Monday, August 8, 2016

Keeping Life in Gear

This week has been a great time to reflect and think on the things of life. With the end of the Piso Tour that the Packs have done our work here in the office is about to take a huge jump. We are going to change out probably about 15 pisos in the next four months, along with a number of repairs and upgrades to the pisos that we have. Life is going to get exciting.

Amid the craziness we are going to experience, I have been thinking a lot about the basics of life. As you might know I´m driving a nine passenger manual van through the streets of Madrid and trying not to stall going up hills. As my companions and I have talked about driving stick and following the Spirit we came up with the following analogy. As you try to start out driving a stick shift you have to find the bite on the clutch, the point where the gears and the engine engage to form forward motion. If you don´t find that bite just right the clutch does not engage correctly and you stall. When you find the bite it feels good, you know that things are going to go well as you increase the gas. It is far easier to engage the gears going down a hill and more difficult going up a steep hill. The same thing happens in life. On the mission we are Spiritually driving down a hill we can fly and the Spirit comes into our lives easily because we are in a routine of studying every day and focused on Christ. When I came into the office that routine and focus shifted and starting off every day was a little bit more difficult because I now had other responsibilities and things to focus on. There might have been some days where I stalled, but I as with everything we can learn and improve and realize that the basics of reading praying and remembering our covenants are the center point of our lives, not how much work we have to do. This is the sweet spot when we are tuned into the Gospel, living it so that our lives mesh with God´s will and we don´t stall.

As we align our actions with God´s will we will feel that sweet spot and keep progressing. That doesn't mean that we won´t have obstacles in our path or traffic that make us change our gear and realign with God. We can be more prepared for those things as we keep our engines tuned through spiritual experiences such as going to the temple, fasting, and partaking of the sacrament every week. All that is great but does not replace the need of constant daily adjustments through scripture study, prayer, and keeping Christ as our priority. It all goes back to the basics. As we have a powerful experience with the Spirit every day we can feel comfortable that our lives are in gear and we can continue pressing forward. Let´s all keep our lives in gear with the Spirit.

I love you all
Elder Gustafson

P.S. I just wanted to share something that I found this week in the history of my maternal Grandfather and how it relates to me and the work that we are doing here. He wrote about his time with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and said, "The choir was my opportunity for expression. I looked forward to each rehearsal night as an experience which I needed and wanted. I would often still get a lump in my throat as we would begin ´Gently Raise the Sacred Strain, for the Sabbath´s Come again´. The choir is a great missionary tool for the church and I am proud and privileged to have been a part of it." When I was up in A Coruña there was a recent convert whose family we were teaching. They were golden and ready to receive the gospel because of the work of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. This man had heard and loved listening to the recordings made by the Choir even though he speaks little English there was something that struck him on the inside. He was baptized and we were able to teach his family and help them progress towards baptism which should be happening in the next few months. I am grateful for my grandfather and the work that he has done. I feel privileged that I get to follow him and see some of the seeds that he planted here on the earth and reap some of his harvest.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

A Mighty Change of Heart

Outside the Prado with the office crew and the Hermanas

August 1, 2016

This past week we met with one of our friends that is struggling with addiction. It is very evident that it is eating him up. He is starting to realize that he cannot do it by himself and so has started reaching out for help. As we read with him in 2 Nephi 2 yesterday there were a couple of phrases that stuck out to him that I wanted to share with you. "Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered." We cannot repay the broken law by ourselves. It is impossible. The only possible way to overcome sin is through the merits of Jesus Christ who gave us everything. I love seeing the atonement work in the life of this friend. To see the beginnings of the change in his heart not only in his actions.

As we pass through the trials of life let us rejoice in the fact that we can change. We can become clean again. All through the grace of Jesus Christ which he offers to us. Let us cry as Nefi "Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul." We are not here to be sad but instead to rejoice. Let us remember that men exist so that they might have joy.

I love being a missionary and serving here in this time because it is where the Lord needs me to be.

I love you all,
Elder Gustafson

Cleaning the mission van after an explosion of "Frutti Fresh."

Enjoy the Journey

P-day soccer

July 25, 2016

Well, another week has come and past and I´m trying to remember what has happened. On my part it has been a lot of trying to get the Packs ready for their Ready or Not 2016 Piso Tour. They are visiting all of the pisos in the mission which is an adventure to visit 100 pisos and do interviews within three weeks, I get to run all of the fun stuff on the backside making sure that they have the supplies that they need which included a late night trip to the local department store and a run up to the mission home to drop off supplies. 
I planned out the trip, the routes they would take and created the inspection sheets they are using to judge the pisos. Then I coordinate with missionaries after the fact to resolve problems and get their pisos up to shape where the Packs would like them to be. It is fun but the work is just starting. I've attached some of my favorite pictures they have sent to us from their trip.

Late night run to the Mission home to pick up old Smoke alarms and give the Packs the stuff for their trip.
We came out with fruit and soda :)
Elder Doxey in his new piso testing out his new detectors

President and Sister Pack embarking on their journey!

On another note we have had a great week preaching the gospel. We went up to a little pueblo up above Madrid to visit a family who haven´t gotten a visit in a long time. We had the most beautiful drive up there that was a blessing after a long day. The family wasn't home but we left them cookies on their doorstep and a smiley face on their door. 

This morning we went and helped a family to move. It was a great experience as we had about 30 minutes sitting with a nonmember while we waited for the van to come back. While we waited we talked and the subject of happiness came up. What the differences are between happiness that comes from the world and happiness as defined by an eternal perspective. Happiness does not come from stuff as much of the world thinks. It is not just going to work all day but instead spending time with the family and enjoying the journey are the parts that are most important. It has to do with living in the moment and enjoying the parts that we can along the way. The best part about that conversation was that these conclusions were arrived at by a man struggling with depression. Anyways, we hope that we will be able to help him in the future to progress and remember what role Christ has in his life.

I love you all,
Elder Gustafson