Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Hey y'all!!

So. Done been transferred to Euless! I'm back in the city again! It's giving my nostalgia whiplash because of my greenie area, Hurst. Good news: I was trained in a city, so I know how to work a city. Bad news: no more country for Gunson. And she misses the cows.

This week was a little hard because, shockingly, Euless isn't Lantana. So the acclimation was a little bumpy. But the 3rd day was awesome. We got stopped by some Tongans that were doing a cook-out fundraiser for scout camp. They gave us a large flat crate box full of their fried bread. It's basically Islander Beignets. So good...

Hey, remember how in the city, there were a ton of stories to tell? Cuz we lived in Crazy Town? Yeah, well, they're starting back up. Thank goodness I was with Sister Morrill during her first anti-attack. She'd never been through one before, so after some expert extractification(is that a word?) we had a testimony meeting where we reaffirmed to each other that, yes, the gospel is true. And nobody can tell you otherwise.

We also learned a valuable lesson in the power of positive thinking and gratitude. Fellow missionary Elder McComb touched on it last week in his email, but I just want to back him up with my own testimony. I take my remarks from the words of my new favorite hymn, "You Can Make The Pathway Bright." (I've been reading too many conference talks. Oh wait, such a thing doesn't exist)

You can make the pathway bright
Fill your soul with Heaven's Light
If there's sunshine in your heart

If there's sunshine in your heart
You can send a shining ray
That will turn the night to day
And the shadows will depart
If there's sunshine in your heart today
Happiness is a choice. President Hinckley said "You can be wise and happy or ignorant and miserable. The choice is yours." And how true that is! Dad, I remember flying home from New York last year and having a conversation about those who decide to victimize themselves and how they're always so miserable. Will relief and happiness ever come if you avoid it so avidly with your attitude? NO! I think of what Joseph Smith said, a man who could have drowned in the deep waters in which he frequently swam. Instead, he had a natural disposition to be happy and I imagine it had something to do with a clear conscience and a thankful heart.

I want to close with some ideas from Invictus. First of all, you are the master of your fate and the captain of your soul. AWAKE, then! Awake yoursoul to happiness that runs rampant! God is good! He has given you life! How could you complain about that?

And second of all... You can thank God for your inconquerable soul because if you thank God, you will have an inconquerable soul. Gratitude is a steadying anchor and an unsinkable buoy.

I am so thankful for that Easter message. No matter how bad Friday is, no matter how dark Saturday is, Sunday will always come. Morning is right behind the night. Rocky roads are no excuses for bad attitudes. Because through Christ, we see the stars at night, reminding us that there is still light.

And the stars at night are so very big and bright here in Texas :)

Well, that's my weekly soapbox! Stay tuned for next week when I try to find the good in gaining weight from all the epic food and the culture where "no thank you" doesn't exist...

Have a blessed day!!
Sister Gunson

Monday, April 14, 2014

Feel AAAALLL the Emotions!!! (Plus: Transfer time!)

Hi y'all!  Here's the new address:

4909 Canyon Trail North #2505
Euless, TX 76040

Also, Hannah's mission has now asked the missionaries to not use the full names of their investigators.  So she has come up with creative substitutions...

Here's her letter:
Well.... I got transfer calls. I'm going to the half-Tongan ward in Euless to baptize nations because everybody in that area works for the airport across the street. Anyone wanna teach me some languages really quick? I'll be with Sister Morrill and the senior comp and we are going to TEAR IT UP. So stay tuned.

As for Lantana... we told Bishop I was being transferred and so he asked me to give the closing prayer. Had John 17 running through my mind as I went up there. I thought about all that had happened, all I had gone through in this area. And all I could think of was "Father, I am thankful for these that Thou hast given me. For they are mine." I had several of the youth/primary--even some adults--say "why are you leaving me?"  Totally choked up... And as we were finishing companionship planning that night and I prayed again, I had to stop for a good bit and dig out the knife in my throat. Ugh, feels.

It's been that kind of week all around. We took Recent Convert Bestie (remember, can't use real names? So we have to go with nicknames...) to a lesson with Taylor Swift's Little Sister. RCB (Recent Convert Bestie) bore such powerful testimony!! She was just in Little Sister's shoes, so she was able to tell her whole conversion story and it was INCREDIBLE. Little Sister was feeling better by the end of the discussion, but to me, the highlight was in RCB's fire. She was lit up like Times Square... I'm so thankful I got to stay long enough to see the change and progression in RCB. I am going to miss her deeply.

Swooshy Hair got baptized on Monday and was confirmed yesterday!! That's a wild story... So, what happened was one of our neighboring areas, Lake Cities 1st, was teaching him because he was one of their member's referrals. And then they looked up his address and realized Swooshy Hair was in Lantana stewardship... so after teaching him for 2 months and extending a baptismal invite... the Elders gave Swooshy Hair to us! We've been able to teach him a couple review lessons, and was baptized 2 weeks after we began teaching him! It was a pleasure to work with the fine LC1st elders-- they did a really good job and we have LOVED the follow-up finishing job! Haha, to celebrate, we took Swooshy Hair to the New Member's Fireside-- which happens monthly-- and is held by President Ames himself! He basically takes us through all 3 lessons, but highlights one particular, sought for and prayed about principle. Last night's was "Come Follow Me," and the sacrifices we make in order to be disciples. Yet, it's really easy to change habits and keep commandments when we love the Savior. Truly and deeply. Then it becomes barely a sacrifice.

All good news asides, we were really struggling with the rest of our gators. All of them-- literally, ALL OF THEM-- hit a wall. A vicious stone wall, formidable in size and dense in strength, that caused me and Sister Christensen great turmoil, and we struggled and labored in the spirit. By the end of the week, we had decided on a simple task: ask them all "what happened" and then bear testimony of the Book of Mormon.

The thing is, no matter how complicated or convoluted your issues and problems are with the church, they fade away as soon as you get confirmation that the Book of Mormon is true. If there is no denying of it's truthfulness -- and by the way, there is none-- then why aren't you coming to church? Don't you know Moroni said that's how we "keep on the right way?" There's no wiggle room for a toe out of line in the years to come. Don't you know that God is aware and ever watchful of you? He spoke to Enos and called Joseph Smith by name. So why won't you pray? He's given us commandments-- not restrictions but the secrets to peace and happiness!! Why aren't you living the Word of Wisdom or the Law of Chastity? KNOW YE NOT THAT YOU WILL AVOID PAIN?!

 "Behold, I say unto you that it is [Christ] that surely shall come to take away the sins of the world; yea He cometh to declare glad tidings of salvation unto His people." (Alma 39:15) so "Awake my soul! No longer droop in sin!!" (2 Nephi 4:27) "Come unto Christ and be perfected in Him... His grace is sufficient for you..." (Mormon 10:32)

So pardon my French, but cut the crap. Pray about this, think it through. If you have the relationship with Heavenly Father that you think you have, why are you so afraid to talk to Him? Do you trust that He'll tell you the right way to go? If I know my God (and, I DO know in whom I have trusted... and continue to trust) then He will answer you simply because you are His. As far as you have separated yourself from His presence and spirit, you cannot disentangle yourself from His love. Good luck getting out of those tentacles of Divine Providence!

The chains are broken, walk out of your shackles.

I have loved and labored and been spent in Lantana and it has been a joy and privilege. I look forward to coming back to this area -- next time I'll be in pants though, so that'll be fun.


Love, Sister Emotions

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Outlast the Devil

This was a pretty roller-coaster week... like, Hollywood Tower of Terror sort in which we drop, halt, drop, halt, rise up, drop all the way and get off the crazy ride.... but mostly the dropping part.

2 things: 1: we must be Physically strong to be Spiritually strong and 2: A lot of life is about outlasting the devil.

  1. I gave up Diet Coke for the rest of my mission. I've gained weight and I've been a little grumpy. But I decided that I need to trust in the arm of God, not the crutch of caffeine. To mock my righteous wending of healthy paths, the Adversary inflicted me with a deathly case of "shlugeshness," a phrase which here means "to be overwhelmingly fatigued." I graduated early-morning seminary and is was small potatoes to the lack of rest I get now... It was a slow week and to top it all off, my eyes would not stay open and my legs would not move!!
  2. Physical trials are easier to manage and pass than the emotional duress we endure in our process of shuffling the mortal coil.... If all I had to whine about today was my break-up with Diet Coke and some apathetic muscles, that'd be one thing. But as a missionary, everything is hiked up to about 1000%. Mostly because of the demon hordes surrounding each companionship. Trust trying to teach the truth, here, but nooooo.... Always opposition (General Conference reference, anyone?)

So most of my week was spent saying "JUST MAKE IT TO CONFERENCE!!" and "WE GOTTA OUTLAST THE DEVIL, SISTER!" And as impossible as it seems, morning rises, Sunday comes and tomorrow happens.

So I really feel like this conference was really something. I know it was something because my finite vessel has to take the rest of this week digesting the Infinite Oil that was dumped from the conference centre. I feel like Heavenly Father was like "here's ALL the material you'll need for the next 6 months!" and now I'm sifting through it. It's a really cool process of revelation. I've gone through my notes several times and I still feel like I'm swimming around in the shallow end of the pool. Can't wait to get the Conference Ensign!!

What I really came away with is the apostles unabashed way that they say "oh, it's hard. And it's gonna get harder! So here's all the ways to be happy, keep to the faith, and buckle up." My whole mission, I've been discovering what it's like to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ. If we really are to cast away our nets and follow Him... we can't drag those nets with us. Hooray for getting off the boat, hooray for walking into the unknown, but for crying out loud, leave the nets too and don't look back! Don't go back to the same ol', don't return to your comfortable normalcy.

If we are the kind of disciples we say we are, then buckling up for the bumpy ride into the 2nd coming (second General Conference reference, anyone?) shouldn't make us fearful. If we know in whom we have trusted (2 Nephi 4:27) then how can we NOT go on in so great a cause?

"Gird up your loins, fresh courage take, our God will never us forsake!!"

 I challenge everyone who reads this sentence to share a General Conference talk with someone they love. It doesn't have to be a non-member, just someone who needs a little bolstering.

And then email me back and hold yourself accountable to sharing that talk because FOLLOW-UP (3rd General Conference reference.....)

We are all such imperfect people. But we can outlast the devil, so we're made of something pretty strong and pretty tough.

Love, Sister Gunson

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Font

Greetings! This letter is being written by, quite possibly, the most exhausted sister missionary on this or any other world! And it's really good thing we have the Standard of Truth to inform us all that this work will go forth boldly, nobly and independent because I question a particular vessel in Lantana sometimes.... ANyways.

I've made mention in the past of all that can happen in a week, in conjunction with my inability to express all of it in one letter. This letter will be no different. We'll see how much I can cover....

So, for the past month, we've been working with 3 generations: Marta (grandma), Teresa (mom) and Vanessa (daughter). These 3 gators have been living with one of my favorite Less-Actives for a while and just last week, we committed them all to baptism. Well... The Adversary just can't have that happen.

Without delving into too much personal detail, these 3 courageous women, so young in the faith, are moving. Sister Christensen and I have spent the past little bit denying it. It's really hard to see your friends move. Especially when they don't have the Holy Ghost. It's so sad, they were all so.. motivated for baptism. They were aware of the lifestyle changes, they were conscious of this decision and what it meant... and now we have to say good bye. They were supposed to move this weekend, but we got a text last night at 11pm that said they were moving today. Also, that they needed help. But since they live way out of our area, we can't do what they needed. We spent our morning trying to coordinate and calm down the frantic LA.

I just wasn't trained for this.

So we had to pass it on to those who were responsible. And that is a very difficult thing for me to just let go of things. Especially when I love someone. I've spent my week praying for the Holy Ghost to follow them and for Heavenly Father to keep an eye on them since I can't. It's really hard to do that, but thank-dang-goodness for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and for faith. I can safely say that my mustardseed is on it's way to the tree of life. It's not a perfect knowledge... but where would the fun be in perfect knowledge??

2 weeks ago, we picked up a gator from our neighboring area. The missionaries over there had been teaching Nick Jenkins for about 2 months and then realized he lived in our area... right as they committed him to baptism. He's SUCH a stellar kid! He's 17, running for mayor this fall, and getting baptized! He's been taking the transition from wards really well, and we've gotten attached to him already (okay, that's not hard for me to attach). His grandma has started coming to church too! She's not interested, but she supports Nick's baptism as if she was an age-old member and has signed up to feed us without prompting... so you tell me.

Well... our weeks are jam-packed and my head is about to explode. It's times like this where, amidst all of the insanity, I have a clear view of the Lord's hand. You gotta remember that Heaven's a lot closer than you think.

We were listening to Consider the Lillies in the car today... I really like that song. God knows the movement of every sparrow-- of course He knows who I am and what I'm going through! He sees every pain and every peak. And that's what allows me to waste and weary myself in this great and marvelous latter day work.

And no matter what! The truth of God will, in fact, go forth boldly, nobly and independent of its tiring vessel. Thank goodness for Misisonary Christmas (General Conference).

I love you all so much! I love you with the Savior's love!!
-Sister Gunson

A Lot Can Happen

Okay, well, this week was crazy.  I discovered I am a very "Adventure is out there!" sort of missionary. I'm also that kind of missionary that REALLY needs to pay attention to the "it's not requisite that you should run faster than you have strength".

First of all, our president has said that we are now including active family lessons in our key indicators. So we took that and ran with it. Not only did we teach a lot this week, but next week, we have a ton of appointments lined up! And then we taught seminary twice and did some guest appearances in Primary. Primary and Seminary. Pure molten AWESOME.

This week was also a pretty sweet miracle week. For Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, our schedules were JAMMED with appointments and exchanges. It was incredible!! Tuesday, we challenged Marta and her daughter, Teresa to baptism and they both accepted! it was such a powerful lesson that Sister Christensen and I had to sit in the car and recover for a second afterwards. The Plan of Salvation means so much to me... and teaching 3 generations at the same time has brought it all into perspective somehow... It's really cool! One of the members we brought on an exchange to teach them is super concerned that they're not going to be ready by April 19th.... It's a little deflating to hear someone not be quite as excited as you are, especially when we're all working towards the same thing. Especially over baptism. And yes, we recognize that they have a long road to walk, but they're not walking it alone. We see them almost every day. If they come to church and read their scriptures and follow the commitments we give them... they can be ready. Even if they're not, that shouldn't discourage us from setting goals. We must always be progressing, but there's a handful of people who don't know how to progress. That's why we use a baptismal date: perspective. So that they know where they're going and they can get there a little faster than just aimlessly footling about in the mists of darkness, praying that maybe, just maybe, one of the specs of mist will make sense and give them direction.  How productive is that?


Like I was saying before, we had a crazy week. And so Friday afternoon, after lunch, I opened up to my companion.   (See, all week I've grown more and more wired and anxious...  even my Friday morning studies were frantic and crazy too! I do this thing where I over-plan my studies and that's "supposed" to help keep me focused, but that day, I was like "I HAVE TO FINISH 2 NEPHI RIGHT NOW SO I CAN STUDY THAT ONE ELDER HOLLAND TALK AND GET INTO PMG!!! RIGHT NOOOOWWWWW" And that's not very conducive to the Spirit, now is it?)  So I told Sister Christensen that all I wanted to do was look at pictures of Christ. I thought "maybe if we go to the church, we can walk around and look at those pictures..." but I was torn because I had "the best thing for missionaries is work" going through my head... But for the sake of my effectiveness as a missionary, I needed to stop for just a second. But the thought of napping made me more anxious... so what could I do? (wow, that's a lot of "but"s--are you visualizing the anxiety yet?)

We live with members. And sometimes, members have artwork... sometimes they have the "Reflections of Christ" book by Mark Mabry. As I was venting outloud, I found it. Everything in me stopped and I said "SIster, I'm taking 15 minutes to look at this book."  Within seconds of opening the book, I felt warm comfort and relief wash over me. It was like when you're crying and Mom totally engulfs you in a hug after a rotten day. I curled up on a rocking chair and was sucked into these beautiful pictures... I'm telling ya, I hope I get to meet Mark Mabry one day and tell him "sir, you saved me that day. You and the Man you depicted."

And afterwards, I thought "how could Jesus Christ NOT be the promised Messiah? If simply looking at an artist's depiction of what He did could fill me with such... serenity, such love... It's just not possible unless Jesus was who He really said He was."

All y'all, The Savior loves us so much. No matter what we do. He has perfect love and although He will rebuke us when we're being stupid (I doubt He enjoys that...),  He LOVES to comfort us. If it weren't for the whole "walk by faith" thing we're supposed to do in life, I would stagger to guess that Christ would LOVE to walk and talk with each of us as He did with His disciples on the road to Emmaus. Personally. Physically. and Lovingly. So many times in my life, I've felt like the Savior was right next to me. I realized this week that I miss Him. I haven't seen y'all in a long time, but I haven't seen Him in a much longer time. It's hard to be away from your Brother for so long.

As hard as this week was, it was so full of tender mercies and crazy random happenstances. We saw a woman painting a fence, got out and, without knowing her name, asked if we could help. We'll probably get to help her at least once a week with her house-fixing projects for a while. And yesterday.... long story short, we might be having a baptism on Saturday. If we do, I'll tell you about it next week.

Because a lot happens in a week. Too much, almost. We get up VERY early in the morning for this kind of stuff.

Have a great week!!
Love, Sister Gunson