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