Saturday, October 8, 2016

Have Joy!

District Temple trip

 What a week we have had! We had transfers and it was the smoothest that they have ever gone but the most tired that we have ever been. It required a lot of a carbonated beverage that shall remain nameless as President Uchtdorf would put it. Let me see if I can give you a little insight into what transfers are like for the Office Elders. On Wednesday night we were given transfers by President Pack. That started the craziness for Elder Douglas who began planning the movement of all the missionaries. Over the next couple of days, he stayed busy buying tickets on planes, trains, and buses for the missionaries who were traveling over long distances. Elder Kirby and I began planning our logistical rollercoaster of getting people to the airport at the early hours of the morning, getting missionaries their suitcases, picking up other suitcases to load into the storage closet etc.

During the excitement of planning and buying we were able to watch General conference which was amazing this time. It usually is but going into it I had some very specific questions that I wanted answers to. President Nelson in his talk on joy in the gospel said, "My dear brothers and sisters, the joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives." He then goes on to explain how Jesus Christ was able to perform the atonement. He said, "In order for Him to endure the most excruciating experience ever endured on earth, our Savior focused on joy! And what was the joy that was set before Him? Surely it included the joy of cleansing, healing, and strengthening us; the joy of paying for the sins of all who would repent; the joy of making it possible for you and me to return home--clean and worthy--to live with our Heavenly Parents and families." It is interesting and profoundly simple that we must focus on the joy of life. As we focus on the joys of life the hardships that continue to exist appear to be easier to handle.

After conference on Sunday night we went to the train station to pick up an Elder who was set to come in at about10:45. His train was repeatedly delayed until he got in at about 12:30. We got home and got to bed at about 2:00 am. It was a painful morning when the alarm clock went off at 4:50 so that we could get a group of missionaries to the airport by 5:30. After dropping off the missionaries we went to the Stake Center on temple square to meet the missionaries that would be flying out the next day. We loaded up their suitcases, collected money and IPADs and headed up to the mission home. On our way we stopped for Salchibrasas (huge pile of French fries, shredded chicken and German sausage, covered in BBQ sauce) At the mission home we ditched the outgoing luggage and picked up the incoming Island missionaries luggage and went off to the airport to pick up an Hermana and run her to the train station in time to catch her train up to Galicia.

While at the train station I had the opportunity to interact with several missionaries including those that are serving in Talavera. Throughout all of the chaos of transfers this was one of my favorite parts because my perspective was widened and no longer was it just running from place to place but instead it was putting the Lord's will as to where people should be into place.

Afterwards we went and picked up Elder Kirby from the mission home and came back to the office to try to get some normal office work done. Until we had to go pick up the missionaries going home from the mission home and take them back to our piso to sleep. Once again we got home late at about 11:30 and didn't get to bed until at least12:30.

Tuesday morning started early at 5:30 when we got up to get an elder to the mission home by 6:30 to be released by his stake president before going on a trip of Spain with his parents. After that was finished we went to temple square to drop off missionaries that were being picked up by their parents and to pick up the missionaries that would be entering our mission from the MTC. As we left the MTC I had with me five new Elders and one of them had lived in Boston about a year ago. As we talked we spoke about the different people that we knew until it came out that in a combined EFY for a Day we had been in the same group. Turns out he is Elder Randy Openshaw one of my friends from Boston Stake and we got to talk more about Boston and all he great things and people there. It was a cool experience that I hadn't had before on the mission.

New missionaries at Paracuellos de Jarama

We then headed off to Paracuellos de Jarama for a devotional from President that helps us to visualize the size and people that are ready to hear the gospel in Madrid. After his devotional Hermana Pack helps us to understand the principle of leaving our areas better than we found them. We then begin to clean up the area around the lookout picking up trash. As we spread out to pick up garbage an Hermana came up to me and asked about Dad's name? Turns out her parents are some of my Dad's old college friends.

After our time in Paracuellos we went to the mission home and dropped off the missionaries for training and instruction with the APs and the Packs. Until it was time for lunch - homemade Cafe Rio which is delicious every transfer. After lunch we set off to temple square for a training with the trainers during which time the office Elders get to explain some of the more logistical and temporal things to the new missionaries. It is always fun to see what crazy stories Elder Young might tell to the brand new missionaries. We just pray that they can understand what he really is trying to say to them.

When everyone has found out who their new trainers are and where they are going they take off and we waited for the islanders (missionaries headed to the Canary Islands) to rearrange their suitcases before taking them back to the mission home to sleep for the night before we pick them up in the at 5:00.

After dropping them off at the airport early Wednesday morning we took a couple of missionaries to get their residency done before they headed off to their areas. All in all, it was a couple of really fun days filled with a lot of adventures but without any big problems. But it still doesn't end there because on Wednesday afternoon I get a call from President asking when we were going to have our driving exams. I had no idea, he told me that he had just gotten a text from the driving school saying that we were going to have our tests the next day at 11:30. That is when I started praying. I knew that I needed to pass, I had no other option but to pass and I also knew that I would need a miracle to pass. As I was having my nightly conversation with my Father in Heaven I was reminded that I needed to smile. It didn't make sense but I thought okay.We went through our tests Thursday morning. I made a couple of goof ups but after each one I was told just smile and get through. When I would smile I would relax and could keep going without making bigger mistakes. In the end...I passed! I am officially licensed to drive in the EU for the next ten years :) We went out to celebrate at Tierra a burrito bar in Madrid.

And thus my week seems to settle down until today when we went to Casa Olivares a restaurant in a small town outside of Madrid. In the patio of the restaurant are many types of birds that will sit on your shoulder and you can take pictures with them. I will attach some of them. It was one of the best P days that we have had in a while.


I apologize for having written a novel but I hope that you have been able to get a couple of the messages that I wanted to share with you today. Remember to have joy in your lives!

I love you all!
Elder Gustafson 

Casa Olivares with Elder Douglas

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