Monday, March 16, 2015

Choose Today Who You Will Serve

We started last week off with a nice little Ping Pong tournament on P-day with the Elders from Vigo. They were pretty good. We have a great District up here in Galicia, I love missionaries. Our District consists of the 2 of us in Pontevedra, 2 Elders in Orense (which is about 2 hours from where we are), 2 Elders 2 Sisters and a Senior couple over in Vigo. They're great happy people. 

My companion has something called Celiac Disease, which means he can't eat wheat, flour, rye and things like that. The members here have been awesome with making him food without those things! I've been able to try some of it too and it's actually not too different. A member made us some gluten free brownies and they were actually some of the best brownies I had ever tried! I could live the gluten free life.. maybe.

Most of the members here speak English and Spanish. My companion made it known to me that a lot of the time when I'm speaking with the members we switch on and off from English to Spanish. I didn't even realize it! He said it sounds pretty funny though.

We had some companion exchanges this week. When my companion got on the bus to go to Vigo this thought ran through my head, "There goes my son." I love that Elder, he's a great missionary.

We had an awesome experience this week. We went to knock on the door of a reference we had received a week or two ago. Another Romanian family. Before we could even knock on the door it opened and a happy and possibly drunk man, who looked a lot like Robert De Niro, invited us into his house. Without thinking I went straight in! He seemed like a nice guy! My companion later expressed how he was scared to death to go in there. We entered and there was a ton of food! The man said, "Hombre, come!!" Which means, "Eat man!" We didn't eat with them because we didn't have too much time. We set a return appointment for last Saturday. We went and again they had a ton of food! The man from the last time was passed out on his bed. He woke up quickly though when he knew we were there. This time I took him up on his offer and I ate with him as he shoved food in his mouth while saying, "Come, come!" "Eat, eat!" We then shared the Book of Mormon with them in their language. The man took it and said, "I'm going to read half of this book... tonight." Great! He told me I was his brother, gave me a big hug and we left. It was a great night. I would never have walked into that house being who I was at the beginning of my mission. I'm starting to wonder whether I've become fearless on my mission or just kind of dumb! The result of my actions turned out well though, a new family to teach!

I came across a scripture this week that I really like. It's in the Old Testament, "And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." (Joshua 24:15) I love this scripture because it reminds us, if we have not already, to choose today who we will serve! Or choices are either the world or God. Once we make this decision we will be able to resist temptation from the world when it crosses our path because we will already know and have already decided who we serve. When I was little I made the decision to serve a mission. "I hope they call me on a mission, when I have grown a foot or two. I hope by then I will be ready, to teach and preach and work as missionaries do." That song was real for me! I was blessed with the opportunity to serve even before I thought I could. When that moment came I didn't even think twice as to what I would do. I had already made the decision of who I would serve.
You can bet that things that could've destroyed my possibilities of serving a mission came my way throughout my years of adolescence. Satan is real and he tries so hard to pick away at our lives as if it were a thin weak slice of ice. The amazing thing that the Gospel does is that it makes that slice of ice an enormous iceberg, which can be picked at but in the end does not affect in any way its purpose to float in a vast space of water. My testimony may not have been like an iceberg, but because of decisions I had already made it started at an early age to grow in size and strength.

We also need to realize that there are only two decisions we can make on who we will follow. God or the world (Satan). There is no "in the middle" or "fence sitting" when it comes to Salvation. The Lord said, "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth." (Revelation 3:15-16)

Choose today, if you haven't already, who you will serve.

In preparation for conference, which is coming up soon, I've been reading the Liahona from the last conference in October of 2014. I came across a talk by Elder Oaks that I love. (I remember meeting Elder Oaks when I was little, he came to our Stake and I remember shaking his hand. He is really tall. Maybe I thought that because I was a little kid though.) The talk is called "Loving Others and Living with Differences." Elder Oaks invites us to "Live in the world" but to not be "of the world." Using the Parable of the Leaven, Christ himself invites us, like leaven (or yeast) does, to raise by its influence (to raise others in this imperfect world by our influence and example). Elder Oaks gives some great advice on how we are to do this. He invites us to avoid contention but to defend the truth. A perfect example of this was when Christ did not condemn the woman caught in adultery but then lovingly told her to "sin no more." "Loving-kindness is required, but a follower of Christ -just like the Master- will be firm in the truth."

I was also thinking this week about all the people I've met on my mission that have told me that they were taking a "break" or a "vacation" from the church... "Vacations" or "breaks" from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints do not exist! Think about it like this...You have a girlfriend. Great. You date, everything is going well and then all of the sudden she decides that she wants to take a break from it all. You split up thinking that it'll just be a short break. That short break then becomes a long break. Before you know it you want to get back together but it just doesn't work like it did before. "Breaks" when you're dating someone never work! "Breaks" from the Church don't work either! Be a faithful member of the Church and always remember the divine purpose that comes from it. I know this church is true and I love my Savior Jesus Christ. 

In the 3rd verse of the hymn "Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee" it says,

"O hope of ev'ry contrite heart,
O joy of all the meek,
To those who fall, how kind thou art!
How good to those who seek!"

I wanted to close off my letter with a part from a talk by Gordon B. Hinckley back in April of 2000. The talk was called "My Testimony." He said, "Jesus is my friend. None other has given me so much....He gave His life for me. He opened the way to eternal life. Only a God could do this. I hope that I am deemed worthy of being a friend to Him."

Elder Giforos

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