Monday, February 23, 2015
I'm glad to hear that Katie was the first one to recognize my name on that shirt haha it's so full of names! We actually went back there this week with the Bishop and gave a new shirt for them to hung up over top of it, and I was the very first to sign it! haha I'll send a picture of the new shirt, hopefully it'll be easier to find my name in this picture...
Cody Simpson is still doing great! He came to Church again yesterday in a brand new suit haha he was looking good! He really enjoys Church. He just loves the atmosphere of all the great people there. Now, we just need to get him and his girlfriend married in order for them to get baptized.
We are teaching a man named Lester Roundtree. We were out and about a few weeks ago, and we saw a middle-aged black man with a young baby, buying some snow-cones from the ice cream truck. We went and introduced ourselves, and he was very warm and open to talking to us.
He is in the foster-care program, and is taking care of a child named Angel.
He lived by himself, and doesn't have a car right now. He has had a crazy life, but is getting everything in order. We finally went back this week, and had our first actual lesson with him. We taught him the Restoration of the gospel, and he said that it answered questions he has had his whole life, that no other religion has been able to answer.
When we were concluding our visit, he said, "just from what you've told me, i'm 99.9% sure this is all true". haha So, we explained to him that the Book of Mormon will give him that last .1%, by the Holy Ghost.
The first time we saw him, he explained that he saw us on the sidewalk, and was hoping that we would talk to him. I'm so glad that we did!
We are going back to teach him more this week, and he will be coming to Church this Sunday.
This past week marked my 18 months in the mission.
As I reflected on this last year and a half, I am filled with gratitude for ALL the many things I have been graced to experience. I have felt the love of God, and the redeeming grace of Christ. I have seen people leave their lives of sin, and follow the Savior. I have witnessed the Holy Ghost touch countless hearts, and I have had the gospel of Jesus Christ embedded into my soul.
I have written a full page on every single day of my mission. I now have over 550 pages of journal entries as a full-time missionary. Those 550 pages could never withhold even a thousandth of all I have experienced thus far.
I love my mission, and I love my God!
I have many things to tell you, but the computers are busy this week, and I don't have enough time.
I love y'all! Trust God!
Posted by Amanda Shaw at 9:25 AM
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
I hope that everyone had a fantastic Valentine's Day!! It sure seemed like everyone in San Antonio was enjoying themselves. I guess all the men here are procrastinators, because on every corner they were selling chocolates, teddy bears, balloons and other random Valentine's Day gifts. Holidays are always very different for missionaries than other people, it's always fun though!
I went on an exchange this week with two Elders. I went with both of them in their area, so we were in a "trio" all day. It was a lot of fun! Their names are Elder Tovar and Elder Hansen, and they are both well-rounded missionaries. I have served around Elder Tovar before (he was in Hill Country Zone) so it was fun to be with him again, and Elder Hansen is fairly new to the mission.
We were able to do a lot of teaching together, and we did a lot of contacting people.
They were both really humble and kept asking for ways that they could improve, they are both going to be great leaders in this mission!
I'll send a picture of the three of us (with Elder White in the background) haha
His Name is Cody:
While visiting a lady in the ward who we knew nothing about, we found that she had moved. The new resident of that apartment is an African-American man named "Cody Simpson". He told us that he was meeting with missionaries about two years ago, and invited us back another time.
So, we went over on Friday night. As we were talking to him we quickly found out that he had a big hick-up: he didn't that that Jesus is the Son of God. It's actually very interesting because he believes in God, and he even thinks that Jesus died for our sins.... but he doesn't understand why we worship him.
It's a very bizarre, odd concern. We had a whole lesson on the divine Sonship of Jesus Christ, and that seemed to open his mind a little bit more.
On Sunday, he showed up to Church with a nice suit on hahaha he was looking really good! It's easy to teach people in the hood (here), but it's hard to get them to do stuff, like come to Church. So, Cody was our only investigator at Church this last Sunday, but he really liked it!
We went back last night and taught him the Plan of Salvation, really focusing on the role/necessity of Jesus Christ. It went pretty well. He is definitely opening his mind, and learning more. He is such a cool guy! I can't wait for him to get baptized!
A Cheesy Valentine's Day:
It was a little rough trying to teach people on Valentine's Day. Many people had other plans and priorities, than to listen to us. We were able, however, to have a lesson with one of our investigator's named Les. He is a middle-aged black man. He is very Christlike, and sincere. He doesn't have a car right now, so it's hard for him to get around. We taught him more about Church and the importance of it. He's working out the bus schedule to make it to Church this Sunday.
One of our favorite families in this ward is the Garza family. They are just awesome! They have already fed us like 3 or 4 times. Our dinner canceled on Valentine's Day, but they called us and invited us to go out with them. We went to a restaurant called "Chris Madrid's". It is San Antonio's best burger. The best part: they put a lot of cheddar cheese of the burgers!
haha it was probably the best burger I have ever tasted. The whole restaurant was very cool: they had all kinds of shirts and jerseys up that people would sign. They even had a missionary shirt hanging on the wall, that has been signed by HUNDREDS of missionaries. So, we signed the shirt and took some pictures of it (I'll send one)
I love y'all! Have a great week
Love, Elder Giles
Posted by Amanda Shaw at 7:18 AM
Family and Kin,
It's already spring weather there? haha it's been pretty hot in Texas for the last few weeks (besides the rain storms). Today is really bright, sunny and hot! Winter lasted a couple of days haha now it's already hot and humid again. I love it though! I love the Texas heat.t.
A Wonderful Experience:
This past Tuesday, the Round Rock missionaries (my last area) called me and told me that one of the investigators that I was teaching was getting baptized this Saturday. His name is Richard Martin and he is 23 years old. He reached out to us wanting to know more about what we believe. I was able to have 3 lessons before I got transferred, and on the last lesson I had with him he committed to be baptized on February 7th.
The Elders called and told me that he was still getting baptized on the 7th, and then they told me that Richard asked that I baptize him...
Well, the baptism was about 2 1/2 hours away on Saturday evening. I talked to President Slaughter about it, and he said that I should go and baptize him.
So, we had to leave at 4pm on Saturday and had a fun road trip all the way up to Georgetown, Texas (where the baptism was).
It was very special to see many of my great friends from the Chisholm Trial ward again. It was a sweet reunion.
The baptism was beautiful and planned out very well. As Richard and I were about to walk into the baptismal font, I told him that I was proud of him and we shared a hug. We walked into the water, and the room went silent. When Richard came up out of the water, he just stood there for a moment.. and the reached his arms out and gave me a big hug!
We walked out of the font, and went into the stalls to change.
As I was standing in that bathroom in Georgetown, Texas, dripping wet and standing in white, I felt so much happiness and thankfulness to my God! I just stood there for a few minutes, too happy to move. I was stuck in the moment when I heard Richard's voice from the other stall saying, "thank you".
I asked him why he asked for me to come back and baptize him. He said, "It's all because of something you told me. The first time I met you, you told me your testimony of the Book Of Mormon, and said that I could know it is true by reading it. I didn't believe you. I honestly thought you were full of it....but..... it was enough to get me to try it"
Three weeks later we were both dripping wet, standing in white.
This was yet another life-changing, testimony-strengthening experience for me.
What I told Richard, I will always say to all: The Book Of Mormon is absolutely true. It has the power to truly changed your nature, to expand your mind or even bring peace in a moment of concern. I will always declare the truthfulness and divinity of that book!
There is also a great principle demonstrated in what Richard said. He didn't believe me, he even thought that I was "full of it", but... it was enough.
It was enough for him to "awake and arouse [his] faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith" even though he had "no more than a desire to believe", he "let his desire work in [him]" (Alma 32:27)
and that was enough to cultivate and grow his faith.
This happens with everyone. We may not always believe everything right at first, but if we have that desire and let it work in us, God "will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost." (Moroni 10:4)
Elder Nebeker and I are doing great together, we are super good friends and always find ourselves in hilarious situations hahaha we laugh hysterically every day.
We have been staying safe in our area. We are getting to know many people here, and we love them! We have been so extremely busy! Sometimes we only have time to eat like a 15 minute dinner before our next lesson. We have been teaching A LOT and enjoying the work here.
We had a great lesson with a man and his mother yesterday (Anthony & Dana). They were so appreciative of us coming over and teaching them. The Spirit was strong throughout the lesson and the both accepted to be baptized at the beginning on March! There are just so many great people here... and they are all going to get baptized! haha
This was fun: Elder Nebeker and I went to a Mongolian all-you-can-eat buffet this week and ate quite a bit if Mongolian food.
I love y'all and I love my mission!
Please be safe this week, and have a Happy Valentine's Day :)
Love, Elder Giles
Posted by Amanda Shaw at 7:15 AM
Tuesday, February 3, 2015
This has been a week that has changed my life.
Many incredible things happened this week, but I will focus on the most prominent
Elder Russell M. Nelson, of the quorum of the Twelve Apostles visited our mission this week.
The entire mission met together at a Stake Center in northern San Antonio, there we sat in reverence waiting for the Apostle to come in. As President Slaughter and his wife walked in, they were followed by Elder Nelson and two members of the Seventy (Elder Foster and Elder Wright). As they entered the entire mission arose, and the Spirit FILLED the room. Tears came to my eyes as I personally saw an Apostle of Jesus Christ. He ushered for all of us to be seated, and then wished to shake everyone's hands.
As missionary's went up, one by one, he would read their name tag and call them by name.
When I approached that Apostle, shook his hand, and heard him say my name.. I could feel the power of God in him. His entire body radiated light and love.
There are billions of people on earth right now, there are 15,082,028 members of the Church, and only Twelve apostles. One of them was with me a couple of days ago. So incredible!
Elder Nelson is 90 years old. It was so spectacular to see someone completely filled with the grace of God. He was energetic, healthy, extremely witty and by far the most intelligent person in that entire building. Many 90 year-old people are losing memory, losing strength and losing knowledge. However, Elder Nelson was quoting and citing scriptures from all the Standard Works. He knows many languages (which he used to further explain definitions and answer questions).
Above all, however, is the authority that he holds. A true apostle of Jesus Christ.
He said many things that were so powerful, tears came to my eyes. He said one thing in specific, that has already changed my life and will be something that will continue to shape the choices I make.
As a full-time missionary I have already had the greatest privilege to shake hands and exchange words with Two of the Lord's Apostles, Elder Bednar a year ago and Elder Nelson on Saturday. Both experiences have left a very profound mark on me.
These are the days! These are the days when there are LIVING prophets and apostles that walk the earth!
If this work is not true, then they are just good men. But if this work is true, they hold the very same authority that Peter, James, John and other help anciently. They communicate with God, and direct His Kingdom on the earth today. They were and are chosen by God, and given His authority to speak in His name and do any and all things He demands.
I thank God, that I have that knowledge and am not ignorant of the most important thing on earth.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
We were also very humbled just yesterday. As everyone was watching the Super Bowl, and enjoying that time with their families, Elder Nebeker and I were talking of Super Bowl memories and reminiscing while we were on our way to visit a family. Many people didn't answer the door, or have time for us because of the game. We planned to visit a family who fairly recently moved from Sri Lanka. Their names are ridiculously long, so we just call him "Chris". They let us right in. Their ability to speak English is still improving, but they can understand fairly well. Their apartment looked vacant; all we could see were their two little children, and a couch. They are living on food stamps. It looked as if their children didn't have any toys, all we had on us where pass-along cards, so we gave them to the children and they loved them.
I asked if they could read English, and would like a Book of Mormon in English, the mother nodded her head. I grabbed it out of my bag and handed it to her. She grabbed the book and hugged it against her chest.
We asked what they needed, or wanted (so the ward came help out, the Bishop wanted us to find out) and they just mentioned a few small things, all of which were for their children.
On our way out, we had a prayer and Chris said it. He started out "Dear Heavenly Father," and then spoke in his native language. I obviously didn't understand anything he said, but I know that God was listening and understood Chris perfectly. That was a powerful moment.
While the rest of the nation was enjoying the Super Bowl commercials and pounding down guacamole, this young family had no TV, or food. Their children had no toys. The only furniture they had was a couch. But they were so happy to see the missionaries, to get another Book of Mormon and to say a prayer.
I am grateful for the experiences that a loving Heavenly Father is giving me to learn and improve.
I love each of you, and pray that you will be safe this week!
SO many changes. If this wasn't the work of the Lord, I would be way too stressed out hahaha, I will get to those in a minute.
Goodbye Round Rock:
Oh, Round Rock was so much fun! I was only there for 2 transfers, but we had two amazing baptisms and there are two more getting baptized next week! The work was really picking up in that area, and I was so glad to see that. I had some really great experiences there, but it's left in good hands. The missionary who replaced me was Elder Condie haha my 2nd companion in the mission and one of my best friends.
It was fun saying goodbye to all of the great friends I have made in Round Rock, and taking some pictures.
I'll send a picture of the Cuevas family, which is a family that we are teaching. I will also send a picture of me and the Elders I was living with in Round Rock, we were all such good friends!!
Companion # 9:
My companion's name is Elder Nebeker. He is from Arizona. We got "doubled in" which means that we are both brand new to the area. We have only been together for a few days now (like 3), but we have gotten along so great! haha we are already super good friends.
It's been a little stressful, with all the new changes, but we have been having so much fun together! And we both LOVE it here.
From Riches to Rags:
In the last 6 transfers, I have had 6 companions and 4 areas.... that's quite a bit of change haha.
My last two areas were both pretty wealthy and higher class. They were classy neighborhoods, and few or no slummy areas. Which has been fun, but isn't necessarily my style......
LADIES AND GENTLEMAN.... I am now in the "North Zone" of San Antonio city. We cover the southern most part of the North Zone, or in other words, Downtown.
The named of the ward is 'Castle Hills'
The area is HUGE, it covers such a large chunk of San Antonio city, there are thousands of people in just our area.
I love everything about this area. OH MAN, I love the feel of the city and now it's my area!!! A few nights ago, we were stopping by and introducing ourselves to some people the previous missionaries were teaching and we were literally in the downtown. The skyscrapers and huge building were right behind me. I didn't take any pictures, but I will this week!!
NEW ADDRESS Y'ALL:
1700 Jackson-Keller Road #3302,
San Antonio, Texas, 78213
There is so much to say, but I don't know what... haha we've kind been running around like chickens with our heads cut off...
I know the Lord is with us, and helping us and protecting us.
**HOWEVER, feel free to send letters and packages with goodies inside this week :) **
Next week's E-mail will be a lot better than this. Let me just say that I know The Lord knows me perfectly, and that has been shown to me over and over again on my mission. I love doing His work, and having His spirit with me. I have a sure faith in Christ and his prophets. This is the Lord's Church, and it's where I will always be
Love, Elder Giles