Monday, April 27, 2015

April 27, 2015


I had no idea that Grandma and Grandpa Tolman would write poems all the time. haha I guess the rhythm of rhyming is just in my DNA. That explains a lot.
Glad to hear that y'all had such a great, busy week.  I love that our extended family is always coming into town. It's so nice to have such a close family! The babies had a piano recital today? I'm sure they both did amazing!  For some reason they are both very gifted with piano. I practiced piano diligently, day and night, for years but when the girls came a long they were instantly better than me. Oh well, that's just the way it is.
hahaha Amanda and Mom will be practicing pulling people over this week. I would love to watch that! "Excuse me... excuse me,.... would you like to, possibly, pull over....and pay a ticket...... or, I can just pay it.... yeah, i'll just pay it for you..... have a good day....".
teaching Angelita has been such an inspiring, incredible experience. She was first found about a week before Elder Nebeker and I got transferred into the area. The Sister missionaries just knocked on her door and she let them in.
When we first started to visit with her, she was meeting with us and some Jehovah's Witnesses. But that only lasted a couple of weeks. We never even said anything specifically about it, but she told the Jehovah's Witnesses to stop coming over. "I have joined with the Latter-day Saints, and that is my Church. Don't come over and talk about anything different from my Church."
She was very open to the Spirit and would feel every time we would visit her. She quickly came to know that Joseph Smith was a prophet.
We had many spiritual experiences with her.
It was amazing to see the apparent change and transformation that has happened to her. You can visibly see the change in her countenance, she has more light in her now and it shows! Her happiness grows by the day.
I had never seen her as happy as she was at her baptism.
She was baptized by a Priest in the ward named Ambrose Garza. He is an absolutely incredible young man, and will be a phenomenal missionary!
The power and Spirit of God was greatly felt at her baptism. Many member of the ward came out the support her, and she is already a part of the wonderful congregation.

To see a child of God progress from confusion and darkness, to understanding and light is such an amazing and magnificent experience. One that will always be imprinted in my heart.

Why would anyone ever leave the Church that has the power and authority of Almighty God?
Elder Nebeker and I had some really amazing experiences with the Priesthood this week.
1) We stopped by a rather random Less-Active family in the ward this week. We planned the night before to go visit them, we didn't know why at the time.
When we got there, the mother of the family went on the explain that very recently her older daughter had passed away. They were all in a deep mourning phase, and were pretty depressed. She explained that she kept feeling that she "should call the Elders", but she never did. She kept feeling that way for a few days... until, we just stopped by. 
She said, "I never did call you, but you came... because God called you" 
We taught and testified of God's great plan of happiness, which doctrine always calms and stabilizes the uneasy heart. We answered many of their questions. Then, they asked for individual blessings.
As I laid my hands on the oldest son's head, I felt a profound love for him. A love that wasn't from me. I went on to give him a blessing, which I never can really remember what I say while in the Spirit. I do remember, however, that after the blessing he stood up with tears pouring down his face and said, "That was too accurate". "That's because it wasn't from me" I said, "It was from your Father in Heaven".
"I know it was." 

2) A young family in the ward named the Mann-Ramos' called us on Saturday asking if we could come over and give a blessing. We said we would. At the time, we had a lesson planned at every part of the day, we literally wouldn't have had time. We were talking about what we should do, then one of the lessons called us saying that they had to postpone for a few days..PERFECT!
We drove over to their house, and saw Julian sitting up in his bed, looking like he had just been in the war. He looked terrible, and from what he explained, he felt even worse.
He had never before received a blessing of healing, but he had faith.
He refused the medicine that he mother was trying to give him as we walked in, because he knew he was about to receive a Priesthood blessing.
Well, I laid my hands on his head, and through me the Lord promised recovery and healing. It was a powerful blessing to be a part of it. 
Just seconds after I ended the blessing he said, "Wow. I feel a lot better!"
A few more seconds went by, then, "Wow. I feel A LOT better!"

Gilbert Navarro is getting baptized this Saturday!
Danny and Tulsy are getting married on the 15, then Danny is getting baptized on the 16th!
Evon Kardos (I used to spell it Yvonne Carter... yeah, I was confused) is getting baptized in May 23rd!!

God absolutely lives. Jesus is absolutely the Savior. The Book of Mormon is absolutely true. To leave this Church is an absolute mistake.

I love y'all!!
Love, Elder Giles


Monday, April 20, 2015

April 20, 2015

Loved ones,

WOW. What an absolutely incredible week! I love my mission so much!
It looks like y'all had a great time as well in Ontario. You look incredible in that picture! You'e the only person I know who gets younger with each birthday. The birthday cake sure does look delicious, Mom. I am sure that you loved celebrating your birthday in Ontario, and hopefully you enjoy my birthday card! I love you

The babies have been doing "no TV for a week"? That sounds really hard. I don't even know if I could do that! hahaha that's great though! They definitely need time to turn off "Finding Nemo" and "Max and Ruby". I'm proud of them.
Amanda and Mom are doing 'Police Academy'?.... oh, brother.... The last thing the world needs is Amanda running around trying to do a citizen's arrest to everyone she doesn't approve of. That's really cool that the city is doing that though. Sounds like a ton of fun.

Well, it's official. He's a Mormon.
Brother David Boyd got baptized on Saturday, the 18th. But, let's back up a few days...

On Wednesday, he had his baptismal interview with the District Leader. He was very excited to talk to him, and was extremely prepared for the interview. After a few minutes, they came out from the back room and Brother Boyd, with tears streaming down his face, walked straight over to his wife, hugged her and said, "I love you!". It was such a sweet, tender moment. Brother Boyd then came and hugged me, and then everyone else in the room haha

The baptism was beautiful, and much of the ward came out to support him. In fact, there were so many people that we had to do the service in the chapel, so everyone would fit. Brother Boyd was baptized by one of his best friends in the ward, named Brother Taylor. Brother Taylor is straight from Samoa, and joined the Church as an adult. He still has a very thick Samoan accent... and he is such an incredible man.
As Brother Boyd came up out of the water, they embraced each other. Then, Brother Boyd turned to the crowd with a huge smile on his face and waved with his hands high above his head. hahah it was great!
He bore his testimony right before the Baptismal service ended. In the testimony he said, "I always knew this Church was true, I just wanted to join on my own terms.... well... instead I came in crawling" haha. Remember, this man has been 'investigating" for 13 years! He kept pushing everything off, until the Lord finally "snatched" him... and he came in crawling.

The next day, he got confirmed in Sacrament meeting. It was a wonderful blessing, and the Spirit was very strong. As he arose, now a member of the Church and endowed with the gift of the Holy Ghost, he hugged everyone in that circle. Then, with tears now running down his face, walked humbly back to his family. Now, the family was all members of the Church.

It was incredible to be a part of his experience, but it was all from the Lord. The Lord is so wonderful, and loves all of us. I am forever grateful for the evidences I have of His love.

Go Brother Boyd!

The work continues to hasten, by the day. Elder Nebeker and I are working so hard, we honestly come home for the day, and just fall asleep before our heads even hit the pillows. We are grateful for it, though. Grateful that the Lord trusts us this much, to teach His children. 
This so y'all can keep these people, and their baptisms, in your thoughts and prayers.
We currently have:

Angelita Espinoza- April 25th (This Saturday!!!!)
Gilbert Navarro- May 2nd
Danny Cavasos- May 16th
Yvonne Carter- May 23rd
Cody Simpson- May 23rd

I truly love each of these people. It has been such a spiritually enlarging experience to watch each of them grow, learn, and progress. To watch the light, and happiness come into their lives as they learn more truth about their God. Each day, my testimony clings and intertwines even deeper to the rich bedrock of the Gospel.

 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 
You all had great comments and thoughts from last weeks study about 'God is our Loving Heavenly Father'. Thank you for your testimonies! Now, make sure they are always getting stronger and that you never, never, never lose them.
Always remember that even though a few members do not endure or remain fully active, enduring to the end is a personal responsibility.

-Chapter 3: The Lessons
-Lesson 3: The Gospel of Jesus Christ
-Section: "Endure To The End"

*After reading through this, all I want to know is.. 
What are you going to do to make sure that you always endure to the end, and that you never, never, never leave this Church?

I'll start this week, here are some of my thoughts.
1- The Lord (meaning his commandments, His Church, His scriptures, etc.) always comes first. Ezra Taft Benson has said, "When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives"

2- I choose to never be offended. I will never let the words or actions of another prevent me, or my family, from accessing the full power of the Savior's Atonement, which can only be found in and through His Church. 

3- I will always respect, honor, sustain and support my leaders. 

But, I am most excited to hear what your answers are! Nothing makes me happier, than knowing I have a faithful family. Nothing would break my heart faster, than hearing that one of my loved ones has left the faith they once cherished. If any of you do, for whatever reason, you can be assured that I will be coming after you.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true and living church on earth.
Never leave.

I love y'all!
Love, Elder Giles

Monday, April 13, 2015

April 13, 2015


I received the package from Ontario this week, thank you so much! Those cookies came just in time haha. Those pictures look like y'all are having a lot of fun there.

Thank you for sharing your testimony of the Sabbath Day, Mom, that really touched me. You've always had such a strong testimony that I've depended on many times. Thank you

I'll begin with the updates and news from this past week! It was such an incredible week. Really though, probably one of the greatest weeks of the mission so far (that's impossible to judge though). First, TRANSFER NEWS: Elder Nebeker and I will both be staying together again in this area!! That is going to be four and a half months together! That's usually a long time, but Elder Nebeker and I are just about best friends, so it's nothing. We are so excited to be staying together. He's going to be the companion I had for the longest (because after this transfer, I only have two more..). This is also his last transfer in the mission, so he goes home in just six weeks.
ALSO, One of the reasons we are so relieved to be staying together is because we are so busy and have sooo much going on. For example, David Boyd is getting baptized this Saturday. Yvonne Carter is getting baptized two weeks after that. A week and a half after that Danny and Tulsy Cavasos are getting married, then Danny is getting baptized the next day. ALSO, Angelita Gonzalez and Gilbert Navarro will both be baptized in the next few weeks, we just don't have a set date yet.

This past week, I was very humbled. I went on an exchange with a certain Elder and learned much more than I was expecting.
I could tell that he was pretty nervous as soon as I got there, so I tried to get him comfortable and open with me, before we went out to try teaching others.
Throughout the day, we continued to talk and he started to open up about a lot of things that have been on his mind, and things that stress him out about the mission.

We stopped, and talked. We talked about what's on his mind. The conversation ended with what we are going to do to make sure we never fall away from the Church.

We didn't have any amazing lessons, or lose pounds from sweat... but, it was a perfect exchange.

Now, a little background: I don't mean this to come across in any other way but to show how long it took me to learn this lesson... I have been a Zone Leader for about 10 months now, and I have been on probably 30 or so exchanges with other missionaries.

This past week, I finally realized that exchanges are all about. It's not about how fast the Elder walks, or how he knocks on a door. It's not about how he teaches, or how I teach. 
It's about where he is going, and how I can help him to never, never leave this Church.
It's about love. Truly loving this person, and ministering to them as Christ would.

Obviously, this principle is universal. In all interaction with our fellow-man. Why wouldn't we be Christ-like? Why wouldn't we want to ease the burdens, that we don't know specifically, but we know are there? I hope we will all strive to always leave a disciple-like impression on friend, and foe. 

-- I wish I could go on and on.. but time is my enemy today. The words of the Book of Mormon best describe how I feel, "...this [E-mail] cannot contain even a hundredth part of what was done..."(3 Nephi 5:8). But, more GOOD NEWS, I continue to write in my journal everyday and I have now written over 600 pages.... so, we will all be able to reminisce on those :) 

As the days of my full-time mission go on, the truth of God sinks deep into my soul. My veins are filled with the blood of the Restoration. I feel as if every part of my body wants to cry out that, "God lives! Jesus is the Christ! and Joseph is Their Prophet!"
After many months of many people yelling at me, shaking their fists and stomping their feet, insisting that this isn't true.. yet, my testimony is unshaken.

I know what I know.

I love y'all!
Love, Elder Giles

Monday, April 6, 2015

April 6, 2015


Yeah, it was a great surprise to get all of those goodies from Brian, Shannon and their family. It was actually the morning that we had MLC, and we were just finishing getting ready to leave when someone knocked at the door. If they would have been a few minutes later, we would have walked right into them haha. It was great to read that letter from them, and receive all those goodies. I'll send a picture of all the stuff they gave us! It was a great surprise!

There is a member here in this ward, that also lived in the Marble Falls ward the entire time I was there. He recently moved into this ward. So, I have already spent about 9 months of my mission around him. He is a great, very interesting man and we have become good friends. He loves to take us out to lunch, and tries to take us to the places we "need to see" before we leave San Antonio. This week, he took us out to Fuddrucker's. Fuddrucker's started in San Antonio, and we went to the very first one ever made. It was super cool! It was fairly old, and much smaller then the Fuddrucker's we have in Utah. It was awesome though, and apparently a lot of restaurants have their roots here in San Antonio. I love this city! It's so much fun serving in the center of town, and having just about everything in your area. We sure have had a lot of San Antonio stories in the last few months.

Brother Boyd is doing great! We went over to teach him a couple of times this week. The first time we went over, I asked him what had helped him finally decide to be baptized. The answer was that he got in a car accident on Friday, and as that happened he realized that he knows this is true and that he needs to stop procrastinating. He then grabbed his Book of Mormon and began reading from Mosiah chapter 27 , "Nevertheless, after wading through much tribulation, repenting nigh unto death, the Lord in mercy hath seen fit to snatch me out of an everlasting burning, and I am born of God. My soul hath been redeemed from the gall of bitterness and bonds of iniquity. I was in the darkest abyss; but now I behold the marvelous light of God. My soul was racked with eternal torment; but I am snatched, and my soul is pained no more." (v. 28-29)
The Spirit filled the room, and tears came to his eyes as he said, "That is me".

Another amazing experience we had with him was when we first started going over the Restoration of the gospel through Joseph Smith. He started going on somewhat of a tangent, and I can't even remember what he was saying. Then he stopped, looked right at me and said, "But, I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God". He said it with such conviction and belief! I LOVE when I hear investigators share their testimony of the Savior, His restored gospel, and His prophet, Joseph Smith!

He also came to the Sunday morning session of General Conference at the Church building with us, and some other investigators. He came basically running up to me when it ended, and with a smile from ear to ear said, "That was a great Conference!"

He is so much happier now, since he has made the decision to be baptized! He just radiates joy and happiness. It's amazing to see.

He is getting baptized on the 18th, at 5pm :)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

I love y'all!
Love, Elder Giles