes I fell really sorry for the members that live in Europe because they live in a world where the great and spacious building is ever present and they hold fast to the iron rod I think more than we do in the Utah bubble.  I can´t tell how many times I walk down the street and see so much pornographic images of women with little or nothing on and the people here just think that it is normal or beautiful.  It makes me sick sometimes because of the commandment to keep clean and safe and there are too many people "spiritually drowning" because of these photos.  Keep the commandments family.  They are loving protection from our Heavenly Father.  I know that to be true.  On Sunday a lady gave her testimony in Sacrament meeting and she said that the gospel is like a pair of spiritual sunglasses that allows us to discern good from evil.
I love you all family and pray for health and strength for all of you.  Have a great week and feed your soul with scripture reading and prayers every day.

con amor,

Élder Gonzalez

ps. a lady at church asked me to reach up on the highest shelf in the cleaning closet to get some toilet paper.  It´s good to be tall :)!!!

Monday, April 20, 2015

New area and new experiences!!!!

from dad:  Where is your companion from?:  My campanion is named Élder Dixon and he is from Bountiful UT.

and How are his language skills?:  He has a year and half+ on the mission and speaks really good. mine still needs a lot of help, but I´m getting there.
How many prospects for baptism are you currently teaching?:  There a lot of investigtors here but the problem is that it´s hard to keep track of everyone and so we´ll lose people if we are not on top of things.
How is the new ward that you are in?:  Our ward is the biggest ward in the mission with like 200+ people.  The reason that the ward hasn´t split yet is because of full paying melchizedek priesthood holders.  It´s a big problem here in Spain.  But it is a lot of fun if you´re the tallest person there and your name is Gonzalez.  I still get the same questions asked.  How tall are your?  Your name is latino, where are your from?  Do you play basketball?

About how many members meet in the ward?
: 200+
Are there any other missionaries in your area?  :  there are 2 other elders here in the city that make up the district, yeah a small district.

And Where are 
  your district boundaries?:  We have the entire providence of Navarra  in our district.  We have the top half that touches Bilboa(see a map).  And half of the city of Pamplona
What kind of train did you ride?  Gpa was wondering if it was a bullet train.  :  A bullet train of course...just kidding but yes a really fast bullet train that took 4 hours!!!!
Do you personally pay for the fare?  : no we have the office pay online and pick up the ticket at a computer at the station.
Dad felt like the office would cover the fare, but I think that's out of your own pocket, right? :no because it is very expensive like 50euros or more.
 How many members were in church today?  : 200+
What's the mix of natives and immigrants? :  its interesting because it´s like 50/50.  Half spaniards and half from south america.  It´s a fun ward with a lot of JAS (YSA)
Is the church building a new one like at Castellon?:  no it´s really old like the one in badalona.  It´s a rented out area above a couple of bars and so it´s always a little awkward walking to church in nice clothes and people are smoking and drinking and staring at you.  But it´s really clean.  The city is a really clean, green, nice and hip city.  very modern and hardly any geot areas or sketchy spots.  It´s a rich, traditional european area.  I almost feel like I´m in Germany or the UK.
Well, I´m doing something that Elder Streiff has been doing which is writing the thoughts I have during the week in my planner so I can tell them to you.  Here they are:
I saw a black bishop for the first time.
Pamplona is beautiful!  I could even live here some day it´s that great!
We pray to God and he answers in scriptures.
I shared my testimony in sacrament meeting and had to adjust the microphone up so I could talk.
Well I don´t have a lot of time left, but the spirit is the master of this work here in the mission.
Please pray for me tomorrow around noon because at 8:30pm here in Pamplona we, Elder Dixon and I, are going to a religious question and answer thing tomorrow and we are a bit nervous because we have never done this before and a family that we met with this last week, references from the Paces, have more digests in their bank acounts than I have in years, are going to be there because we visited them last week in their huge house out in the country.  I know the church is true and the book of mormon is true too.  I love you all and hope you have a great week.
Con amor,
Élder Gonzalez

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

It's a new area with New Surprises

Famous for the running of the bulls
Now you have heard it all.  I am in a new area.  It´s called Pamplona!!!!  This is the city where running of the bulls is held!!!!  I´ll just grab my saucony shoes and take it for a spin and try to not get killed (or because I´m so tall, I could just walk over them...).  No I´m sure that missionaries are not allowed in those areas during holidays and stuff, so you don´t have to worry. But I did get a new companion.  His name is Elder Dixon.  He is from Utah, I don´t know what part yet because I have only been with him for like an hour. 

Elder Streiff is still in Badalona and he is training now, probably because he has only 2 transfers left.

I took a train this morning at 12 and got here at 4.  It was a cool experience, except I rode alone!!!! There were no other missionaries going up in the morning, so I just sat and read scriptures and read letters from home.  It was a nice train ride.  I got to see the spanish landscape.  It looks a lot like a mix between Southern utah and California, then we turned this mountain and BOOM all green fields, big green alfalfa (the plant that turns into hay) fields.  I felt like I was in Scotland.  Rolling green fields and nice spanish sun!  So I am here in the providence of Navarra and family history says (from Abuela's side of the tree because for some reason Abuelo´s side of the tree is blocked) that we have family here in Navarra from the 1400s.  I going to find and baptize family!!!

So this past week we saw a bunch of miracles.  We saw the windows of heaven pour us a bunch of blessings.  I felt like everything we planned actually went the way we planned, except the baptism of Flor, but some day she´ll get baptized. For example we talked to a lady from Bolivia who out of the blue wanted a Book of Mormon.  She had been taught in her country and wants to learn more about the church.  We also went to a hospital to give a blessing to this girl who had fallen off a building 4 stories and landed on the first floor tarris (for your information in spain and maybe in europe in general the buildings have the first story on the second floor.).  She almost died.  She broke her back and a lot of her bones and now is in a coma.  Elder Streiff gave the blessing and only one person could be in the room at a time so I waited outside and talked with the father (by the way they are from the UK).  As we were walking out of the old, badly looking, horribly organized hospital, Elder Streiff said that we may never know what becomes of this family but we know that with faith all will be well and that the daughter is in the Lord's hands.  Weird right?

A random thought came to me as we were in sacrament meeting, I looked at the water as we Elders and two deacons passed the water around and thought of the dumbest, but in the real sense of the word, a spiritual shot glass.  Think about it.  With the atonement able to fix all of our problems, we can be clean with the atonement and receive the extra strength we need for our challenges and activites.  Sorry, dumb thought. 

Also that Sunday I gave my farewell testimony in sacrament meeting.  Also a lady who has really bad mental and physical disabilities gave her testimony and it hit me.  She said " I´m nervous now, but Christ is always in my heart".  How nice.

Well family I don´t have too much time left.  I´ll finish my letter as I sit here in this library that looks like a university library rather than a public library.   Family I know that we can be together forever just like in the primary hymn.  I know that my father lives and loves me too.  As we read and pray every day, we will receive the spiritual food to strengthen our testimonies like water and sun are needed to feed flowers (which I saw a lot on the way up here to Pamplona).  I know that this church is true and the sky is blue and that I love you.

Con amor,
Élder Gonzalez

Monday, April 6, 2015

Conference Weekend

This week has been really fun!  First let me talk about general conference.  First we watched the saturday morn, sat afternoon (here) at 6pm and watched the priesthood session sunday morn at 10 then the sat afternoon at 12:30 then had lunch then went back to church and had the 6pm live session like saturday.  Then this morning we went to church and watched the Sunday afternoon session.  This general conference has been the best.   there is something about the mission and the spiritual height we are on and how much we are able to take in as we watch with tuned hearts and minds to the Lord.  I wish all would be able to truly love the words of the prophets as I and other missionaries get to do ( btw we watched conference in english by means of a computer at the church). 

Well family I have a few thoughts that I would like to share with you all. This past wednesday I had to help a man who has lived in the USA for a few years who has a friend that wants to get a job but needed help with some english homework, and I helped him with his papers.  He smelled really bad of smoke.  I hear he is a member, but I´m not sure.

Another funny story was when we were contacting one day.  We went to a build where a less-active lives and the door of the building was open.  We walked in and met the less-active lady whose name is Lourdes.  She was walking up the stairs as we were going to swing by and say hello.  She was in a hurry to go buy food.  So we talked for only a few minutes in the hall then left.  Outside her building we contacted this really nice catholic lady from Argentina for like 20 minutes, but did get her number though.  As we were talking with this lady, Lourdes walks by and hands us a bag of pastries and we later ate them on a park bench.

So that was on a Friday.  That same day though the Jehova witnesses (testigos de jehova) had their yearly sacrament and they were EVERYWHERE!!!!!!  there were a ton of them everywhere.  Old and young out 2x2 and 5x6, 7x12, just a ton of them.  They were all trying to get people to their sacrament.  It was really frustrating because there was 2 of us and a ton of them.  As we contacted people, they thought we were them and used the "european finger" on us and didn´t want anything.

Also another funny thing that happened this week was when we were doing weekly planning and we got a phone call.  My companion answers it and a lady says " are you coming to lunch”?  we were like what?  We looked her up the ward list and couldn´t find her.  We later found out that she was a member from Castellón and some how she got our number, so of course we couldn´t go to her house for lunch because she lives 4 hours away.

Anyway this conference has been really good.  I have learned so much and I am really grateful to have the opportunity to watch and listen to the prophets by means of satellite transmission and the internet.  We are so blessed and we fail to recognize the blessings that fall from heaven like rain.  These men and women teach us about Jesus Christ and we are to follow their wise counsel because they follow Christ´s example.  As I was taking notes I did notice that I was writing more than notes.  I was writing thoughts that entered my mind on the paper and a few things that I was writing were "Jared, you are doing great, chin up." or "don´t be afraid to be bold and clear".  I enjoy the presence of the Holy Ghost.  We can feel the Holy Ghost as we do what is right.  I know that my Redeemer lives too. He is my savior and He loves me.  I don´t have to be a missionary that knows all the scriptures or speak perfectly to be here.  We become perfected as we come to him, not be perfect then come to him.  It´s a continual process as we take one step at a time every day.  We can be become clean by the atonement of Christ and "prune our branches" (jacob 5) as we repent and change our lives so that the Lord can use us to be tools in his hands.

Well family, I love you and pray for you daily.  Have a great week.  Watch the new easter video and read and pray every day!

con amor,
Élder Gonzalez