Wednesday, December 31, 2014

December 29, 2014

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

I was showered and so blessed with many gifts and letters this season! I want to give a great big thank you to everyone who sent me something or wished me a Merry Christmas! From new watches and sweaters, to spam singles..I got it all. Thank y'all!

So it's finally snowing in Utah, huh? I'm glad to hear that. I's weird for me to now see pictures of snow haha it seems like such a weird thing to me. Texas has changed me a lot. I'm used to the heat and humidity now, I get cold if it's around 80 degrees....I don't know if i'm going to make it in Utah haha. 

I went on an exchange with Elder Henderson and Elder Montgomery this week. (Elder Montgomery and I had lived together in my first apartment, so we have already been friends for a while). Elder Henderson is from Nevada and we also have known each other for a few months and get a long extremely well..
The first part of the day, we were doing service for a family that lived in their area. The family was trying to break up there rock patio in the backyard, so they could replace it with a wood patio. We spent some time trying to break up the rocks and toss them in a big pile haha it was a lot of fun! The man then took us to Jack In The Box for lunch (boo-yah!)
Dinner that night made us an endless supply of Texas shaped waffles, and had us eat as many as we could. I came in second place with 6 1/2, and somehow Elder Henderson ate 10 1/2 waffles!! It was very impressive.
When we didn't have rides places, we walked around because their car is in the shop. We had some great lessons, and were able to teach their investigator named Brian, who is getting baptized on Thursday (New Year's Day). Brian is so awesome! He found the missionaries because he wanted to get closer to God, and now he is getting baptized!

Christmas Day:
To start off Christmas day, our whole zone met together at the Church (with all of their presents) and we opened our presents together. We went around 1 at a time and did that until all the presents were opened. It was so much fun to be there with a group of missionaries, and celebrate Christmas together.
We ate a lot of food that day. We had huge meals at the Vaupel's, Henson's, and Woodward's homes.
On Christmas day, we spent as much time as we could finding and teaching. We were able to have a great lesson with an investigator family, the Ramos'. We also met many new people who invites us back another time. It was definitely a much more productive Christmas than last year.

Christmas on the mission is certainly much different than Christmas back home. I feel like this Christmas will be on the ones I remember the longest. It was the most spiritual one I had, and even though I wasn't home I still felt everyone's love from all the letters and packages I have received. I can say that this has been my favorite Christmas so far.

Hunter Henson:
Hunter Henson is 11 years old. His mother is a member of the Church, and his father is very much against the Church. The parents have just recently finalized a long divorce. Hunter has been wanting to be baptized for so long! Now that the divorce is finalized he can be baptized, and he will be baptized this Saturday, the 3rd.
Hunter is such a good, intelligent kid. He is one of the sweetest people and has such a pure heart. He is also really funny and witty, haha Hunter and I have become good friends. The whole ward is super excited for him to be baptized!
Please keep Hunter in your prayers this week.

This is Elder Nichols last week. He is flying home to Utah on Saturday (the day of the baptism). He is such a fantastic missionary, and I learned a lot from him. He will continue to make an impact back home in Fruit Heights. Tell him "hi" for me at his homecoming.
That means that Elder Loveridge and I will be in just a regular companionship now (just the two of us). Elder Loveridge, is such a spiritual power-house, he's a great companion.

My testimony is that the Grand Creator of the universe loves us with an incomprehensible Fatherly love, because He is our Father. That love was best shown by Him sending His Son. His Son is the Christ. He is the Great I Am, Jehovah, The God Of Israel and the only way back to the Father.
The Atonement of Jesus Christ is infinite. There is nothing that it can not cover. The deepest root of a person can be completely changed by the Atonement. That is where Agency comes into action. Agency isn't having the ability to do whatever you want, it's how much you want the Atonement to affect you.
The gospel is undeniably true. It draws any honest thinker to their knees, and any competent thinker to consider. The Holy Ghost convinces all who sincerely ask.

I love y'all, have a Happy New Year!

Love, Elder Giles

Monday, December 22, 2014

December 22, 2014

Merry Christmas, y'all!

I want to start off by thanking everyone who has sent me Christmas letters or packages, all my family and friends and the Grove Creek 10th ward as well. It's been a lot of fun receiving a letter in the mail each day for the "12 days of Christmas". Even this morning, we got a knock at the door and it was "Cami", my mom's cousin, who lives in the area. She came by with her family and gave me a huge Round Rock donut! haha it was so nice!  It has been such a great Christmas time so far! With all the gifts we have been receiving, and we even got a Christmas tree for our apartment from a family in the ward. hahaha even without any snow, Texas sure has the Christmas spirit.... (I have a picture I will send of a sign that says "Merry Tex-mas y'all"....

SKYPE: We aren't exactly sure what time I will Skype y'all. It will be in the early afternoon though. I'll call early that day and tell you, so we can get it all figured out. I'm really excited to see all of your pretty faces again haha I can't believe it was so long ago that I Skype-d with y'all last. It feels like it was just a few weeks ago. It will be fun :)

Christmas Conference: On December 17th, we had our Mission-wide Christmas Conference, it's the only annual time that the whole mission meets together. It was so much fun! I was able to see missionaries that I haven't seen for a long time. I also took a picture with the missionaries that I came to Texas with. They are all doing so good!
In addition to taking a lot of pictures. President Slaughter talked to us a lot about the Atonement of Jesus Christ... oh man, he blew all of our minds.
They also do a Talent Show every Christmas Conference. Elder Shorts, Hilario, Tovar, and I were in a Mariachi band! hahaha we each made our own matching Mariachi jackets and played separate instruments. Mine was the maraca's. It was so much fun haha besides Elder Shorts, the two other Elders are both native from Mexico and they were singing in very strong accents haha I'll also send a picture of our outfits.
At Christmas Conference, they feed us the best barbecue ever! It was so much food!
On the way home we stopped at Gourdough's, in Austin. It is a burger restaurant, but instead of buns..... they use donuts.... hahahaah it was soooo good!

January 3rd: We have been teaching an 11 year-old named Hunter that really wants to be baptized. His mom is a great person, and is a member of the church, his dad is not. His parents have been going through a very long divorce for a long time now, and the father wouldn't let Hunter get baptized. As soon as the divorce as final, the mom would have full custody, so the dad was just try to prolong it as long as he can. Well, just recently the divorce was made completely final, and Hunter is so excited to get baptized! 
He will be getting baptized on January 3rd. He already has a very strong testimony, and for an eleven year-old he has a phenomenal understanding of the gospel. It was such a miracle that he is able to be baptized, and he is just so excited! Please continue to keep him in y'alls prayers and pray that everything will roll on smoothly towards his baptism.

My boy, Malik: Malik is still doing fantastic! He has such a strong testimony. He recently moved out of his friends house, and back with his mother, he told us yesterday that he knows he is supposed to share the gospel with her and the rest of his family. So cool!
He also taught the Sunday School class yesterday,and he did an incredible job! We are all so proud of Malik, he is just an incredible saint. There is a lot going on in his life right now though, so please keep him in y'alls prayers. He told me to tell you (my family) thank you for all the prayers on his behalf.

Christmas Gift:
Everyone loves to give presents around Christmas time. It's a great way to show that you care and love someone. Many people try to remember the true meaning of Christmas, and often think about what they can give Christ. That is a great question to ponder... however, He has already given us the answer. "And ye shall offer up unto me no more the shedding of blood; yea, your sacrifices and your burnt offering shall be done away, for I will accept none of your sacrifices and your burnt offerings. And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit..." (3 Nephi 9:19-20)

If we really want to give some to Christ "...offer your whole souls as an offering unto him..." (Omni 1:26)

Obviously, offering our "whole souls", might seem like a big commitment, but the more we give to Christ the more we want to give.

Weekly Assignment: Spread Christmas cheer.

I love you all, more than I can explain in words. I wish that you all have a very happy, merry Christmas. Everything is going well with me, I am happy and the Lord is watching over me.

Talk to you soon :)
Love, Elder Giles

December 15, 2014


Thank you all so much for all of the Birthday cards and packages! This was a great week, and I loved everything that I got. 
Tuesday: Was Elder Scroggs last day (he was one of the Elders who I lived with). So we had to shower and get all ready to leave the apartment before 7 and take him to Austin. We got to Austin a few minutes early, so we all decided to go to Super Burrito... one last time. It was so good! As always. We dropped Elder Scroggs off with the rest of the missionaries going home that day, and then drove straight back to Round Rock to have our Zone Meeting. There were two zones of missionaries there, and we gave trainings for a few hours on how to best use this Christmas time in spreading the gospel. It's always good to have big mission meetings and seeing missionaries that you are good friends with.
We spent the rest of the day with Elder Warren in a "trio", since his companion went home. We had dinner with a YSA named John who made us bratwursts. haha dinner with YSA's are always an interesting time, you can never tell what they will make.
Elder Warren is Spanish called, so we spent some time in the Spanish area finding and teaching people. A lot of fun. Crazy day.

Birthday: The day before my Birthday, Elder Nichols and Elder Warren took me out for lunch. There is a really good Mexican restaurant here called, "Chuy's". We went there and ate A LOT of Mexican food, and then had some delicious Tres Leches for dessert.
My actual Birthday was on the day of Transfer Meeting. When we first drove up there were a lot of missionaries in the parking lot, just talking and hanging out, and when I got out of the van they all started to sing "Happy Birthday" to me! haha it was so awesome! Even during Transfer Meeting they made an announcement that it was my Birthday hahaha.
I also got another companion on my Birthday!! His name is Elder Loveridge. It has been so much because I have been training a new Zone Leader, and Elder Nichols and Elder Loveridge had already been companions like 6 months ago haha so they have a lot of stories together, it's a lot of fun!
The apartment that we live in is so crazy right now!! It went from 4 Elders, to 6!! There is now two trio's of Zone Leaders in the apartment hahaha it is crazy!
I have already known all the missionaries previously in the mission, so we are all good friends. Such a good Birthday!!

I also opened up all my presents and we ate that cake on my birthday. The cake was so big! haha and luckily they spelled everything right on it that time. A group of YSA's fed me dinner and made me a cake on my birthday, i'll send a picture of me blowing out the candles on that cake

We also had two great lessons on my birthday! Happy Birthday.

I love you all so much!!
Thank you for everything that came this week

-Love, Elder Giles

Monday, December 8, 2014

December 8, 2014 Email!

Thank you so much for all the Happy Birthday wishes! I got a great letter in the mail from Grandpa and Grandma, with notes from everyone in the family! Thank you all very much, I loved it I'm very excited for my birthday cake this year! haha i'm not sure if you remember, but the cake that I got last year was spelled wrong. It said, "Happy Birtday Matt" haha so hopefully this store knows how to spell 'Birthday'.

A Hidden Talent:
This is so funny. So, in the Chisholm Trail ward (Young-Single Adults), we had a big ward Christmas Party/Family Home Evening on Monday Night. A lot of the ward came, and some people brought their non-member friends as well. They had a bunch of food: smoked brisket and beef and turkey! Oh, it was so good.
After all the eating was done, they had a "Variety Show", where people signed up to perform in front of the ward. Well, Elder Nichols and I singed up like a week previous, but could never figure out what we were going to do (mostly because we never talked about it). We did the only thing we know how...... freestyle rap.

Elder Nichols is really good at beatboxing, so he grabbed the mic and starting with a beat. The crowd would shout out a topic and I would rap about it for a few minutes. The first topic was "Jello Salad" and the next one was "A Bow-tie". The crowd got so into it!! It was so fun. I was pretty nervous at first, I was scared that I wasn't going to be able to rap that well... but once I got "in the zone", it all worked out pretty well.

haha I have some funny pictures from it I will send to y'all. You can't see the crowd in the pictures, there were probably like 60-75 people there. Loved it.

Unfortunately, the next day after our "performance", I felt pretty sick. I didn't feel well the majority of this week :(, but I am feeling a lot better now and I think I am just about all the way healed. It's really boring being a sick missionary. There is like nothing to do when you're sick. You can read your scriptures, or sleep, or walk around the apartment looking for stuff to do.... that's just about it. haha oh well. We went out on one of the nights and bought ourselves some 'Jack In The box'.... that helped quite a bit.

Back to SA-Town:
Went back to San Antonio again this week for 'Mission Leaders Council'. Again, we are the furthest Elders away from that meeting, so we have to wake up at 5 am to make it there on time. The meeting was great. President Slaughter talked a lot about the birth of Christ and the true need for a Savior. "You can't understand the Atonement, until you understand the Fall". It was such a great thing to learn about. I think we could all come to a better understanding of our need for a Savior, and as we do that it will make everything else we do for meaningful. 
On the way back from SA-Town, we stopped in Downtown Austin at our favorite taco shop. "Super Burrito". That place is some seriously greasy, Mexican food. It's some of the greatest food I've ever tasted haha it's everything I've ever dreamed off. We're actually going to be in Austin tomorrow morning, and i'll be getting myself some Super Burrito breakfast :)

A New Taste:
We had a family this week prepare us a dinner for my birthday. They kept telling us that it was going to be something new that we haven't has before. They were really mysterious about it, and refused to tell us what it was.
We arrive at the home. We walk into the kitchen and I see a bowl of mashed potatoes..... a bowl of corn.... a bowl of beans.... and a plate with some kind of meat on it. The mystery must have been the meat, but I couldn't tell what it was. It looked similar to roast beef.
The family served us up our plates, and gave us each a big ol' piece of meat.
I began the adventure, and took a big bite out of the meat. It tasted like beef, but only a little more squishy. After eating the majority of what was on out plate, they brought out this little plate with somethign on it. 
What was on it was the top of a tongue.
We had just eaten a 4 1/2 pound cow tongue. hahaha it was actually pretty good though! 

 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

Birthday Plans:
Transfer meeting is on my Birthday this year, so that is going to take up the most of the first of the day. Elder Nichols and I are staying together, and are getting another companion. TRIO! TRIO! TRIO! TRIO! Because Elder Nichols is going home half-way through this transfer, so we will be in a trio until he leaves, and then just the other companion and I.
We are having dinner that night with some Singles in the YSA ward who are coming together to make a Birthday feast for me! haha 
It's going to be a great week!!

I love you all so much!
Pray for Elder Nichols and I

Love, Elder Giles

Monday, December 1, 2014

December 1, 2014 Email

I'm glad that ya'll had a great Thanksgiving, mine was very good as well and i'll talk more about it later in the E-mail.
So exciting that the girls are performing the Nutcracker this week. They are doing to do awesome, i'm excited to hear all about it.
Going to get a tree every year as a family is something i'm so glad we did. It was so fun buying a tree and then decorating it with all the "decorations" we have made or acquire over time haha we always have the best looking tree. Hands down. 
I went on an exchange with a missionary named Elder Sant this week. Him and I know each other pretty well, we living close by each other a few months ago. We're good friends. The area he is in right now has been struggling lately with finding people to teach and staying busy. So, him and I decided to do everything we could and work as hard as we knew how that day to find a family to teach.
We hopped on our bikes and peddled away (my first time on a bike again since about 2 or 3 months ago). 
As we were riding our bikes down his street, we saw a couple who started jumping up and down waving at us. We both looked at each other, not knowing who these people are haha. Turns out that they are members from out of town visiting some family for Thanksgiving. The family they are visiting are inactive and have an unbaptized daughter. The couple told us how they had been praying to know hoe to help get these family active again, and then we rode our bikes right past them. Haaha awesome!! We went over and send up a lesson with that family.

At another point, we talked to a man who was busy packing up his car and seemed disinterested. I felt impressed to say, "Have you read the Book of Mormon?". He stopped, and looked at me and said "no, but I want to". So we taught him about the Book of Mormon, said a prayer with him and his family and set up another lesson with him. Awesome!
In the evening, we stopped by a man's house and he was telling us how he had a really busy, hard day. We offered to share a message that will help him fell better. He let us in. We then taught him and his family about the Restoration of the Gospel, and gave them a Book of Mormon. We also set up a return appointment with them.
The exchange was filled with miracles, and it was so fun to be working with Elder Sant.

All the missionaries in our zone did service at a Catholic Church for a few hours. They were serving food to people who didn't have anywhere else to go. So, we scheduled it with the Catholic Church, and they really wanted us to come. We all showed up and helped serve food to these amazing people We had so much fun, and it was a humbling experience for all of us. At one point, I decided to just walk around and talk to certain people. I would set down next to these people who have had hard lives, you could just tell by looking into their eyes, and I would ask them what they are grateful for. I probably asked that question to 50 people, all different ages and walks of life, and almost every single one of them said, "my family".
These people who don't have many clothes, or much money, or even a place to spend the holidays, understand what is most important. I hope that it would never make me get to that point to always remember what is truly important.

This Thanksgiving, I was extremely grateful for my family. My family which I haven't physically been with in over 15 months, but feel like they are always near. I, like the hundreds of underprivileged people who had no where to go on Thanksgiving, am thankful for my family.

Recent Convert:
Malik Abdul is doing phenomenal! Just yesterday he get the Aaronic Priesthood and was ordained to be a Priest. Only a week after getting confirmed, he got the Priesthood! He is doing do good! He is about to get a calling as well. He's just a powerhouse. I'm so proud of him.

I love ya'll!
Have a great week, and always be grateful
-Elder Giles