Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Cheers! (Monday, May 20th)

G'day mates,
Well I got my Visa for Australia!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I leave in......

I'll tell you after I finish my letter. ;)

This week was an amazing week. Elder Bennett and I decided that we would do everything in our power to make this week one dedicated to getting lessons and get in to as many houses as we can so the spirit can penetrate hearts. Well, when you set goals and work toward them with a vision in mind, the Lord helps your reach that goal. We had 12 Member present lessons, and about 5 Less-Active/ recent convert lessons. Our averages are usually like 5 and 2 so we had a lot of help from the Lord.  My testimony of prayer has also grown a lot this week. We were challenged to try to pray more specifically and when we are teaching, to pray simply but specifically. I am here to tell you... it works and it works miracles.

Elder Bennett and I were teaching a less active named Pat Johnson. He is an alcoholic, a smoker, and has had some issues with his family. We talked to him one day and he had been sober for 4 days! THAT IS THE FIRST TIME HE HAS NOT HAD A 12 PACK OF BEER IN OVER A YEAR. We were ecstatic with his determination and trust in Christ to take his pain and help him through his withdrawals. Well, we decided to start giving him a lesson and I had this feeling to offer the opening prayer. Before hand I asked Pat, if he was speaking face to face with God right now, what he would ask from him. He told me that he wanted to have no desire to drink, so I said a short and simple prayer asking for strength to be given him in his time of need, that his desire and addiction would subside, and afterwards we both were teary eyed.

Pat and I have an interesting connection. It's hard to explain but I know that he is one of the reasons why I was called to SLC South. I have never felt so much love for this man, for his concerns and his desires to change. I honestly feel a essence of the Love of Christ coming through me, and I cannot help but want to help Pat in EVERY facet of his life.

Anyway, back to the prayer. He shook my hand and we proceeded to talk a lot about the Atonement of Christ, repentance, faith, and the importance of Church for our enduring to the end and maintaining the Holy Ghost in our lives. At the end of the lesson, he told us he was going to go to church this week if he had work off. We got him a order for clothes and..... HE HAD WORK. DA HECK. But, I know that he is changing, that he is sobering up, and that he is coming closer to Christ every day.

On Saturday Elder Bennett and I had a BAPTISM!!!! Chris and Natalie Johnson got baptized by their dad. Their family has been inactive for over a year or so, and it took MONTHS to get into their home. The spirit just took over in their hearts. Anyway, their baptism was spectacular and the confirmations were emotional. I have never felt the presence so strongly in my heart than during the blessings conferred upon the innocent heads of Chris and Natalie. The father, Chad, was choking up but his words were clear and precise.
It was my first baptism as a missionary, and I know they are going to be strong in the gospel. The parents' goal is to get back to the temple, which just makes me assured of their sincerity.

BUT because of that baptism, we had to consume... 3 dinners. I have not had to eat so much food in my life than I have here... I'm excited for NOT being fed by every member known to man in Australia. And yesterday, a Miracle happened because of the two dinners we had scheduled.

At the last dinner we had, we taught a lesson to a 16 year old named Gabriel. He has been coming to church and wants to be baptized but his parents won't let him. He had his first lesson with us during this time and wanted to be baptized. However, that morning I had prayed for a miracle... and it didn't come from Gabriel, but from a non-member friend of the family we ate with. His name is James Olsen and he had come to Utah to get married to the niece of the wife of the family we ate at. He knew after the first lesson that what we were saying was true and committed to be baptized on June 2! He leaves for Massachusetts the day after as well so I was even more excited. BOSTON BABY!!!! WOO!!

So. Miracles, they happen. Pray everyday and I promise you that your Heavenly Father, OUR Heavenly Father will bless our lives in His own way and time. Have faith and press on.

To make the week better, we had an inactive family come back to church! THE ENTIRE FAMILY. We talked to Paul Sigler, (that's their last name), and he said he was going to file for divorce last Tuesday, but we went over there and invited them out to church in a final desperation to mend the marriage, and Paul confidently said, "We'll see you at church." We were SO SHOCKED but excited because you could see in all their eyes they were serious. Turns out, they all came to church and it's the first time in over 5 years. I felt SO happy. It reminds me of what our Heavenly Father must feel when we stand in holy places, when we do what is right. I don't know if He jumps up and down with joy like Elder Bennett and I did, but the feelings might be similar. Their son Matt--he is 16--told us he wants to get the priesthood and serve a mission and that just added to our excitement.

At the end of this letter... I come to think that Salt Lake City has been a true blessing for me. I have learned and grown so much, but it must come to an end.

I leave for Australia, as I mentioned at the beginning, in about...5 hours 45 minutes for the Land Down unda.

MY BOY SAMUEL ROSS GISH!!!!!! I LOVE YOU MAN. You know that you are never forgotten in my heart. You're my brother and you're a great example to me. I feel awful not mentioning you in the shout out but we are bonded as Missionaries ;) Keep doing work man, I wish you the best of luck.

If you send letters, send them to...

76 Cathies Lane
61 3-9801-5980



-Elder Sargeant

Hello all. Gabe, Elder Sargeant's sister, here. Here are a couple of pictures he attached to his e-mail:

His companion cut his hair a tad too short so they had to buzz it...

I got to speak with Elder Sargeant right before he and the other missionaries boarded their flight to Australia. He is pumped, excited, and doing well! Thank you for your support!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Monday, May 13th

G'day all!
Well, let me begin by saying that yesterday was a truly touching opportunity. I had the privilege of speaking to my wonderful family on Mother's Day. There are few better moments in my short time on my mission than talking to my loving siblings and parents. The Family is truly ordained of God and the more I help others come unto Christ and see the blessings that are brought to their families, the more I love and cherish my own. Always stay close to your family. Always build your homes and lives upon the principles of righteousness, prayer, scripture study, and love and I know that your lives personally as well as in a family context will be blessed. You will feel closer connections with your parents, and more love towards your siblings. In the words of a missionary:
"Will you Love your family more this week, by striving everyday to compliment them on a strength they have?"
Yeah, that's a invitation to a commitment. Now do as this scripture says, and publish peace and salvation to your family and friends.
 "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publish peace, that bringeth good tidings of good, that publish salvation; that sayeth unto Zion; Thy God reigneth!" Isaiah 52:7 compare with Mosiah 15;14-18

As you do so, your personal "Zion" will come closer together in love and unity.

Well, off my soapbox and ONTO THE WEEK!

This week was another tough week for lessons, investigators, and all that such but the blesses that came from the trials were awesome. As Ether 12:6 says, your witness comes after the trial of your faith, meaning you have to go through the bad to know of the good with faith in Christ.

We had 2 seemingly solid investigators fall off their baptismal dates of May 26. I have come to understand more that it doesn't matter how soon a person is baptized, or if they get baptized right after three weeks of teaching them but that it is ALL WHEN THEY ARE READY. I have learned that we as missionaries, called by a prophet of God or not, have the privilege to rely more on the Lord than our own talents.
I remember before coming out on my mission I would LOVE to speak in front of people in a spiritual context. I loved to speak and I knew I was good at it. However, I thought that this talent was from my own self, and not because the Spirit of the Lord was doing all the teaching. That is a lesson we all must learn in order to truly become Teachers of the Word of God. He DOES IT ALL, we are just the voice box. I like to think of it as a drive through: God is the person giving orders of what he wants and expects of us, we as missionaries are the box that God speaks through (or the Prophet and Apostles), and the person taking the orders is us individually. The spirit is the power that makes it work; we are just the vocalists. As we listen to God, he will give you blessings beyond measure. Now, that metaphor is a bit rough but I just made it up right now so cut me some slack ;)

Anyway, we had the unique opportunity to sit at the feet of an Apostle of God by the name of Jeffery R. Holland. He came to our Mission conference and blew our minds with his spirit and words of wisdom.

Of course all he talked about was missionary work. He told us of our sacred duty and calling, that we are called of God to invite ALL to come unto Christ. He talked about his Apostolic ministry and how it takes up almost all of his time, talents, and life but he loves it more than any thing else in the world. He talked to us about how we as missionaries are Apostolic, but we are Apostles with a little "a." That sentence alone humbled us all.

He also, in his usual way, raised his voice as he became more serious. He talked about how this is VERY much real life, and that we are the Universal Symbol of the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter-day Saints.
"You are Not free to damage the image of Missionaries."
The room became very much still and filled with the intensity of reflection. We each knew our duty, our calling, and our job.

It was an amazing experience to say the least. As members of the ONLY true Church, the Restored Church and Gospel (or the way to return to Heavenly Father involving Faith in Christ and his Atonement, repentance, baptism by immersion, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end) we are beacons of its validity and its reality. Remember that as you go throughout your lives. We all have things to learn, things to strengthen and things we ALL bring to the table of God to share with all of His Children that are our brothers and sisters.

This week was a week of trial to teach my companion and I the nature of our calling, the diligence and faith required, and that we are not to rely on our own merits but upon the merits of Jesus Christ. When we come to realize that it is only upon the principles of righteousness that the power of the Priesthood (or authority to act in God's name), we can work in the lives of the people we talk to.

This letter is more preachy than normal so I'll move on to some miracles!
My first baptism is THIS SATURDAY! Chris Johnson is an 11 year old boy who is the oldest son of an inactive family. However, his family is AMAZING and they are coming back to church. They are coming back to activity in the Church because the missionaries before my companion and I were diligent and faithful. Miracles are brought forth by walking and publishing peace to all that receive it. So, Elder Bennett and myself had the opportunity to teach this family, and now they come to church every week and Chris's dad is going to baptize him.

On a more scary note, we have two investigators named Jameil and Alleah, who were on date to be baptized. They did not come to church this week because their 4 month old baby brother fell through the bleachers (6 feet up) and Jameil's double-header baseball game. However, there was no internal or brain damage. Infact, the only injury found on the baby boy was a scratched chin.

I know that Heavenly Father looked out for that poor infant. His life was very much in the hands of divinity, out stretched in love. And I know that that experience opened the eyes of Alleah and Jameil to the reality that there is more out there than just us as human existence ending in 6 feet in the dirt.

We were, however, able to get 5 more potential investigators Saturday and Sunday.
Well, this week was amazing despite the frustration of investigators not progressing as we hoped, but sometimes people need more time than we allow or want to allow. Patience is key, and that is tough when people's agency gets in the way.

I love you all, and I am particularly grateful for mothers and the mothers that are in my life.
Mama Whitney, Mama Gish, and my own Mama, I hope you realize your influence on me in a world where motherhood is diminished. The very nature of your calling as mothers is sacred and divine. You had the ability to make and shape a child's future decisions through YOUR wonderful examples. Just as Alma 56 says, it's because the mothers of the 2000 stripling warriors that they were as faithful and obedient as they were. Stay amazing, and if you were not spoiled out of your minds yesterday... well.... that is unfortunate and your husbands/family should recalculate and make you a big cake or buy you flowers or something :)

Hopefully I'll get my visa THIS WEEK, or next week, I am not sure. We shall see. Until next time, stay true, keep smiling, and love more deeply. Open your heart and judge not those that sin in different ways than you do.

With Love,
Elder Sargeant

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Monday, May 6th

G'day Mates!
Well, still no word on my date for departure to the common wealth, aka Australia, but I should hopefully find out in the next two-four weeks. Patience is something I have had to learn through this experience which is a blessing for sure. It has taught me to focus on where I am, and to blossom everywhere I stand, not just where I could or was originally supposed to be. I know I am here to learn and to grow which is exactly what I am trying to do.
I learned a profound lesson this week; actually I learned two lessons

The first lesson I learned is that we each have our own sins. Everyone sins differently, and it's through the Atonement of Jesus Christ that we can sincerely change. The whole point of this life is to follow the example of Jesus Christ through faith in Him and the Atonement, repenting, being baptized, receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost through the laying on of hands, and enduring to the end. How do we do this? Well, it's through Jesus Christ. Mosiah 4:2 says "And they had viewed themselves in their own carnal state, even less than the dust of the earth. And they all cried aloud with one voice, saying: O have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins, and our hearts may be purified; for we believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who created heaven and earth, and all things; who shall come down among the children of men."
This life is a time to receive clean hands and to purify our hearts which is a job that truly takes a lifetime. I often wake up thankful for the gifts I have been given from the Lord and I know He will help me with the things I struggle with.

Another lesson that I found profound was from our mission president, President Miller. He said: " Each of us has chosen one principle to work on for this and possibly the next transfer.  As you continue to focus on these principles your testimony will grow and your power to become a Preach My Gospel Missionary will increase.  You will be able to testify and call down the powers of heaven to witness the truthfulness of that which you teach.

Throughout your life if you will continue to identify the weakest link in your testimony and strive to strengthen it, you will never have to fear that you will lose your testimony or join the ranks of the inactive.  Rather you will be the center core of the Lord’s church in preparing and ushering in the advent of the Lord.  The Lord has declared: “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).  This means in the end he will conquer Satan and his kingdom.  If you choose to be on the Lord’s side, you will choose to be on the winning team.

 As you continue to focus on strengthening your testimony you will meet the measure of your creation.  You will become a powerful challenging and testifying missionary ( or memeber missionary.)  You will be numbered with the noble and great ones."

Each day, seek to strengthen the weak links in your life and you will NEVER fall away. That is a extremely profound lesson to learn in a world that is constantly tearing down morals and righteousness in every facet of life. Stay strong, hold to the Gospel of Jesus Christ that provides the way to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of all God's Children.

Anyway.. onto the week. 

This week has been a week of more miracles and happiness, but also challenges from which we have grown. The beginning of the week Elder Bennett, my companion, and I were able to find three more FIVE more investigators! YES! Their names are, Dylan and Parker Spraig -Twins, Jameil and Alleah -cousins in the same house, and Leland who is a nine year old GOLDEN CHILD. My goodness. They are all amazing. All of them are at different stages of Spirituality and that is where the challenges have come from. We invited all of them to come to church. At this time we have many investigators and we committed them all to come to church... but only two of them came to church. It was frustrating to have that take place. I know that we still have to figure out the concerns of each of them that will bring them the testimony they need to truly come to repentance. However, the endless blessings that come from going to Church each Sunday are amazing. I love learning about principles of the gospel in a new light. I cannot even begin to explain how much I have learned.

Now, to tell you about the miracles: Dylan and Parker were found through an OYM, or opening your mouth. This is a principle taught and DRILLED INTO OUR HEADS. Talking to everyone is the key to success in finding those elect who are prepared by the Lord to receive our message. Elder Bennett and I were riding our bikes up a street on our way to a lesson when I heard someone talking. I looked around to find that there was a woman sitting on a set of stairs in the back of her home that led to her basement, or something of the like. I had the thought to go and talk to her even though she was so out of the way. It turns out, she is a less active member of the church who has two twins that have been wanting to talk to us. They are the coolest 13 year old kids ever! They love talking to us and learning. We had some concerns but all should (hopefully!) be well for them to get baptized! 

The thoughts we receive are often the Spirit telling us to do something. The next time you have a thought to do something as simple as talk to someone, or bring something extra to a friend's house, or even to put on your seat belt, that these thoughts if listened to can bring many blessings to you as well as those involved. Listen and learn to how the Spirit works through you and cleave to that understanding. It will bring so many blessings to your life, as it has in mine. I am still learning, and am very insignificant but I know that all will be well!

Just a shout out to my wonderful family: GABE, HEATH, EMMA, KARA, KRISTA, BROOKE, BRITTANY, CALEB and their families, CHASE GISH, GAGE GISH, MAMA GISH, PAPA GISH, and my amazing Mother and Step Dad. I miss you all and love you. I get so excited thinking about being able to talk to you on Mother's day! (Hopefully).
Well, life is well. I am happy despite the ups and downs that constantly are part of a mission. There is never a day where the unfortunate things can bring you down enough to outweigh the bad. This work, the purpose of bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of all of God's Children is a daunting task, but a task that everyone can be apart of. I LOVE being a missionary. The Life is amazing and I cannot nor do I want to change this routine. I cannot imagine waking up and not reading my scriptures for an hour, or praying as much as I do. 

Being a Missionary is amazing. Thank you all for your prayers, letters, and messages. 

IF I DO NOT WRITE YOU BACK QUICKLY IT'S BECAUSE I EITHER DO NOT HAVE STAMPS OR NO TIME. Preparation days often jam packed... but I do my best.

Love you all,

Elder Sargeant

Friday, May 3, 2013

Monday April 29, 2013 and pictures!

G'day all!

This week was a week of much learning, many miracles, and many blessings both in disguise and very much apparent. To start out things out the weather has finally picked up here. It has been like 75 degrees out everyday the whole week. We are getting so dang tan I LOVE IT.

Anyway, the beginning of the week was a little bumpy. We got dropped by two investigators, both of whom were on date to be baptized. One was a girl named Alex Hunt who is 14. She kind of seemed to be pushed by her very much anti-Mormon dad to not get baptized but every time we asked her about it she always had the look in her eye that she wants to be baptized. It would bless her so much... it's so essential to get on the path to salvation!
The second was Travis, the drunk guy that talked to us. He dropped because his girlfriend said he couldn't quite drinking or smoking and he'd be a hypocrite  We were devastated... he has so much potential and such a desire to change and he told us himself that he had the ability and desire to quit. But, things happen and our faith was tested.

I have been working on my Faith this week: to develop it, to strengthen it, and to recognize how to do so. This week has seriously been an opportunity with those drops. However the blessings came through our diligence to press on and keep going.

Since we got dropped... we have another set of investigators! One is named Kerry whom we found just talking to everyone we met. Her husband is less active and she is looking for a religion to teach and grow in with her young children ( 3 years old, and 6 months old). She was a fireball ready for the gospel. We have another lesson with her next week and I just know that she will have a date for baptism. She already said she wanted to be. On that note, our investigators Jordan, the 16 year old, and Junior, the Hispanic guy who is married to a less active, all want to be baptized!!!!! SO SICK!!!! I LOVE THE GOSPEL. No lie, I cannot believe how much it has been a blessing to see the hope and faith grow in the eyes of all we talk to. They are filled with the spirit as we are the instrument of Jesus Christ. I am learning so much about how to teach more effectively but the Spirit just takes over everything I do. I honestly do VERY little in the process other than be the voice box. It's amazing.

The work is hastening. Ward Councils are learning to be all about Missionary Work, and a tsunami of missionaries are on their way to Salt Lake City.

All of the Mission Presidents of SLC went and sat with Elder Ballard, Elder Holland, and Elder Nelson. Elder Ballard said that we are winning the war of spreading the gospel but "the inner walls are crumbling." The center stake of Zion needs help and it WILL be strengthened. I LOVE being here during this time of urgency. I know that missionaries are being sent here, with fire in their hearts, ready and willing to serve and find those lost sheep of the fold to bring them back to safety. Everything is line upon line, and precept upon precept, but God's will be done.

----SHOUT OUT TO MY NIECE AND NEPHEW ELLIE AND TATE. I think of you often, I truly do. I miss you little crazy kids, and your drawing Ellie is hanging over my bed. I look at it often as my inspiration to keep working hard and learn all I can before I go to Australia. I was sent here to learn to work through difficult and urgent circumstances, and that picture pushes me on. Thank you, Kara, Chris, and Tate for your letter and your example to me. I am so happy to say I am your Uncle. Miss you all and stay in touch!

----MY BROTHER HEATH. Oh... my... gosh. You not only graduated from BYU, but you got a FULL RIDE TO UNH LAW SCHOOL!?!? Just goes to show the blessings that come from being obedient to the Lord. ... Keep my commandments and ye shall prosper in the land. <--- Nails it. I miss you Heath and Emma and I'm so freaking proud of you. That's straight up Legit. You're going to do amazing there.

Well, here is a poem from my favorite Apostle: Here is that Poem by Elder Holland

"Come to the edge."

"No. We will fall."

Come to the edge!"

"No! We will fall!"

"Come to the edge!"

We went to the edge and He pushed us, and we flew.

Never be afraid to learn. Never be afraid to go beyond what you feel is your limit. Push on, go to the edge of your comfort zone, and break it to pieces. Let yourself be pushed off and I promise if you rely on the Lord and have Faith and put your trust in Him, you will do nothing save it be fly to endless heights. Stay true to the Faith. There is a power in this Restored Gospel that is infinite. It can take you as far as you let it, and beyond if you trust it will. I have seen myself grow tenfold from just teaching people. It's just like D&C 11 says "Yea, cleave unto me with all your heart, that you may assist in bringing to light those things of which has been spoken..." But it goes beyond that. Cleave unto the Truth, Jesus Christ, His way, and follow the commandments and convenants you have with God and I PROMISE YOU with every fiber of my being that you will be blessed. Look at my brother Heath, his entire life has been an example of this, and I know it will happen to all those that accept Christ and do as he says.

Love you all, stay strong, stay true, and keep smiling <--- That's what Mama Whitney told me so it's applicable to everyone.

Mom, I miss you so much. Not in a home sick way but in a way that makes me appreciate and love you endlessly. I cannot wait to see you all once again, but of course the work is my focus. I cannot believe it's been 1 month. That's only 23 more months to learn, grow, and bless the lives of as many people that will listen as possible. I love it.

Gabe- I haven't heard from you in a while. I sure hope "things" are well. ;)

Until next week, cheers.

With much love,

-Elder Sargeant