Monday, April 27, 2015

Great News!

Beautiful Galacia coast!

Great News!                                                                                     

This morning before leaving on our excursion to the coast we got a text from our Zone Leaders saying "iPads..." Elder Giforos and I had just been talking the night before about whether he will ever see the iPads that have been talked about for the past year. So we call the Zone Leader and he tells us that we are going to be an iPad mission and next week the entire mission is going to be gathered in Madrid for a digital mission training. I´m super excited to be able to go to Madrid and be with all of the missionaries there. This will be the first time that this mission has had all the missionaries from the North, the islands and Madrid in one gathering. I am excited for this great new tool that we will have. In a training that President and Hermana Jackson went to they learned this, "Elder Bednar said that instead of using cimeters, bows and arrows, we are using iPads to combat the enemy." This is exciting and good news.

The great news though is that this coming Saturday Richard is getting baptized. Not to count baptisms before they happen but I´m so excited that Richard has made this choice in his life. It has been a wonderful experience becoming his friends and helping him make the commitments and covenants in his life that will help him receive the eternal salvation to which we are all able to achieve if we follow the path laid by our savior. This is a great and and exciting time in Pontevedra.

Raquel also is doing well she is awesome. She feels that we were an answer to her prayer and so has accepted and felt the veracity of the things that we have taught. She has not been able to come to church the past couple of weeks because she had to work. We are praying that she can feel the importance of coming to church to motivate change that demonstrates faith in her life. I know that the Lord blesses all those who try to keep his commandments. As Nephi would say, I will go and do because the Lord will provide the way.

Other things that happened this week: On Thursday my companion was sick and so after attempting to go work in the street returned to the piso and I had the opportunity to listen to general conference. I missed a lot of General conference both because of the time difference and also the language barrier. But the opportunity to go back and review conference is one of the greatest blessings that we have in this modern age of technology. I am grateful to have a living prophet who leads and guides the church along with the apostles and seventy who help the work to move along. This is a great blessing in the lives of all who will listen to this message. I love feeling the spirit of conference.

Best foods that I have eaten this week, food is one of the best parts of my day to day life here in Pontevedra: Gluten free pizza with bacon, pineapple and corn, Gluten free lasagna made by Cecilia, the branch president’s wife, and blue fish that we ate with some members. The food here is amazing and the members are incredibly generous with the things that they have. 

The mission is the best, the work of the Lord moves forward and the Lord is in charge. I love this work and I love you all!

Elder Gustafson
My companion and I with a pig´s face. We were visiting a member who is going to make soup with it, saw it and decided to take a picture with it  because... why not? jaja

Monday, April 20, 2015

All we have to do is seek with faith

Me at a member´s piso with an incredible view in Villa nova

This last week has definitely got to be the best of the mission so far. Every week has been amazing with things that I´ve learned and miracles I´ve witnessed but this last week was especially cool.

Last Monday night we were out contacting after another cita fell through and doing area book pass-bys. I was trying to figure out where we were going to go next when my companion saw this woman sitting on a bench and felt the impression to go over and talk to her. As we continued walking she got up and started walking parallel to us through the plaza and my companion said, we need to go over and talk with her. So we made our way over to her and stopped her and contacted her. She seemed super nice told us her name was Raquel and gave us her phone number so that we could meet with her. We call her on Tuesday and set up an appointment for Wednesday night. She shows up and we teach a lesson about the Restoration. During the lesson she tells us that she had been praying to find a way to improve herself and to find God´s path for her and believed that we were that answer from God. We set a baptismal date with her for second week in May! I know that it wasn´t chance that our appointment that night cancelled on us nor that my companion felt the prompting to go over and talk with her. I know that God will always answer our prayers, in his time and in his manner. Our job is learning to recognize those answers as coming from Him. We here in Pontevedra are exceedingly blessed.

We also have continued teaching Richard who is amazing! He is so excited to get baptized the first week of May. We moved his baptism back a week so that his parents and family can attend. It is so cool to see that the Gospel changes those that it touches. Richard has always been a great guy but as we have taught him more and as he has fulfilled his commitments there is something new in his face. I love the gospel and I love being a missionary. Richard made us bracelets that are super cool. Mine says Gustafo. I love it.

The Rama here is the best in all the world. The people here all have the best hearts and love the gospel. Of course nobody is perfect but I love feeling so much love as we try to work with the members in inviting their friends to hear the great message of the Restored Gospel. I know that God loves us and guides our lives. There is no way that we could ever see miracles, like Raquel, if He was not in charge and guiding our lives as we seek His help and guidance. The Lord is in the work here in Pontevedra and around the world. I am so grateful for the opportunity to serve the Lord with this time that I have been given. I love serving with the people of Spain and with my awesome companion Elder Giforos. I love you all and pray that the Lord will bless you.

Elder Gustafson

Walking home one night we saved a lizard that was in the middle of the side walk
Portugal across the river

The remnants of an old Celtic Village (the hut is reconstructed), also Portugal is on the other side of the river.
Elder Giforos and me at a fortress that was way cool. It felt like I stepped back into the middle ages, almost.

Pasta salad like the mama used to make. Delicious!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Seafood Week!

What a great week we've had! It's been difficult as we are trying to find new investigators that are going to start progressing but I have come to learn to enjoy contacting in the streets as my Spanish improves and I can understand and speak more than the same memorized phrase.

A couple of great experiences that we've had included a testigo couple that we talked with. We spoke with them for a while and it ended with Cesar, one of them, giving us candy. One of the things that we talked about was the importance of having good leaders in government. It was interesting to think about the role of government in the plan that God has prepared for us. In my personal study I studied D&C 134 which was really cool. I would encourage you to read it.  I love this first verse. “We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society.”

It is interesting to me that earthly governments were established of God but that all men will be held accountable for their actions in these positions. Meaning, while God instituted earthly governments, men still have that precious gift of agency that God will never take away. Quite often we hear in the streets “why does God let bad things happen to good people?” Generally there are two responses that we use. First that God will never take away another man’s agency and second that we are all here for a reason to go through the test of life. In order to have a good test of our character we must have difficulties that stretch and pull us. Thus God does not take away the agency of men even when they are in positions that He has instituted and are choosing to do bad.

This week has been a great week to explore with foods. I have had calamari (squid) , pulpo (octopus) , langostino (giant shrimp  I think called prawns in English) but has all been super good. I really love paella and the sea food that we have been eating. It's super good! Life is so awesome here in Galicia it's the best!

Elder Gustafson

P.S. Sorry no pictures this week I'm writing on a members iPad and can't upload, but I have some cool ones for next week.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Life is how we look at it

Dear Family and Friends,                                                                  

New haircut selfie while helping a brother move
Life this week is amazing as every week has been. It’s been a week to learn and grow and to be stretched. Here in Pontevedra there are 6 active men in the Rama including the missionaries. For Semana Santa (Holy Week) our branch president went down to the Temple in Madrid with his son, leaving us with only 4. One of those men has medical issues that will not allow him to walk and move around a whole lot. That left us with three. The last brother left, changed apartments this last week. It was a week of carrying heavy things through the streets of Pontevedra and up and down stairs to the 5th floor piso which they were moving into. With such physical labor and other issues that come with changing pisos it got hard to keep a positive attitude through it all. This morning I was reflecting on the past week and the many miracles that came from Our Father in Heaven.

Miracle 1. After a long day of getting rejected in the street we found a wonderful man who just talked with us and shared his beliefs, we shared ours and how our message could help him, he told us to write down his number so that we could call him to set up a time to talk with him more. Then, our next appointment called and told us that she was running late but that her brother was there so we could go inside and teach them! Usually people just don´t show up at appointments let alone call us to let us know that they are coming late. Then we ran into a super wonderful lady that complimented my companions Spanish and started a conversation with us, which again never happens! It was a miracle that testified to me again in about 5 minutes that the Lord watches over us all and knows what each of us needs individually.

Miracle 2. We met with a woman named Ana for the first time after Elder Giforos contacted into her last transfer in the street. She told us in the lesson that she believed in God and Jesus Christ but had never found a church that could "fill her heart". She then went on to ask us what she should read before our next visit with her. Another miracle is that God knows us and our desires to bring prepared souls unto Him.

A cool snake we found in a tunnel under the train station
Miracle 3. We went out to visit our investigator Richard this last week at his home in a little pueblo (small town). We had an excellent lesson with him and then went to the bus stop to wait for our 40 minute ride back home at 8:45 pm. As we waited and waited no bus was coming. 9:00 rolled around and we started to wonder if we had missed it. We had cut it close after our lesson with Richard but figured we had made it in time. We started to think about that 5+ hour walk that we might have to start making back toward Pontevedra (the one member with a car was down in Madrid at the temple). We were worried we would have to call the APs and start our trek and then at about 9:10 the bus finally rounded the corner. I don´t think I have ever been more excited to see a bus. It was a blessing that the Lord sent a bus for His missionaries late, so that they could get home.

In life it is all about how we look at things. If we want to focus on the hardships and the difficulties in life that is how our lives will be, difficult and a hardship, but if we focus on the joys and miracles and blessings that is what our lives will be. It is about how we look at life that determines how life is. I am so grateful for these miracles this week as well as all of the others this week and other weeks. I love you all and know that the Lord does as well.

Elder Gustafson

The amazing gluten free food from the amazing package sent by the best family in the world.