Sunday, May 31, 2015

A Feast for J's Mom's Eyes (from a memory card recently mailed home)

Change a light bulb?  Why, yes I can.

countryside via train

Barcelona in background

daily catch

The finest is called jamón ibérico de bellota (acorn). This ham is from free-range pigs that roam oak forests (called dehesas) along the border between Spain and Portugal, and eat only acorns during this last period. It is also known as jamón ibérico de Montanera. The exercise and diet have a significant impact on the flavor of the meat; the ham is cured for 36 months.
 (not going to eat on a missionary budget)

When in Badalona (suburb of Barcelona), J and comp would run down to the pier and watch the sun come up.  He LOVED that and misses it now that he has been transferred.

Barcelona Zone rented bikes one P-day

J mentioned how tired his legs would get in Badalona with all the hills, but it appears that he didn't mention the escalators (cheater)
Designed by Antoni Gaudí, La Sagrada Familia, or Holy Family Church, was begun in 1882 in Barcelona, Spain. Construction has continued for more than a century. It's well-known that Gaudi's obsession with this one structure contributed to his death in 1926. He was struck by a nearby tram and went unrecognized in the street. People thought he was a simple vagabond and took him to a hospital for the poor. He died with his masterpiece unfinished.
Gaudi was eventually buried in La Sagrada Familia, which is scheduled to be completed by the 100th anniversary of his death.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

This has been a long week, but now it's the start of a new transfer

I´m still here in Pamplona with Elder Dixon and the two other elders in our district are here too, so nothing new.  I still have lots to do here, and the Lord is still true to his word, which is to help us when we need someone to help us.
Was the hotel picture you sent from the 5-star hotel in Bilbao or the 4-star hotel in Barcelona?  The 4 star in Barcelona.
Well I don´t have a lot of time today, but I just want to tell all of you that this has been a long week.  I have some energy and hopefuly I get some more.  I know that the mission is tough, and sometimes I forget how hard it is, until the Lord lifts us up.  He has called the weak and the simple to do the work.  I think he means me.  I´m weak and simple.  I wish I could do more, but I do what I can.
I finished my journal this week, and might send it home if I can.  I found it enjoyable to write in it, and later to read through it and remember all the good times I have had and the tough moments too.  I enjoy the mission and sometimes I don´t.  It's  the same if I was at home, I would still have problems, I would still have to get up early, go to work, school, learn things and read my scriptures and pray every day.  But the difference is that this is the Lord's work.  It takes more than just putting off our wants and desires for 2 years or wearing dress clothes every day.  It´s changing lives and converting ourselves by means of the refiner´s fire.  It´s not about us, even though I still think about myself a lot.  I miss running, I miss my friends and family, but I would hate to miss the time I waste if I let a minute go by on the Lord's time.  I know that this is true.  I know that the Book of Mormon is true.  I still speak spanish really bad and am lost in a different world, but it´s the spirit that converts people, not wise phrases or logical thinking.  We walk by faith rather than by sight.  I love you all and hope you have a great week.

Con amor,
Élder Gonzalez

Monday, May 18, 2015



It has been about 5 months since I have had a baptism, but we did it.  One of our investigators came up to us last week, not yesterday, but the other Sunday, and asked us when could we be baptized?  And so we put a fecha on them for Saturday.  It was super crazy trying to get them ready for that day because we had to teach them EVERYTHING!  All the lessons and the pre-baptismal questions, with 2 intercombios too!!! it was a headache, but that´s okay because there’s ibuprofen for that, so other than that THINGS ARE GREAT!!!  Luz is from Colombia and Juan is here from spain.  We received them as references from our ward mission leader who was at work helping Luz with something in her house and started talking about the church with her and so we came by and started teaching her.  Our second visit, my first because the real first visit was with Elder Dixon´s other companion, was really good.  But Luz has cancer and so she has been in and out of the hospital a lot.  So for 3 weeks she dropped off the face of the earth, we did not hear from her and she did not answer her phone, nor was she in home.  I really lost hope with her for a while, but later she came back to planet earth and came to earth and we saw here in church on her own.  We started teaching again and things just clicked with her.  She is so sweet, calling us her "corazón" after every sentence.  Juan is a big man, but has a great heart.  I laid my hands on his head and gave him the Holy Ghost.  Elder Dixon did both of the baptisms, but for Luz, she was having back problems and so we couldn´t baptize her normally.  We put her on a chair and tilted the chair down, so I helped Elder Dixon with that.  It was just a powerful weekend!  Surprise!!!



Have you heard of forest fires there in Spain?:  No but in Barcelona, there are these towers on the mountains that are used for fire look-out towers.  I have a picture of them on my other memory card.


Have you shared this past week a 5- or 10-minute lesson on a gospel principal rather than a short scripture at your eating visit?:  We are told that it would be better to share short lessons rather than a small video, share a testimony and say amen then leave.  So we did that with a few of our visits this week and it has been better because it shows to the members that we have a wonderful message we want to share with the members’ friends and not just a small scripture about temple symbols or where’s kolob.  Everything we teach should be tied to the Restoration, pmg.

from mom:  I can't imagine that this is a 5-star in Bilbao, but a hotel in Barcelona that he stayed in recently??
Tell me about the five-star hotel. : great but the people here in spain need Scotch blue tape to paint because they miss a lot of places, especially for a 5 star hotel, but It was Wonderful!

Is there anything (food wise?) that you're missing from home?: girl scout cookies.  My companion has received boxes of them.  and peanut butter.  But I don´t want any packages right now.  Also real milk....

Well family, I´ve got to go, but I want to tell you that I love you and that the book of mormon is true, I just finished it today and know that it is another testament of Jesus Christ.  It is written for us, so read it, it´s good for you and part of a complete breakfast.

Con amor,

Élder Gonzalez

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Happy Mother's Day Everyone

Well this week has had its super ups and some downs too. You can´t have weeks without some kind of opposition or some stress. That would be a boring week. 

 So yeah, my week was not made by the conference that we had yesterday and stayed at a 5 star hotel the night before, or the other 4 star hotel we stayed at for our first, only, and last mission conference last week, but MOTHER´S DAY!!!!!! I got to talk to my mommy and family, who were eating WAFFLES in front of me. They don´t exist here in Spain. It´s kind of weird though. I haven´t seen them in 5 months, but their voices are so familiar and it felt like we just talked last month or so. It´s so weird how fast time flies here in the mission.

Question is what was the conference about the other day. First yesterday was about how to teach the restoration better and how to follow the Holy Ghost. I am so lucky to have such wonderful presidents. They are wonderful, exalted people. Then on Tuesday, we had the privilege to have Elder Dyches of the European presidency and Elder Allen from the head of missionary work teach us about our purpose as missionaries and how to keep on improving ourselves, to be sanctified missionaries, consecrated missionaries. It was really good, but no, we did not get ipads and we don´t know when we are going to get them, so sorry.

On Sunday there was a race in the streets on Pamplona. I was trying so hard to keep my mind focused on the mission, but they were doing warm ups and getting ready at the start line. I just wanted to run out there and take off my suit and just jump into the race.......but nope, not till I come home =)

We visited one of our investigators who has a baptismal fecha for next week and so we passed by the other day and the youngest daughter was so excited to go back to church on sunday that she threw a little fit during our lesson. We found 10 new investigators this past week!

Oh, the other day I did a fast to help with my Spanish ( see mom, caps because it´s a name of a language, yeah I still know a little of English grammar...). And we had a visit with this family and the mother doesn´t have any faults with her testimony, but likes to question things. And her daughter doesn´t have a super strong testimony, and she was just giving her a little caña for it. But the daughter knows English so I bore my testimony to her in English and the mother had no idea what was said, but everyone could feel it. I hate language barrios, but like in the steeple chase, we just need to jump over them, land in the water and keep on running to the finish line.

We were sitting at a bus station to go back to Pamplona yesterday and a man walks up and asks for food, money actually, so I gave him the sandwich I was eating because we are not allowed to give money to people. Also, I saw a man with a Utah hat, but he disappeared before I could say hi. Also yesterday we met a man who was from Holland and spoke really good English and took my photo in front of the big museum in Bilbao called the guginhimer or something like that. We handed him a copy of the BOM to his son.

Well family I don´t have a lot of time left, but I just want to tell you all that we have something that is of more worth than anything in this world. I should know. I saw mercedes and BMWs all day yesterday. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is of more worth than anything because we are becoming the people the Lord wants us to be as we read and pray about the Book of Mormon. The atonement of Jesus Christ allows us to progress forward in times of trials and allows us the knowledge/peace when family members pass on and that we can be with them in the eternities. Family I know the Book of Mormon is true just as I know that my name is Élder Gonzalez. Have a great week.

Con amor,
Élder Gonzalez

Monday, May 4, 2015


Next question, and silly:  Is there fry sauce in Spain?:  no because it´s europe and europe isn´t utah and only utah has fry sause.  duh...just kidding.  they do have a sauce you can buy at the store kind like fry sauce, but not even close.

Anyway back to the miracles.  First the other day as Elder Dixon and I were walking back home, we still had about 30 minutes left till 10pm, so we started to do some contacting.  I had the impression to go a certain direction, while my companion said we should go the other way, but in the end we went the way I felt we should go.  And sure enough we met this woman who was standing next to a bench with her back towards us and her headphones in.  We felt like we needed to talk to her.  She turned around and listened to us for about a minute and then said that she wasn´t interested and was about to turn away when we handed her a Book of Mormon and explained it a little.  She became curious but didn´t have a lot of time.  So we gave her the book and was about to leave when we noticed that she had some grocery bags.  We asked if we could help her.  She said yes because she didn´t have a bus pass and that her foot was hurting her so we walked her home and talked on the way.  We talked about the church and her son had a great time.  Anyway long story short we say good-bye after getting her information and she asked if we could help her friend tomorrow and we did and found out her friend was interested to know more about the church and so we´ll see them on Tuesday at English class and continue to work with them.  What a great miracle!

So today we leave at 5:30ish to go to Barcelona to the first ever official mission conference.  Because of the idea of ipads we are going to be trained and learn of more information about the ipads.  The conference is on tuesday morning and so we are staying at a hotel tonight!!!  The word is that the mission has ipad covers, but no ipads. 180ish ipad covers for the mission of Barcelona, but a potential of not doing digital missionary work.  Money well spent or not.  A bad´s up to you to decide that.  Anyway, I´ll write to you all (vosotros, just kinding, in this mission we don´t use tú or vosotros.)

More thoughts that I have written down this week.

On wednesday we had zone infoque in Victoria, in the north.  We took a train that was super quiet and relaxing.  I slept on the train :) , can´t miss an opportunity to sleep if you’re a missionary.... and a bus on the way back.  The zone is great, except there are no natives, unless you count me with spanish last name, but can´t speak like a native...
Had a lunch visit with one of our investigators, as we were eating he stops realized that there is no drink, we say it´s fine and he runs out of the piso to find some coke.  2 missionaries left in a nonmember’s house alone... bad idea, or just decide.  I thought it was awkward.( I don´t even like soda because of XC, and because the spanish people, or europe in general, drink way too much of it.)

No more sweaters!!!!!!  We have to wear suit, coats, or sweaters mandatory from october to may, so from conference to conference, but finally we can take it off.  So on thursday after the zone infoque I felt like a real missionary and not a weird guy from some church.  I don´t like this rule because if you are in Barcelona or Valencia, you just die all year long with the heat.  And the image of the missionary is covered, you know, white shirts and ties.
A thought came to me this past week.  I was reading 4 Nephi and Mormon in my personal reading and found that these are some bloody and deep description books.  How do investigators who read the whole book of mormon know this book to be true?  It´s by the power of the Holy Ghost.  We understand that these principles are fundamental in the gospel of Jesus Christ and when we don´t obey them, we lose the power/help from God.  In essence, the Nephite people were destroyed because of their disobedience.

Handed a BOM to a lady as we were waiting at a bus stop.
Bought fried chicken from some south americans, which was really good.  Almost as good as kfc.  "minny don´t no chicken"  get it?

In sacrament meeting an 80ish year old lady sings the lyrics of a hymn and bears her testimony of it.  It was really nice.  Also we had an investigator family come to church and get loved to death by the ward!
Well family I´ve got to go.  Hope you enjoy these emails.  Have a great week and remember "happiness is having a solid foundation on truth and light"  who said it mom deitor or dumbledore?  see mormon messages "moments that matter".  Family I know that this church is true and we can know by reading and praying about the book of mormon.  Just do it, it takes only a few minutes.  I love you all and hope you have a wonderful mother’s day week, and I´ll see you this week, face to face.

Con amor,

Élder González  (some members say that I need an accent on the A of my name, so....yeah)