Thursday, December 22, 2016

He is There

December 21, 2016

Let me share with you a Christmas miracle that we have seen this week. On Monday Elder Trantham and I went to La Moraleja, a very posh area of Alcobendas, to give an English copy of the Book of Mormon and “Meet the Mormons” to an American family that he had met a couple of weeks before. We had taken the time to wrap these gifts making them a Christmas gift for this family. As we got there and rang the door bell the dad who was waiting in his car, got out and told us that he was waiting for his daughter and that we could move along without bothering them. We left understanding that part of his family could have benefited from this Christmas gift but also with the faith that we could find another family, English speaking, that would enjoy our gift. So we went down the street to knock another door and to our surprise the woman who opened the door was very American, in fact so American that she had worked in Nashua, NH. We spoke for a minute but she didn't really want to hear from us, we offered the gift thinking that she was the one who would use it but she rejected it saying, "Give it to someone who will use it". That was the line as we spoke with several other English speaking families that night, "Someone else will use it."

As the night drew to a close we decided to be done for the night and head home. I felt down not knowing why we had come to La Moraleja and come so close to giving out a simple gift all night long but hadn't been able to do so. We both felt disappointed and ready to be done. Until we saw a dark-skinned kid walking up the street and Elder Trantham said to me, “he's the one.” I thought no way he's South American and probably won't come close to speaking English enough to read the Book of Mormon. We slowed down and casually greeted him and he walked past but Elder Trantham came to a stop and stopped this kid. We began talking to him in Spanish he introduced himself as Leron and somehow the fact that he speaks English came into the conversation. What do you know, this kid from South America is actually an American born and raised in Ohio. During the following minutes we had a great conversation about how God still guides his people through prophets and we were able to give him a Christmas gift that we hope can influence his life for good. It taught us the importance of continuing until the end. There is no stopping, there is no being done, keep going there is someone ready for the gospel.

I am grateful for this and all the other wonderful lessons that I have been taught over the past two years. I came to Spain hoping that I would become someone different because I could change myself during two years. I was hoping that along the way I could be able to help someone, to show someone what the gospel is. I have realized that in two years I have not changed myself, I have not changed people's lives, but I have been changed, and I have been an instrument in the hands of the Lord who is in charge. He is the master and there is no other. In two years I have come to understand that I am nothing when I am alone, but I know that when the Lord is with me I can see Him work miracles. I have had the incredible privilege to see Him work miracles in the lives of those around me. I am grateful to have found a best friend on the mission. I have always wanted a brother, what I haven't realized is that I've always had one. I am grateful to my Savior for the opportunity that He has given me to be here. I am grateful for the many chances that he has given me to repent and to change. He has been merciful with me, allowed me to change, comforted me when I was in need. I know that He is my Savior, my Older Brother. I look forward to his continued companionship as my life takes a turn and I start a new chapter. I love Him. I invite you all to seek Him in your times of need, He is always there, always willing to forgive, always quick to strengthen, always loving. He has always been there for me and He will be there for you.

I love you all,
Elder Gustafson

The Best Two Weeks

December 12, 2016

This week has been absolutely amazing! I more or less got transferred out of the office. I have been transferred to work with the APs for my last three weeks. It was a solution to a couple of problems with me leaving the office. First, I am still close by with any problems that might arise in the office. Second and most importantly, I know all of the members in our ward and won't have to worry about getting to know a new area and completely new people in three weeks. It has been such a blessing for me to focus 100% on teaching and finding and working with Elder Boyd and Elder Trantham.

This week we have been able to do some pretty cool things. There is a missionary choir that has been practicing for weeks to do several performances throughout Madrid. We went into Puerta del Sol a big square in the center of Madrid, and Plaza Mayor. As the choir sings we get to go through the crowd handing out wrapped copies of the Book of Mormon talking with people and being able to spread the name of the church. It has been a really cool experience to see how music has opened the doors for conversations about the gospel.

Elder Trantham and I went this week to suburb or San Sebastián de los Reyes called La Moraleja to knock doors. It was such a cool experience. As we walked down and into that area there was an almost immediate change. It is a pretty high class area. It was interesting to see that as we spoke with people they were far more willing to be polite and courteous even though many still rejected the message. We did find a family from Puerto Rico that invited us to come back this next week. I look forward to going and getting to know them better.

This week at church I had a pretty special experience with a member here. Over the past many months this member and I have become quite close. I was quite concerned when he didn't show up for church. When
he got there right before the third hour he didn't look like he was doing very well. After the meetings were over we went into another room and he cried on my shoulder and told me about a devastating experience that he had gone through the night before. As we talked I felt such love for him, someone that I met just a couple of weeks ago.

It is amazing to be able to understand in a small part how the Savior feels about someone as you minister to them. I am grateful for my Savior and the love that he has for me and all his brothers and sisters.

I love being a missionary there is nothing better because I get to focus my mind and my heart completely on the service of others. I am so grateful to be finishing my time as a full-time missionary in the field teaching my brothers and sisters how to find true happiness as I have found it. These will be the best two weeks.

I love you all,
Elder Gustafson

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Light the World

Madrid Temple with Tono and other Elders

December 3, 2016

Today has been an amazing day! But let me back up a little bit. We have been working with Toño a member that returned to activity about two years ago and we have been able to help him in that process. We have been working on his genealogy, focusing on finding his relatives to do their work in the temple. This morning I got to go to the temple with Toño to perform the work for his ancestors. It was a special experience that we got to share together. I love the spirit that accompanies us we serve our ancestors and our fellow man. There is nothing so sweet as to walk out of the waters of baptism knowing that lives have been changed.

This week we also went to pass by a woman named Tania. She has not been to church in several years and we were able to get in and talk with her last Monday! She is a wonderful lady who has just needed an invitation to come back to church. It was a great opportunity to talk about the role that Christ has had in her life and what she does to show that light to those around her. She committed to coming to church tomorrow and then on Monday we are going to visit her again. (It also doesn´t hurt that she is baker, very experienced in the art of Gluten Free cooking!)

One of our main focuses this last week has been on spreading the Church´s new initiative Light the World: 25 ways in 25 days. If you have not already watched the video at and if you are not looking for small acts of service every day, I invite you to start today. Look for a small way in which you can emulate our Savior Jesus Christ and his life of service, every day from now until Christmas.

I have been able to feel that as I have started to ask "What more can I do today to serve someone else today?" the love of Christ even greater in my own life. When we get down, distracted, or lost the key is to get up and follow the Savior´s example of service. I know that you too will feel the love of the Savior even more in your life this Christmas season as you focus on how you can serve others, in small ways each day.

I love you all,
Elder Gustafson  

P.S. I might be getting a transfer out of the office for the last three weeks in the field. That being said, I might or might not write on Saturday depending on what happens with transfers. My P-day will probably change back to Monday the following week.