Monday, August 17, 2015

August 17, 2015


As I have pondered on what to include in my final email from Texas, I thought about sharing stories but quickly realized that those are not important. There will be time tell stories and share experiences.
My mission was not about "stories", it was about "becoming". I also realize that even though the Lord has enabled me to become more than I ever was before, my 'path of becoming' has just begun.

The Book of Mormon is "the most correct of any book on earth". It is the actual account of the literal civilization which anciently inhabited the Americas. It was divinely delivered to the Prophet Joseph Smith. It stands today as an undeniable witness of the reality and divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ. It has brought peace, faith, hope, and purpose to millions of people, including myself. I will always be thankful that I was privileged to share that most sacred book with many Texans!

The Authority of God which he bestows to man to further the salvation of His children, is the priesthood. That same priesthood was held in the primitive Church of Christ. When the Lord brought forth the Restoration of His church on the earth he sent heavenly messengers to restore the priesthood back to man. John the Baptist brought back the Aaronic Priesthood. Peter, James and John brought back the Melchizedek Priesthood. Both priesthoods were given to, and received by, the Prophet Joseph Smith. I have felt that Priesthood many times here in Texas. I have seen true miracles performed in the name of Jesus Christ. The Priesthood is on the earth, and it is here, in God's

"Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it" (D&C 135:3). Amen! I love the Prophet Joseph Smith. The world is in apostasy, and the only reason that we are not is because of what the Lord has revealed through Joseph the Seer. The world has no idea who God even is. Truly, without the Prophet,"[they] worship [they] know not what" (John 4:22). I have had engraved into my soul an unalterable testimony of the prophetic call of the Prophet Joseph Smith!

The Lord Jesus Christ is the plan of salvation. He is the gospel. He is "the way, the truth, and the life"
(John 14:6). He was born in Bethlehem. He was crucified on Calvary. He was placed in a tomb, but
no tomb can hold our Lord! He overcame death, assuring resurrection for all of mankind. He lives today as the Resurrected Redeemer of the universe. It is my conviction that our Savior, and His Father, appeared to Joseph Smith that sacred spring morning in 1820. This is His Church, and He is
in control. "I believe in Christ, so come what may" (Hymn #134)

Elder Giles

Monday, August 10, 2015

August 10, 2015

Y'all loved ones,

The heat is abundant in Texas. It's that time of year when you are never dry because of the mixture of humidity and sweat... I love it though. I have such a deep love for Texas and all the people here. I feel so humbled to have been able to be a part of these wonderful people's lives.

We visited with Charlie Houston a few times this week. He is such an incredible person! He gets along very well with all of the members here, and just loves the gospel. He already knows most of the doctrines and commandments, and is already living accordingly. He is getting baptized this Saturday!  It is so great to watch him get more and more excited as he gets more and more prepared.
Also, remember Jody and Tui? Well, they were in Salt Lake this past week visiting Tui's family, and on Saturday night they went to Temple Square.... Tui proposed!! They're engaged! Haha it is so amazing. I'm so happy for them. Jody got back to Texas early this morning and we are visiting with her this evening. She will be getting baptized really soon as well....

I really appreciate all of the comments y'all gave about how to best share our testimonies with out families. I am grateful that each of you have testimonies which have strengthened me at many times during my life. The influence a faithful person can have on all others around is much more than they might think. 

For The Strength Of Youth
Section: Sabbath Day Observance
-How can I more fully keep the Sabbath day holy?

"Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy... The Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it." (Exodus 20:8,11)
We hear interesting language in this commandment, "keep it holy". What does that mean?
Well, as we read, "the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it", 'Hallowed' means to consecrate or sanctify (set apart, make holy). 
So, the Lord sanctified the Sabbath. He consecrated it. He blessed it. He made it. The Sabbath was and is made holy by our Lord. We aren't commanded to make anything holy, or to create holiness, we are simply commanded to keep it holy.

How do we keep it holy?
"Holy" means to be 'dedicated to God'.
The commandment is to keep the Sabbath day dedicated to God. I wonder how many of us can honestly say that our Sabbath days are fully dedicated to God?

I'll say this much.. The Lord did not sanctify the Sabbath for the purpose of watching mind-numbing TV shows and eating the whole bag of Doritos. He did not consecrate that special day for us to watch as many YouTube videos as we possibly can, and level up on Guitar Hero. He did not bless that sacred day so that we can have more time to go shopping, or break our previous record for eating ice cream.

Verse 9 in Exodus 20 states, "Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work". The significant phrase in the verse is "all thy work". It's true, we do all of our work during the week, SO THAT we can have the Sabbath wholly 'dedicated to God'. It's a day of rest from our labors, not simply a day of rest from everything. 

Now, don't get nervous. That doesn't mean that He expects us to always be sprinting around doing service to others. He doesn't want us to completely disregard our health, or needs. I'm just trying to help us all see clearly what the Sabbath Day is all about.
Sometimes, the greatest way we can dedicate the Sabbath to God is by spending time with our loved ones, and strengthening those relationships. 
The Lord made the Sabbath day holy, and we don't have the right to make it unholy. But, we have the privilege to help keep it holy

I am grateful for the joy that I have received! I am grateful for the gospel which helps me to see all things with clarity.
I have full reliance on the Lord Jesus Christ and His saving truths.

Love, Elder Giles

Monday, August 3, 2015

August 3, 2015

Loved ones,  
The babies are going off to girls camp, huh? They'll do just fine! Those girls could survive in the jungle for years by themselves. They are both more intelligent, and stronger than me. That's fun that it is almost a full week long! They'll probably come home smelling a little peculiar. They are going to have a great time though!  
Charlie Houston is still doing really well. Charlie's mother was a member of the Church, and would take him to Church for a lot of his growing up years. His father, however, was against the Church and would refuse to allow Charlie to be baptized. Because he was never very close to the Church of the gospel, he has been through a lot of experiences in his life. He is now nineteen, and has "came to himself" (Luke 15:17). He reached out to us. He has been to Church the last two Sundays, and yesterday he introduced himself as, "Charlie, and I am getting baptized in two weeks!"
The gospel has already made a huge impact on his life. Each time we see him he is happier and more energetic. He is a really good person, and I'm grateful to be a part of his story.

For The Strength Of Youth:
Section: Family

-What are ways we can share our testimonies with our family?
-How does showing love to family members show love to the Lord?

The family is ordained of God. Parents are to raise their children in a married relationship. Marriage is between a man and a woman. Marriage is much more than "love + commitment", that is very basic and elementary. Marriage is about progression, preparation and loyalty to God. Marriage on earth is between a man and a woman because that is the only way it exists in heaven. We must see marriage as God sees marriage. We didn't invent marriage, and we can not re-invent marriage either.
We live in days similar in comparison to the days of Noah. In those days, only those who were loyal to the prophet survived. Interesting how history repeats itself.
My prayer is that each of us will rise to a higher commitment to sustain and support President Thomas S. Monson. I have total reliance and trust that he holds and exercises all the keys of the Priesthood given to man. He is a prophet of God.
We thank thee, O God, for a prophet!

I love y'all
Love, Elder Giles

Monday, July 27, 2015

July 27, 2015

How was Pioneer Day? Nothing happened here, but hopefully it was a big celebration in Utah! Elder Allen and I had a very busy week. We have been finding some really wonderful people to teach. There is one investigator named Charlie Houston who is getting baptized on August 15th! He has a powerful story. Basically, he grew up in the Church and his whole family is members, except for his dad. His non-member father was against the Church and wouldn't let Charlie get baptized. However, now that he is grown up and living on his own, he is ready! He already knows everything very well, he is really happy and excited to be getting baptized!
Jody and Tui are getting married soon! They are both going to Utah next week to meet Tui's family at a HUGE Tongan family reunion haha. They are doing really well.

You each have such wonderful responses to the For The Strength of Youth study! It was great to read your testimonies and the knowledge you have. Since this was a study we were doing together, I would like to share some of my insights as well...

The first line reads, "Heavenly Father has given you agency, the ability to choose right from wrong and to act for yourself". We have been given moral agency to "choose right from wrong". Right FROM wrong, not right OR wrong. I've heard the occasional person say, "I have agency, so I can do whatever I want". God did not give us moral agency so we can do "whatever we want". Agency is to choose God.
The book of Abraham helps us see this, "And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;"(3:25). We are here to prove that we will choose God, not do "whatever we want". Contrary to how many people think and live today, we are not given agency to be idiots. 
"He hath given unto you that ye might know good from evil, and he hath given unto you that ye might choose life or death" (Helaman 14:31) . In essence, life is one choice made by the millions of choices we make: life or death. God's Great Plan of Happiness is not for us to choose everlasting death. Yes, that is a choice (that seems to be growing in popularity) but that is not the plan. That is not why we have agency. Agency is to choose God. To choose right from wrong.

For The Strength Of Youth
Section: Gratitude
-How can you set an example of gratitude to others?
-"Express your gratitude to others for the many ways they bless your life" this week, and tell me about that experience. 

I love y'all! I love the examples you are to me. 
Choose God.
Love, Elder Giles

Monday, July 20, 2015

July 20, 2015

Loved ones,

It has been cooler here, until recently... It's not getting hot, and I mean HOT. The type of heat mixed with humidity, that by the time we walk out of our apartment to our car, we are  covered in sweat. Pretty fun. 
Y'all have been doing phenomenal with the Preach My Gospel studies we have been having. Your faith and diligence is always inspiring to me. You each have strong testimonies of the Restoration! You are sound with the doctrines of the gospel.
Seeing that you each have a firm grasp on the doctrines, we will be moving more into the "application" mode.
The Lord taught us that a "wise man" is he who, "heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them" (3 Nephi 14:24). There are two degrees of faith mentioned in this verse: the faith to hear, and then the faith to do. We have been "hearing" the doctrines of the gospel for years, but as we strive to further and fully "do" them we will receive all the blessings that come with greater faith.

The question is, "how can we start fully living the doctrines of the gospel?"
The answer is, "thank heavens that we are members of "the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth" (D&C 1:30).  It's "living" because it's led by the living Lord through his living oracles. The Lord, through them, has given us ample applicable knowledge. We will put a pause on studying from Preach My Gospel, and begin to study "For The Strength Of Youth"

A naive person may think that 'For The Strength Of Youth' is only for the "youth". Yes, it was written towards  the youth of the Church, but that's because all of us should internalize these vital principles and standards in our "youth". That does not mean, however, that once we turn 20 or 21 or 105 that we forget these essential life-long standards. 

It reminds me of the words from the prophet Alma to his son, Helaman, "O, remember, my son, and learn wisdom in thy youth; yea, learn in thy youth to keep the commandments of God." (Alma 37:35). Alma understood, and was teaching his son, the importance of learning and applying principles of wisdom as soon as possible. The Lord expects all of us to "learn wisdom in [our] youth", so that we "will remain steadfast and valiant throughout [our] lives and that [we] will trust in the Savior and His promises." (For The Strength Of Youth)

I invite each of you (family, friends, random person who somehow received this E-mail) to get a brand new copy of For The Strength Of Youth this week. Each of you, individually.

For The Strength Of Youth
-1st section "Agency and Accountability"

-Why did a loving Father give each of us the agency to choose right from wrong?
-What other insights did you gain about agency and accountability?

I am certain of the Restoration. I am sure that God's Kingdom is on the earth and is known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am convinced of the Savior's power to heal, change and save. God does speak through his chosen servants. Thomas S. Monson is absolutely and completely a prophet of God. As we following the counsel from God's oracles, we will be guided, directed and protected. 

Love, Elder Giles

Monday, July 13, 2015

July 13, 2015

Loved ones,   
I'm glad that y'all have been enjoying your extended stay in Oregon. Speaking of Oregon.... I received my new companion this past week. His name is Elder Allen. He is from Oregon! The other side from Ontario though, he is from Portland. He is such a great missionary, we have already seen miracles together and we work together really well. Our personalities are pretty similar, plus he laughs at my jokes... ALSO, guess where he just came from?! Yep, Marble Falls. He was also there for 6 months, so we have A LOT to talk about hahaha we have already had such a good time talking about those old, crazy people up there.
This is going to be a great transfer!

It's so fun to be staying here for almost 8 months. Haha I know this area so well now, but it's crazy how many people and places I'm still so unfamiliar with. I was informed at Church yesterday that I broke the record for the longest time a missionary has ever been in that ward.... Haha and I still have a month to go!

The last lesson that Elder Hendricks and I taught together was to Brother Tui on Monday night. Remember, Tui is a returning inactive who is living with he is girlfriend, Jody. Jody seemed to be more dedicated than him, he was surprisingly the one holding her back. For example, when he does show up to Church he just comes in BYU sweats. So, we decided to visit with just him. That lesson was POWERFUL! We discussed the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and read many scriptures about redemption and forgiveness. The Spirit was very strong. I could physically see hope enter into Brother Tui's heart as the Spirit taught him. He was so motivated when we left! That very night he went to the store and bought a new shirt, tie and slacks! Haha isn't that awesome? It was so amazing to watch him walk into the Chapel yesterday with his shirt and tie! They are doing great, just trying to find out a marriage date and then she will be baptized.

We have an investigator named Allizah (ale-eh-zay). Who is probably getting baptized on the 25th of this month. She is such a kind young girl. Please keep her and her family in y'all's prayers!

I love each of you! 
Love, Elder Giles

Monday, July 6, 2015

July 6, 2015

Yes I remember the "wall of fire" from the Ontario firework show. I've actually been telling a lot of people about it this week haha as they ask me about the Fourth of July. I just remember how you can feel the heat from the fire, there's no way that's legal.  Celebrating the Fourth of July in Texas is something that can only be experienced. Every street is draped with American flags every few feet. I also saw multiple people in all American flag clothing, including a man running shirtless carrying a large American flag. Now that I think about it, I think just about every single holiday is bigger and better in Texas. However I'm glad to hear that y'all had a great Fourth of July weekend and that everyone was safe.
That's great that you're staying longer, mom, in Ontario to help assist grandma. Please tell grandma (graham cracker) that I love her and she's in my prayers.

The weather has been unusual here for this time of year. It really hasn't been that hot, it actually feels really cool. Which is nice compared to the last two summers I've had here in Texas.

We had some remarkable experiences is this week with the people we are teaching. If you remember, Tui and Jody are a couple we've been teaching for a few weeks now. Tui is a returning less active returned missionary, who still has a strong testimony of the truth. Jody is extremely prepared for the gospel. She perfectly fits the description of those "who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it" (D&C 123:12). Jody has decided to be baptized, but they are living together without being married. So, the next step is to get them married! We went over to visit with them on Wednesday evening. When we walked into their house they were boyfriend and girlfriend, but when we walked out they were engaged! Haha! They have a tentative marriage date for August 14th, which means Jody has a baptismal date for August 15th!  They truly are a wonderful couple and we have already seen growth in them individually and together as they've been learning and living the Gospel. We're excited to continue to watch as they more fully live and accept the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I have now been in Castle Hills ward for six months. All the people we've been able to teach and be a part of their conversion have continued to strengthen their conversion to the Lord. For example, Danny Cavazos: yesterday at church Danny said the opening prayer, he passed the Sacrament, and he also bore a powerful testimony! Angelita is always one of the very first ones in the chapel reverently waiting for sacrament to begin! Brother Boyd is always wearing a nice looking suit with a big smile on his face! Gilbert Navarro loves the gospel. He has received the Aaronic Priesthood recently and he continues to strengthen his understanding and testimony of the restored gospel! Evon Kardos is such a saint! She hit the ground running when she got baptized and she's an incredible member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. However, unfortunately she's moving to another ward. 
We received transfer calls last night: I will be staying in Castle Hills!! That's five transfers! The last 7 1/2 months of my mission here in Castle Hills. I am so grateful to be staying I truly love this area and all the people here. Elder Hendricks will be coming home this week. He will be returning home a few months short of two years, because of medical conditions. He lives in Bountiful. He has been and is a phenomenal missionary! He has become one of my greatest friends. I love him.
I'll be receiving my final companion, for my final 6 weeks.... He will be another brand new Zone Leader, I'm excited!
I've been convinced that the Priesthood of God has been restored to the earth. By that very Priesthood families can and are sealed together forever. It is upon the keeping of our covenants which enables those promises to be fulfilled. I know this is true.

Love, Elder Giles