Saturday, December 26, 2015

Feliz Navidad!

Christmas with members and Santa Clause came.
 December 25, 2015

I am so grateful for Christmas. This beautiful time that we have to reflect specifically on the birth of Christ. During this time we have the great privilege of singing about his birth and the joy that that brings. I have found great happiness as I have sung these hymns for the past two months and I wanted to share today some of my favorite lines and messages. I have put them in Spanish and English they are not exactly the same but I hope you will be able to understand what I am trying to convey.

¡Regocijad! Jesús nació,
del mundo Salvador;
(Joy to the world, the Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King!)
In a world of so much sadness and hardship let us rejoice! The Lord has come! These things shall pass away. Our hardships and trials will pass we will learn and grow. Let us embrace Him and experience the joy that we receive from the knowledge that He came and that He lives!

Te pido, Jesús, que me guardes a mí,
amándome siempre, como te amo a Ti.
(Be near me, Lord Jesus; I ask thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray.)
Tiny Christus
I echo this plea. There has been no better gift that I have received this last year than becoming closer to my Savior. In Spanish in the second line is the the request that He loves me always as I love Him. His love is perfect and never will fail. He will be there always but we must show Him our love for Him by doing as He has asked. Let us be obedient to Him.

Escuchad el son triunfal de la hueste celestial:
Paz y buena voluntad; salvación Dios os dará.
Cante hoy toda nación la angelical canción;
estas nuevas todos den: Nació Cristo en Belén.
Escuchad el son triunfal de la hueste celestial.
(Hark! the herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!
Joyful, all ye nations, rise;
Join the triumph of the skies;
With th’angelic host proclaim
Christ is born in Bethlehem!
Hark! the herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn King!)

Because our Savior is born we can receive Salvation. Every nation understand that message so that they can sing and give glory to Him. I am grateful to be in Spain sharing this message with those who can now sing with me in this great joy that I feel because I can live with God and Jesus and my family forever! Let us all share his message with those that we love!

Noche de luz, noche de paz;
Ved la luz de Su faz.
Es el alba de la redención;
Dios, por Él, nos dará salvación.
¡Oh bendito Jesús!
¡Oh bendito Jesús!
(Silent night! Holy night!
Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from thy holy face,
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth;
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.)

Night of light, night of peace. See the light of His countenance. Christ is light. He is the dawn. Light expels all darkness. Light is warmth and happiness. I am grateful for the Light of Christ which is given to all men to discern the good from the bad so that we can choose for ourselves to follow that light. I invite each of us this year to keep our eyes focused on the example that our Savior left us. Let us follow his light.

Have a Merry Christmas!

I love you all,
Elder Gustafson

Christmas morning with stockings from home
Elder Johnson opening his stocking.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Attitude & Faith

With Elder Johnson from Odgen UT

I have been thinking a lot this week about Laman and Lemuel. Laman and Lemuel get a bad rap in the Book of Mormon because they were rebellious and whined all the time but I think that sometimes we don't give them quite enough credit. They still left Jerusalem with their family and then they went back to Jerusalem twice, and they still crossed the sea to get to America. Sometimes we believe that, there is no way that I would ever end up as Laman or Lemuel completely off track but it happens very slowly and it begins with our attitude. The difference between Laman and Lemuel and Samuel and Nefi is that the younger brothers were willing to go and do with faith and hope for the future. Let's not go to church or read our scriptures or pray because we have to but instead because we want to. It is a wonderful blessing that we have to be able to this great knowledge that we do. So what does that have to do with my adventures of this week? This last week Elder Johnson and I arrived in Talavera and as we got here we heard "this is a hard area" "the people here are very hard headed" "you are going to struggle in that area", we am here to say no to all that. We are here in an area where the members are excited to work and want to do everything they can to see their little branch progress to become a ward. It is an area where they have vision and leadership. It is an area that has the faith to see miracles happen. We are here to help them accomplish their vision and progress the work of the Lord. I know that there are people prepared here. I know that it will take diligent work but that is required in any area of any mission.

I am grateful that I have been taught that we can do miracles according to the preparation that we put into the work. In Moroni 7:29 we learn about miracles when Mormon asks and responds to his own question "have miracles ceased? Behold I say unto you, Nay" as he continues he says in verse 33 "And Christ hath said: If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me." I know that this is true. I ask for your prayers and your faith so that we can see miracles happen here in Talavera.

I love you all,
Elder Gustafson

Monday, December 7, 2015

Talavera de la Reina

With Elder Hendrix at the temple
Well it is once again transfer time. Due to Christmas our transfer got shortened to 4 weeks and I have left Torrejón. It has been an amazing learning opportunity here in Torrejón. I am so grateful that I have been here and for the friends I have made. I have very mixed feelings about leaving. Very sad to leave the great people here that I love but also grateful and excited for a chance to start fresh and do better. I will be headed to Talavera de la Reina which is by Toledo down at the southern part of Madrid. I am still uncertain as to who my companion will be because I once again have the great opportunity to train a new missionary. I am so grateful for Elder Hendrix. I am grateful for his ability to work and his love for the savior. I am so grateful for his amazing musical ability. I am grateful for the times that we spent together studying the scriptures. One of the best things about Elder Hendrix is to ask questions as we study the lessons and the scriptures together. I have learned so much from him and will miss him. 

This week I just wanted to share how grateful I am for my Savior. Last night we went to see a choir on temple square (in Spain) sing. I am grateful for that moment that I had to reflect on the birth of Jesus Christ. The birth of Jesus Christ is more than a day to buy presents or eat delicious food. It is a day to spend with your family remembering who makes it possible that you can be together forever. I am so grateful for Christmas. The lights, the hymns to Christ, the happiness and atmosphere that prevails. I remember a couple years ago as a family we talked in a family home evening about what Christmas really means and whose birthday it really is. If I remember correctly my mother invited us all to take a moment and think of what we were going to give to Jesus this Christmas. We all took a little piece of paper and wrote what it is that we were going to give to the Savior and then we put it in a box and put in the center spot under the tree. I invite each of you to think about what it is that you can give to Jesus Christ this Christmas.

I love you all,
Elder Gustafson
The Torrejon District with Felix

Christmas lights in our apartment

My signature was the first on Elder Hendrix guitar.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

I am grateful for...

Preparation day with part of our zone in Madrid at Sol.
November 30, 2015

I am grateful for...

A bag of carrots

This week we met with a member here in Torrejón. He doesn't have a whole lot of money, not even enough to pay the light bill in his piso. We set a meeting with him on Thursday in the afternoon and as he walked into the church he came in swinging a plastic bag full of big carrots. It was very clear that they had been carefully washed and prepared for us with love. He handed us the bag apologizing that he didn't have anything better to give us. We thanked him for his wonderful Thanksgiving gift to us. I know the sacrifice made in order to give us a bag of carrots and they are probably the sweetest carrots I have ever eaten.

The power of a testimony

I am so grateful for Felix and the testimony that he has in the gospel of Jesus Christ. We have been teaching him about the law of chastity and modesty. As we taught it to him he told us that he had an appointment to go and get a new tattoo that he had already paid 500€ for. As we talked he told us "I know what is the right thing to do. I've gotta go cancel it." I am grateful that he has a solid testimony of what is right. It is one of the coolest things to have an investigator who we can teach and have an incredibly spiritually experience with but who is also one of my best friends.

A mission president's wife

This week we had a training with all the hundred and something missionaries serving in the Madrid area. It was a great training, we talked about the way that commandments are a way of keeping us free. Sometimes we think of commandments as things that keep us chained up, or sometimes we think of commandments as a fence that keeps us inside the boundaries so that we are free within our fence to move, but I believe that the commandments are even more than that. I believe that the commandments keep the evil trapped in and keep us outside and free. Sometimes we can't see more than the fence right in front of us and don't know which side is inside and which is out. After this great conference we had a full on Thanksgiving Dinner complete with Turkey, Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, Cranberry Sauce, etc and even included Pumpkin Pie at the end. I am grateful for this sacrifice of time and resources from Hermana Pack and all those who helped her in this endeavor.

A hard working companion

I am so grateful for my companion. He is a great example to me. I am grateful for the things that he has taught me these past two transfers. This week in particular though I am grateful for his dedication to work hard even when we are out contacting meeting few who wanted to hear the word of God. When I asked him how he was feeling he said terrible. We talked about going and taking a rest for a minute but he said essentially there is work to do let's keep going. I think about Brigham Young and his companion who upon leaving for their missions, and being very sick, stopped the wagon rose and shouted Hoorah for Zion!

My family

I am grateful for my family. I don't give my family the credit that they deserve in my letters home. I am so grateful for every member of my family. I never realized how great I had it until I left and probably won't until I have a family of my own but I know that I owe everything to them. I am so grateful for a Mother who has shown me love in everything that I have done. I am grateful for her example of love she shows me the importance of demonstrating our love to others through our actions more than just through words. I am grateful for a Father who teaches me to work diligently and to spend time working for others,selfless service. I am grateful for Mckenna who teaches me the importance a of being true to yourself and what you value. I am grateful for Eliza who teaches me that love comes from the heart. I am grateful for Andrea who teaches me the importance of being engaged in good causes. I love my family and am grateful for the ordinances that bind us together for eternity.

My Savior

Above all this Thanksgiving I am grateful for a Savior who allows me to change who I am. I am grateful that through Him I can become different than the person that I am right now. I am grateful for the relationship that I have with Him and the opportunity that I have to help others build this relationship with others.

I love you all
Elder Gustafson

PS this week I am ponderizing the scripture Alma 26:22

We are Children of God

November 23, 2015

This week has been a great week. I love you all. This week has been super fun. I got to do an intercambio with Elder Bailey our Zone Leader. (I did between 4 and 5 intercambios with him back in Pontevedra and so it has been great to be back with him.) Life really is good. We had a conference with a General Authority this week which was awesome. He talked about the importance of knowing our identity. He talks of when we know what our identity is we can conquer Satan and we will always have purpose in what we do. I have been studying Moses 1 as a follow up and it has been cool to see how God emphasizes the importance that he is a Son of God. My invitation to you all this week is to reflect on what it really means to be children of God.

Felix came back from his trip this week so we are super excited to have him back with us. We are loving the work here.

I love you all,
Elder Gustafson