Monday, September 28, 2015

Changes in Torrejon

This week we are going to have some changes here in Torrejón. We are getting another set of Elders and Elder Peña is leaving. We also have 43 new missionaries coming into the field tomorrow which means that I will have the opportunity to train. I am super excited for what is coming. I know it will be challenging but also a great time. We are going into Madrid to find out who our next companions will be. Also I'm super excited as I will have the opportunity of serving as the District leader here in Torrejón. I think what I'm learning is that there are always more surprises and changes in the mission.

I love you all,
Elder Gustafson
A small package from home with treats and deodorant from the US. Yay!

P-day activity with some members in Torrejon.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Be Still and Know that I am God

September 21, 2015

What a week this has been. It has been a week different from all the rest here in Torrejón. We have had the great opportunity to work a lot with the members this week. It has really been a great week. On Friday we taught Osasu, one of the recent converts, here in Torrejón. Together we watched a video about Zion's Camp, a group of men led by the Prophet to go and help saints in Missouri. They expected to fight and so embarked on a 900 mile journey. Along their path they suffered many trials including sicknesses, weariness from hiking 20-30 miles over rough terrain, bad food etc. Before they arrived at the assistance of the saints they received word that the Governor would not send his support to help the saints reclaim their land. Joseph Smith then received revelation that they would not fight but that the Lord would fight their battles for them. They then returned to Kirtland suffering more sickness on the way back. The thing that I love about this story is that the Lord required these men to do hard things, and it was only after they had exerted themselves willing to put their lives on the line that the Lord stepped in to fight their battles. (D&C105)

At the end of the video was a scripture from D&C 101:16 that struck me it says, "Therefore, let your hearts be comforted concerning Zion; for all flesh is in mine hands; be still and know that I am God." Sometimes all we need is to be still and know that God is in control. When we seek His vision for our lives we will have success. Osasu, the recent convert, told us after we shared this video with him that his full name, Osasumven, means God Leads Me in his native dialect. That is what I want for my life, I want to be Osasumven.

Other great news from this week: on Wednesday we were teaching Felix and had a great lesson about being people who act. After finishing we left but about twenty minutes later we got a phone call from Felix telling us that he had lost his keys, it was now about 10:30at night, and he had no place to stay the night except at his girlfriend's house something we didn't really want. As we prayed that he would be able to find his keys we got a call telling us that he had found them on a bridge that he had crossed on his way home. I know that it was a miracle that he was able to find his keys.

On Saturday we had a ward barbecue and had a great time. We got to interact with the members and help four of our investigators feel more comfortable being at the church and establish friendships. During the barbecue we gathered together the young men and women and two investigators from the ward and went inside and
watched a video and then had each of them share their testimonies of how the gospel has changed each one of their lives. I am grateful for the youth of the church here in Spain. They live in a different culture than I did and I am grateful that they stay strong in what they believe.

I love this work, and I love my Savior.

Elder Gustafson

What is Love?

September 14, 2015

A great week herein Torrejón. This week we have really been focusing on our relationship with the members. Due to a couple of incidents with missionaries of the past the members do not have a whole lot of confidence in the missionaries right now. We are working to show them that we are here to serve them and be obedient to the Lord. Really the members are the the key to success as a missionary. We can spend all day in the street talking with people and without anyone accepting our invitation to learn more, but when members invite their friends who already have seen the light of Christ through their friends than we find success.

This week is a lesson in love. Love really is the key to all that we do as missionaries. We show love as missionaries by taking the time to serve others by listening. An example, we went to a lesson with one of our investigators but her husband wasn't home and we could not enter. We asked how she was doing and we learned that really she was having a tough time. We went and sat on the steps and just listened as she talked through what was going on in her life. As we just listened she talked and we shared a scripture and our testimonies with her. In that moment the love that I felt for this person that I have talked with for probably 2 hours in total, is the miracle of sharing our time and in that way show our love for her. As we show our little bit of human love that we can the Lord fills us with His love for that person. Charity is the pure love of Christ.

Another experience this week that was miraculous. I was on exchanges with my District Leader this week and we taught a lesson to a recent convert who feels the difficulties of being the only member in her family and trying to leave on the mission. Once again I learned the importance of listening and teaching with the power of the Spirit. We went in with a lesson prepared but threw it out as we started to talk with her and she told us again how she was feeling. As we listened to the Spirit we were able to talk with her and share some experiences from our lives and experiences from the scriptures to help her. We shared with her the story of Job. Job was a man that was very righteous and even though he had many riches he still put God first in his life. Still he had a trial of extraordinary measure, he had everything taken from him, his family, his wealth, and his health. When he questions God, Job is advised in the following manner: "17 Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty: 18 For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole." (Job 5) And after all of this in chapter 19 Job says: "25 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: 26 And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: 27 Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me."

Sometimes we seem like Job where we feel like we are not receiving our just treatment but God will always reward those that are just and in the end Job received more than he had before his great trial. God loves us to make us who we can best become. In this lesson she began to feel the love of God for her and left happy ready to keep fighting the good fight.

Really love is something mysterious. It is something that I am just at the very beginning in my understanding but I know that it is what binds us together and what should motivate us in life. Our responsibility is to make sure that we have our love based in the right things and in the right priority. I know that God loves each one of us his children and that our Savior performed the atonement in the greatest act of love ever shown. I love my God and my Savior.

I love you all and hope you all have a great week filled with miracles.
Elder Gustafson

Yummmmmmm. Mystery meat lunch at the Kebap. This is one of my favorite
foods here!

The Week of a Missionary

September 7, 2015

Usually when I write letters I try to think of a theme for the week in something that I am studying or something that I feel that I have been taught through my experiences this week, but this week I don't even know what it is that I should write about, there is so much that has happened and so much that I have learned. Hopefully I figure it out by the time I finish writing.

First of all I want everyone to know how awesome my companion Elder Peña is. I am grateful for the ability that he has to love. He is teaching me so much about the importance of loving everyone and doing everything that we do out of love. If we do the right thing only because it is something to do we become robots. Driven by tasks and lists and check marks on what we have done that day. But if we do the right thing because we love the Lord and those around us we become disciples of Jesus Christ. With love we go above and beyond the check marks and lists for the day (they still get accomplished) but we also have sought to go the extra mile to do a little bit more. Or in other words we are engaged in what we are doing with our heart as well as our minds. For example last night we had our weekly phone call report to our District Leader and while I was talking on the phone my companion made me dinner. It wasn't in his to do list for the day nor is it written that we have to make our companion's dinner but he saw an opportunity and took it to show me his love. This is just one small example, it seems that he is constantly looking to do that one extra thing to better the world around him and to show that he cares.

Second, the Lord works miracles as we try our best. On Saturday we had an activity in the church and got stuck there pretty much all day long. I was kind of frustrated because several things had not gone to plan and certain key people had not shown up until very late, but the Lord works miracles still. At about 9:30 one of the youth told us that her nonmember friend was going to come to talk with us. We went out in the street and talked with him about the Resurrection and the next day he came to church, and we met with him again last night. It was a miracle because after what looked to be a less productive day still the Lord blessed us through our relationship with the members.

Third, we have an investigator from New York named Felix, who is really cool. But he is going through a hard time right now. One of his best friends died in a motorcycle accident a couple days ago and he is struggling to understand why someone so young has to die if there is a God. I know that even though this is a hardship for him in the end it will be a blessing because Felix is turning to God and the Scriptures to find the answers to his questions for which I am grateful. I know that in the scriptures we can find the answers to all or our questions no matter what they are.

Fourth, I know that when we judge others it is because we can't see ourselves clearly. There are two lessons that I am learning this transfer. The first is that we need to look in the mirror first. Usually if we have a problem with someone it is because we are selves don't want to find fault with ourselves and so we push blame on others. We compare ourselves to them saying I do this and this better than them and so I am better but it is not true. There is a phrase that I don't remember exactly but it goes something like, never think that you are any better or any worse than your neighbor but always just as good. When we compare we fail. When we try to follow Christ and better ourselves without comparison we succeed. The second lesson is that we need to try walking in the other person's shoes. We must try to see as they see the world and then we can have understanding and compromise. But we first must make an effort to understand them. We really don't know the struggles of others until we take the time to get to know them.

Fifth, everything in its own and proper time. Victor our investigator from Pontevedra was baptized this last Saturday. I am super excited for this and it is something that I have prayed for that he would be ready and able to take this important step in his life.

Sixth, thank you to the person that sent me a package that I received this week. I am grateful for your thoughtfulness and kind words. You were an answer to my prayers. I know that God works in mysterious ways and an orange envelope with some goodies was a blessing to me.

Finally, I know that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is real. That through the Atonement we can be lifted during times of difficulty. I know this because I have felt it with all my heart. I also know that when we make mistakes, we can repent and change and be better all through the Atonement of Jesus Christ again. I know that this is the Church of Jesus Christ and that I have been called and set apart as His representative to bring this knowledge and access of the Atonement to others. I love being a missionary and seeing His work move forward here in Spain.

Elder Gustafson

He Knows Best

August 31, 2015

This week I have learned many powerful lessons. It has been a week of prayer and disappointment and joy. I have learned more than anything this week that the My Father in Heaven knows exactly who I am and He knows what I need to learn and grow. There is a story by Hugh B Brown quoted in a talk “As Many as I Love, I Rebuke and Chasten” by D. Todd Christofferson in the April 2011 conference "God uses another form of chastening or correction to guide us to a future we do not or cannot now envision but which He knows is the better way for us.”

President Hugh B. Brown, formerly a member of the Twelve and a counselor in the First Presidency, provided a personal experience. He told of purchasing a rundown farm in Canada many years ago. As he went about cleaning up and repairing his property, he came across a currant bush that had grown over six feet (1.8 m) high and was yielding no berries, so he pruned it back drastically, leaving only small stumps. Then he saw a drop like a tear on the top of each of these little stumps, as if the currant bush were crying, and thought he heard it say:

“How could you do this to me? I was making such wonderful growth. … And now you have cut me down. Every plant in the garden will look down on me. … How could you do this to me? I thought you were the gardener here.”

President Brown replied, “Look, little currant bush, I am the gardener here, and I know what I want you to be. I didn’t intend you to be a fruit tree or a shade tree. I want you to be a currant bush, and someday, little currant bush, when you are laden with fruit, you are going to say, ‘Thank you, Mr. Gardener, for loving me enough to cut me down.’” 

Years later, President Brown was a field officer in the Canadian Army serving in England. When a superior officer became a battle casualty, President Brown was in line to be promoted to general, and he was summoned to London. But even though he was fully qualified for the promotion, it was denied him because he was a Mormon. The commanding general said in essence, “You deserve the appointment, but I cannot give it to you.” What President Brown had spent 10 years hoping, praying, and preparing for slipped through his fingers in that moment because of blatant discrimination. Continuing his story, President Brown remembered:

“I got on the train and started back … with a broken heart, with bitterness in my soul. … When I got to my tent, … I threw my cap on the cot. I clenched my fists, and I shook them at heaven. I said, ‘How could you do this to me, God? I have done everything I could do to measure up. There is nothing that I could have done--that I should have done--that I haven’t done. How could you do this to me?’ I was as bitter as gall. “And then I heard a voice, and I recognized the tone of this voice. It was my own voice, and the voice said, ‘I am the gardener here. I know what I want you to do.’ The bitterness went out of my soul, and I fell on my knees by the cot to ask forgiveness for my ungratefulness. …

“… And now, almost 50 years later, I look up to [God] and say, ‘Thank you, Mr. Gardener, for cutting me down, for loving me enough to hurt me.’”

This week I felt a little bit like the current bush. It has been an interesting experience transitioning on the flip of a dime. With that transition there is always growing experiences which are not easy. But the Lord will always be there besides us. I know that He loves me and that He loves each of you. Even though there will be times of difficulty there will always be miracles.

One of those miracles that we saw this week was with our Investigator Felix who moved here from the U.S. when he was little. We have been trying to get in contact with him and set a time but it just hasn't worked with his schedule. So on Friday we were going out to the outskirts of Torrejón to visit an investigator out there and we just started our walk when we heard someone yelling at us out their car window. We went over talked to him for a minute and told him where we were going. He told us he lived in that very same building and so we were able to get a ride with him and talk for a minute. Really it was a blessing from the Lord for which I am grateful.

Really what I have learned this week is that the Lord knows best. As we humble ourselves to His will He will lead and guide us in all that we need. I am grateful that as we make mistakes that we have the Atonement to overcome our mistakes and improve our weaknesses. I know that because he rose we can be free of our sins.

I love you all
Elder Gustafson

The Firehose is Back On

August 24, 2015
With Elder Pena

Just when I thought I had the mission thing figured out it got turned upside down and inside out. From a branch of 15-20 to a ward of 140, from a companion with an American background and members there whole lives to a companion from Peru who speaks only Spanish and is the only member of his family, from a tranquil city in northern Spain to a city just outside Madrid. We ain't in Kansas any more. And I love it all. It is great to be here and fun to be learning alongside Elder Peña who is a humble powerful teacher who loves all. I thought after getting adjusted to the mission field the Firehose of learning and adjusting and transitioning wouldn't come back on. But it's back on and I get to learn and experience more. I am grateful for this experience that I am having because it is helping me to learn and grow.

BYU Basketball Team
Lesson 1 from Torrejón. One night this last week we had the privilege of going to a BYU basketball game in the center of Madrid. It was a great experience and really fun to take our recent convert Paul to. There were probably 50+ missionaries there from throughout Madrid. Lesson learned, every person is on a different level of learning and understanding and it doesn't really matter how much time we have in the mission. I loved being able to see some of my missionary heroes there that have taught me so much and really I could see why they were different, they did what was right even in a crowd. In this they followed the example of Jesus Christ. I have been reading and studying about the life of Jesus Christ in my studies and never did he let the will of anyone but the Father influence His decisions. This is lesson 1 from Torrejón stand for the right in any situation.

Lesson 2 the Lord has a plan for me even when I don't know it. I love it here in Torrejón and the members here are great. I am going to be honest though and say it's been a bumpy transition. It was hard to leave my zone of comfort and friends and family in Pontevedra, to come to an area that I don't know but I know that the Lord has a plan for me and that as I do my best to work hard, and pray for his help he will always be there for me. He is molding me and changing me in ways that I never thought possible. I know that He is my Master and that as I obey His will for me He will create me to be the person that I can best be. I know that to be true for all of us as well.

I love you all and pray for you,
Elder Gustafson

The Boomerang

A castle from the train window.
August 17, 2015

This week has been a week incomparable to all the rest. This last week has been like the "Boomerang". A little explaining. This last week has been festivo in Pontevedra and along with any great festivo come carnival rides. There is one ride called the Boomerang that is like the pirate ship that swings back and forth except that you are strapped in and do full loops upside down. For PDay last week we went and rode on the Boomerang and it really is how our week went. First of all Victor. His baptism did not go through this week. We decided to take some more time before his baptism to make sure that he understands the covenant that he is making. Along with that decision came a lot of prayer and thought about him and what he most needs. We met with him everyday, to listen and try to bring the Spirit into his life, but with all that he needs more time. It was one of the hardest things I've had to do to tell him that we would have to wait because I love him but sometimes we must do hard things to help those we care about. So Victor will get baptized one day I have no doubt but that day will again come in the Lord's timing and not mine.

Second, on Friday we received a message from a recent convert family that they have decided to take a break to rethink the church. It was super sad because they had stopped coming to church because both parents work on Sundays and because of that they have been caught up in the world. But we had already set a lunch appointment to visit their branch mission leader and so afterwards went and stopped by their house. They weren't answering their phones or their door and so we went back to the car and wrote them a little note. As we were writing the dad came out and invited us up. We went and had a really great spiritual experience with them. Talking about some of the things that they are going through right now and how the Savior is always here for us no matter where we are in life or what we are going through. I know that really this is true that when we have great weeks or we have difficult weeks or days or hours or minutes Christ is there for us.

Third, I'm leaving Pontevedra. It is not a surprise but it feels like I just got here. I have grown to love the people here and they have really become my family away from home. I am grateful for the time that I have had to learn from and form lifelong relationships with the members and investigators here. I I have been served by and have tried to serve them with all my heart. I will miss them all. When we serve our fellow man we grow to love them. The same happens when we are served. But when we both try to serve each other we form relationships unforgettable. At this same time I am excited for another opportunity to form more relationships and get to know a new area. I am excited to be with my new companion,

Elder Peña. Change is always hard but it is also where we learn the most. I am excited to grow and to learn.

I love the work and I love being a missionary. I love the Lord and I love you all.

Elder Gustafson

The Changing Power of the Atonement

August 10, 2015

Ice Cream with Klaudia

The Lord truly hears and answers the prayers of His children. Last  Sunday Victor called and told us that he didn't want anything to do  with us which was hard to hear after everything and we plead with the  Father to help him find his way back. On Wednesday we were headed down  to Vigo for District Meeting and we saw standing in front of us was  Victor. We then had the opportunity to sit next to him and talk with  him for the half hour bus ride. He opened up to us and told us about  some of the things going on in his life and that really he wanted to  keep meeting with us. Wednesday after district meeting I went out to  Ourense and my comp stayed in Pontevedra with the other Elder from  Ourense. During the intercambio they found Victor again and were able  to talk with him again. On Thursday morning he calls us saying that he  needs to talk with us. When I get back from Ourense we go meet with  him again. It really is amazing that if we deprive our Spirits of  nutrition that, that will also affect our bodies. As Victor made the small changes necessary in his life, reading and praying everyday, we  saw each day his health and his countenance improve. He called us  again on Saturday wanting to talk with us so again we were able to  have a lesson with him and resolve some of his doubts, emphasizing the  importance of reading and praying everyday. On Sunday we called him  just before church started to make sure he was coming but his phone  was off. As the meeting started in walked Victor ready for church. It  was a happy sight. During church the members were amazing talking with  and showing Victor their love for him as they are so great at doing.

 In Gospel Principles with Victor we taught about the power of the  atonement and there is a story that we shared about a hiker. A man was  walking along a path enjoying his time and listening to the birds  singing in the trees. As he walked he tripped and stumbled over a  little rock. As he picked up the rock that he had tripped over he saw  that it shone and looked beautiful. Deciding to keep his treasure he  put it in his previously empty backpack. He continued walking  occasionally tripping over stones in his path. Some of the stones he  kept in his bag others he threw of to the side out of his path. As  time went on this man's bag got heavier and heavier and the man became  wearier and wearier. He seemed to be tripping over the smallest of the  rocks in his path and each time it took more energy to get up.  Eventually the man tripped and didn't have enough strength to lit  himself back up. Lying in the path helpless, unable to take off the  crushing load on his back, the hiker cried out for help and at that  moment realized there was a Man standing at his side. He removed the  hiker's backpack and helped him to his feet. As the Man emptied the  backpack the hiker could see the worthlessness of all of the stones he  had put in his bag. The Man gave him back his backpack asking him to  do only one thing saying "you might stumble and you might fall but  please don't put more rocks in your pack cast them away" the hiker  agreed to do so and started off on his way reenergized and ready with  a fresh start and a gloriously light pack. But as had happened before  the man tripped and fell. Once again he saw that the rock he had  tripped over looked precious and picked it up. Now was the moment for  him to choose to put the precious looking looking rock in his pack or  to cast it away. We too have this choice in our lives. When we stumble  and make mistakes we can repent and change giving our sins to the  savior who has already paid that price. We just need to make that  choice and as we do it the Savior will be there beside us ready and  willing to take the weight of our sins. 

This morning we were sitting at our table studying when the phone  rings and we go and answer it. On the other end is Victor who is very  excited to tell us something. He told us that he had been  praying  after getting out of bed and he now knew that the Book of Mormon was  true, that Joseph Smith really was a prophet and that through him the  church of Jesus Christ had been restored to the earth. He bore to us a  testimony of the things that we had been teaching him and he told us  that he would like to be baptized this Saturday. Assuming everything  goes well with the interviews that is what will happen this Saturday.  I know that God is in control of all and that he knows better than us  what each of His children need in their lives. I know that the  atonement provides the power and the ability to change lives. I am  grateful that my Savior knows and loves me personally and that through  him I can be changed and overcome my faults and sins.

I love this  gospel and I love my Father in Heaven and His Son Jesus Christ.

I love you all, 

Elder Gustafson

Intercambios (exchanges)  in Ourense.

The Love of a Missionary

August 3, 2015

Preach My Gospel class with Klaudia
I love Pontevedra, all the people here, the people we meet, the members, our investigators, everyone. There were many experiences this week that showed me really how much I love these people.

The first is a really cool lesson this week with a lady that we contacted from the area book. She told us that she wanted to go and sing with us at the chapel because she loves our hymns and singing with the Mormons. We got there and started to talk with her and share the story of Joseph Smith and when we got to his experience in the grove instead of recounting what happened we sang "Joseph Smith's first prayer". It was a powerful way to bring the Spirit and to teach in a different way. (Elder Bartholomew is a great singer and plays the piano really well so it was really good) I have grown to love the power of music and the effect that it can make on my day. In the scriptures it says that a song of the heart is a prayer unto God. I know that it is one way that we can praise and worship God.

Another really cool experience that we had was our lesson with Pili. We invited our branch president to come with us to this lesson and it really was an inspired decision. He was able to explain and testify of the importance of the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ because really there was a period of apostasy where the priesthood was taken from off of the earth. He was very bold in stating what he knew without doubt or hesitation. He went through the events that led up to and through the apostasy with power and clarity that it was amazing to be there. The best part about that lesson is that Pili is continuing to understand and realize that what we are teaching makes sense but more than that even, she continues to read and pray to receive an answer for herself. I am grateful for Pili and the time that she is taking to find the truth for herself. Really she is amazing and has great desires. Please keep praying for her.

We talked with Victor this week and he told us essentially that he does not want to talk with us or see us again. It was hard to hear that after spending so much time thinking about, planning for, and becoming friends with him but something that Klaudia a great example of a member missionary in our branch said during our PMG class really helped me. She said that sometimes people decide to stop meeting with us and it's sad but the progress that we made with them will have an impact in their lives and will not be for naught. I believe that with all my heart. The time spent with Victor was time well spent, we made a difference in his life and will continue trying but even if nothing else happens we know that everyone has their agency to use as they will, all we can do is try to make an impact where we can. I am also grateful that God knows me personally and is willing to put people in my path to cheer me up when I need it.

I love this role that I have right now as a missionary. People sometimes ask if being a missionary is hard and really it is. It is not an easy thing to live the life of a missionary, but it is so rewarding. I think about the points of being a real man as proposed by Brother Parker and really they are the points of being a real missionary, being a real disciple of Jesus Christ. As we seek to do these things we find that we are blessed more abundantly than we can imagine. I am grateful for the parents and all of the priesthood leaders and examples that I have had to learn and grow from to prepare me to be here now. I am so blessed to be here. I am so blessed that I have this moment to meet the best people in the world. I love the people here in Pontevedra with all my heart and I love my Savior. It is because I love those people that I am obedient, and work with my heart, and with that love the work is easy.

I love you all and pray for you.

Elder Gustafson

Homemade rice pudding

Eating at the Kebap. Delicious mystery meat!

Chorizo from a vending machine, Yummy!

Power of the Lord in Ponteveda

July 27, 2015

Always when we put forth our best effort the Lord blesses us with miracles in our lives. We really have seen that this last week. Elder Bartholomew and I have been trying to put forth our full efforts in all that we are doing whether it is contacting, teaching, being obedient, working with the members etc, and the Lord has blessed us with so many miracles this week.

We were out doing area book pass bys and had one that we kept trying to get to but while we were walking towards the address we would have a really good street contact and then have to turn around and head to our next cita  in order to arrive in time. This happened several times during the week and this pass by just wouldn't leave my head. After English class Saturday morning our cita failed us and we decided to go try this pass by again. We got there and rang the buzzer but no one answered, just when we were about to turn away a man walked up and entered the building. My comp stopped him and asked him if he knew the man we were trying to get in contact with. It turns out that they are brothers. He invited us in and asked us to share our message with him which we did happily. It was a testimony that really the Lord is in control and he puts the people right in our paths right when they need to be there.

Another miracle, we were looking for a less active family that usually has no time for us to talk with them and at the beginning of the week we talked to them through the intercom to their piso and told us that they didn't have time for us but would talk to us when we ran into them in the street. Once again we had a lesson that failed on us and were out contacting in the street when we ran into this same couple. We had a great conversation with them and they invited us over to eat with them. Again in the Lords timing and when we are trying to do our best we are blessed with miracles. Another miracle, we have been going through our old investigator lists and trying to contact them again to see how they are doing. We called one lady named Idoia and told us pretty much that she didn't want anything from us. Alrighty! Another one down. Then we were contacting in the street and we see a woman looking over at us strangely, not all that weird considering we dress differently and stand out two blonde boys from America, but we go up and start talking with her. Turns out that she was Idoia the lady we had contacted but she had had a change of heart and wanted to meet with us. So we had a meeting with her the other day and it was a great lesson and she is a great person trying to do her best in the circumstances that she is in.

Another miracle, we contacted a man named Julio from Cuba, who is a great guy really excited to learn more about our message, but when we called the number he gave us it was his daughter's number and she was super excited to talk with us because she wanted to learn English and so told us that she would come to English class. We then got her dad's phone number and had a cita with him. The daughter came to English Class and at English class told us that she would love to know more about our message as well. It really was a week full of miracles from God for which I am grateful.

I had the opportunity to give a talk on Sunday and I spoke on the power of God to do all things and that we will be able to see and experience those miracles after we show our faith that miracles will happen. I felt the guidance of the Lord helping me to express what he desired that I say. It was a great capstone to an excellent week here. As a branch here in Pontevedra we are not big and we have more members leaving but it is full of some of the best people that I know. They really are modern day Pioneers for the church here in Pontevedra. I believe that the Lord has called each of them to be here at this time because of the power that each one has to make a difference. I know that each one of us has a purpose where we have been called to be in this moment. I love this work, I love each of you, and I love my Savior, Jesus Christ.

Love Elder Gustafson

La Fe Trae Esperanza

July 20, 2015

I love being here in Spain and especially here in Pontevedra. It’s been just another crazy week filled with hard work, crazy adventures, and many miracles.

First crazy adventure starts on Wednesday on our way out to District Meeting in Vigo and then on to have intercambios (I think they're called exchanges in English) in Ourense. So an Elder from Ourense was going to come to Pontevedra and my companion was going to Ourense with the other Elder. Anyways after District Meeting we were leaving when we realized that neither one of us had grabbed the keys that morning off of our study table, and our landlord would be in Madrid until the next night. It was a humbling experience having to call the Zone Leaders to ask them if we could crash at their piso I. Vigo that night after working. But in the end it turned out just fine the next night we were able to get back in the piso. First lesson learned always grabbed the keys, second, when you pray for experiences that will help you to be more humble be ready to be humbled. As frustrating as that adventure was there was still a purpose in it, besides helping me work on my pride. When we got to Vigo that night we had some time until we were supposed to be in piso and it was really cool some of the people that we found. We found one girl sitting on a bench and sat down next to her and started talking with her. As we talked she seemed interested but not a whole lot so Elder Bailey (from Ourense) pulls out a Book of Mormon and we explain it and then read the first chapter with her. When we finished we could see the desire that she had to keep reading. She didn't have a whole lot more time but she agreed to keep reading later and gave us her number to pass to the missionaries in Vigo. This was a testament that the Lord uses flawed servants to accomplish His purposes. Always things go according to His plan even when they don't go according to our own.

Another thing that I loved about this last week is something that my companion taught me. When we are out contacting even though my Spanish isn't perfect I need to be unique with what I say. It is so easy to say the same things overs and over again but as we see those that we talk with as people and not as another phone number or another thing but really as people with whom we can connect we can be better representatives of Jesus Christ because that is what he did. We need to see those on the streets or anywhere in our lives as children of God. There have been a couple of contacts that have really stuck out to me this last week when I was trying to follow the Spirit and be a representative of Jesus Christ rather than a "salesman". The one I'll share includes two ladies one probably in her 90s and the other, her caretaker, pushing her wheel chair. As we stopped them we talked at first with the caretaker who seemed more likely to be interested in our message but because she had to work all the time she had no time to meet with us and just didn't seem all that interested. As we were giving them pass along cards the older lady started to read it out loud, it was a card that said "Faith brings Hope" and had a picture of Jesus Christ on it. The lady looked up at us and said I need more hope in my life. We then got to testify that really the message that we share is a message of hope and happiness. It was a really cool contact that felt different from the others that we usually have. She has no telephone but is always out in her wheel chair by our church building so we are praying to run into them again. I am grateful for the hope that this message brings into my life. Because of this message I know that this life is more than a time to drink eat and be merry because there is more than just this life. I am grateful for the perspective that I can see because I know the Plan of Salvation and I know that when I make mistakes I can be forgiven through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

I love you all, please keep praying for Victor he is going through a hard time and could use your prayers, Pili is doing well and we look forward to meeting with her again when she gets home from vacation.

Elder Gustafson
Love those Pontevedra sunsets!

Gluten Free cheesecake!