Monday, November 24, 2014

Attitude of Gratitude

Elder G and Elder G
This week I can honestly say was one of the best weeks of my mission! We found a ton of awesome people this week. The first is a man from Ghana and has one of the best smiles I have ever seen. He is a very simple man with a big heart. We're really excited for him because the first time we met with him he decided that he wanted to be baptized. It was a miracle. He will be baptized on January 10th. It'll be a great way to start off 2015.

The next man is from Nicaragua and he is way cool! He's a boxer and has been for 14 years, since he was 10 years old! His trainer/Godfather's name is Ricardo El Matador (The Killer) Mayorga, a very famous boxer who won 30 of 39 matches, 24 of those as knockouts, with 6 titles. I was talking to him after sacrament meeting and he told me that when he was 18 years old he was about to sign to be professional and go fight in Las Vegas but he took a hard hit on his right eye. The doctor told him if he fought anytime soon he would lose the use of his eye. He chose not to sign himself on and 6 years later he came to Spain to try to find work. He has a really hard life now: no job, living in a hostile, and scraping for food. I told him I was really sorry about what happened to him in Nicaragua and he said to me, "God has a reason for everything and I know why I'm here now." He's going to be baptized on the 27th of December. It's looking like it's going to be a white Christmas.

We had a Zone Conference with all the missionaries in Madrid. 140 of us. It was amazing. We learned so much about how to be better listeners when we're teaching and about the 3 simplest but necessary things to do to receive a testimony: Praying, Reading the scriptures, and Attending church. We also learned a lot about the Apostasy. President Jackson shared a few things from Tad R. Callister's book: The Inevitable Apostasy. I'll be sure to read that book after the mission! At the end of the conference we learned about how the Savior is always with us. A scripture was shared that is found in D&C 38:7, it says, "But behold, verily, verily, I say unto you that mine eyes are upon you. I am in your midst and ye cannot see me." The Savior is always with us and watching over us, but what does he see? That made me think, a lot actually. After, two sister missionaries sang the song, "If the Savior Stood Beside Me?" Absolutely incredible, the spirit was so strong. Something that has helped me a lot throughout my mission is that with each decision I make I think about this question, "What would a true disciple of Christ do?" Or, it was better said by the apostle Quinton L. Cook, "Will this make you a better person?"

The superstar J gave his first talk this week. I know he is reading this right now too! Love you buddy! He's a weekly reader of the blog and he says Mondays are always the best now. Anyway, his talk was awesome! He spoke about Patience and had the crowd laughing as well as feeling the spirit. He's a natural and he did awesome!

Before I go, I would like to share a story I heard during sacrament meeting. It's an awesome story about being grateful. Seeing that Thanksgiving is coming up this week, I thought it would be pretty appropriate. It's a little long but hang in there.

A Letter to God

The house - the only one in the entire valley sat on the crest of a low hill. From this height one could see the river and the field of ripe corn dotted with the flowers that always promised a good harvest. The only thing the earth needed was a down pour or at least a shower. Throughout the morning Lencho, who knew his fields intimately, had done nothing else but look at the sky towards the northeast. “Now we’re really going to get some water, woman.” The woman who was preparing supper, replied, “Yes, God willing.”

The older boys were working in the field, while smaller ones were playing near the house until the woman called to them all, “Come for dinner.” It was during the meal that just as Lencho had predicted, big drops of rain began to fall. In the northeast huge mountains of clouds could be seen approaching. The air was fresh and sweet. The man went out for no other reason than to have the pleasure of feeling the rain on his body and when he returned he exclaimed, “These aren’t raindrops falling from the sky, they are new coins. The big drops are the ten-cent pieces and the little ones are fives.” With a satisfied expression he regarded the field of ripe corn with its flowers draped in a curtain of rain. But suddenly a strong wind began to blow and along with the rain very large hailstones began to fall. These truly did resemble new silver coins. The boys exposing themselves to the rain, ran out to collect the frozen pearls. “It’s really getting bad now,” exclaimed the man. “I hope it passes quickly.” It did not pass quickly. For an hour the hail rained on the house, the garden, the hillside, the cornfield, on the whole valley. The field was white, as if covered with salt. Not a leaf remained on the trees. The corn was totally destroyed. The flowers were gone from the plants. Lencho’s soul was filled with sadness. When the storm had passed, he stood in the middle of the field and said to his sons, “A plague of locusts would have left more than this. The hail has left nothing. This year we will have no corn.”

That night was a sorrowful one. “All our work, for nothing.” “There’s no one who can help us.” “We’ll all go hungry this year.” But in the hearts of all who lived in that solitary house in the middle of the valley there was a single hope, help from God. “Don’t be so upset even though this seems like a total loss. Remember no one dies of hunger.” “That is what they say: no one dies of hunger.”

All through the night, Lencho thought only of his one hope; the help of God, whose eyes, as he had been instructed, see everything. Even what is deep in one’s conscience. Lencho was an ox of a man, working like an animal in the fields, but still he knew how to write. The following Sunday at day break he began to write a letter which he himself would carry to town and place in the mail. It was nothing less than a letter to God. “God,” he wrote, "if you don’t help me, my family and I will go hungry this year. I need a hundred pesos in order to sow my field again and to live until the crop comes, because the hailstorm...." He wrote, “To God” on the envelope, put the letter inside and still troubled went to town. 

At the post office, he placed a stamp on the letter and dropped it into the mailbox. One of the employees who was a postman and also helped at the post office, went to his boss laughing heartily and showed him the letter to God. Never in his career as a postman had he known that address. The post master – a fat amiable fellow- also broke out laughing, but almost immediately he turned serious and tapping the letter on his desk commented “What faith! I wish I had the faith of the man who wrote this letter starting up a correspondence with God!” So, in order not to shake the writer’s faith in God the postmaster came up with an idea: answer the letter. But when he opened it, it was evident that to answer it he needs something more than goodwill, ink, and paper. But he stuck to his resolution: he asked for money from his employees, he himself gave part of his salary, and several friends of his were obliged to give something for an act of charity. It was impossible for him to gather together the hundred pesos, so he was able to send the farmer only a little more than half. He put the money in an envelope addressed to Lencho and with it a letter containing only a single word as a signature: "God."

The following Sunday Lencho came a bit earlier than usual to ask if there was a letter for him. It was the postman himself who handed the letter to him while the postmaster, experiencing the contentment of a man who has performed a good deed, looked on from his office. Lencho showed not the slightest surprise on seeing the money: such was his confidence, but he became angry when he counted the money. God could not have made a mistake nor could he have denied Lencho what he had requested. Immediately, Lencho went up to the window to ask for paper and ink. On the public writing table he started to write with much wrinkling of his brow, caused by the effort he had to make to express his ideas. When he finished he went to the window to buy a stamp, which he licked and then affixed to the envelope with a blow of his fist. The moment the letter fell into the mailbox the postmaster went to open it. It said, “God, of the money that I asked for only seventy pesos reached me. Send me the rest, since I need it very much. But don’t send it to me through the mail because the post office employees are a bunch of crooks. Lencho.”

Let's all be thankful in our circumstances and have an "Attitude of Gratitude," like President Uchtdorf has invited us to have. Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Birthday to one of the two best brothers in the world: Max!

I love you all,

Elder Giforos

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