Monday, December 28, 2009

Miracles truly do happen

It was so nice to talk to all of you on Christmas. All of you sound
like you are growing up, especially Justin. That’s awesome that he is
doing Violin now. Did he just barely start playing? And I haven’t seen
the new Ensign yet. We will get those at transfer meeting (if we’re
there) on January 7. Is Erik excited to turn 16 and be able to drive?
I know I was. Also I would like to thank everyone that sent me
something this Christmas season. I loved everything. Oh and also just
FYI, I did receive my birthday package and the card from Brooke
and Tim.
Thanks for the E-card. It was funny.

This last week was a good week. We got lots of food and a couple gifts
from the members of the ward. Our fridge is stuffed with leftovers. It
was a fun Christmas. The best part of Christmas day was talking to all
of you and then the baptismal interview we had with DesireƩ. She
passed, of course. She is an awesome person. He son is excited to be
baptized in November when he is eight. We have only been teaching her
for a few weeks. But her friend, Sister Anderson, has been working on
her for years. Then the Lord helped her learn so much more in just a
few weeks. Miracles truly do happen.

On Tuesday we had Christmas Conference with the whole mission. We
started off at the temple and talked for a bit with all our mission
buddies. Then once they opened the temple gates we went inside
and took
a mission picture in front of the temple. After that we went
to the
nearest chapel and had an hour or so of spiritual and business type
things. President talked about how transfers work. He prays about
everything that goes on with transfers. He puts a lot of thought and
prayer into it. Then the week before transfers the zone leaders talk
with all the district leaders and ask them about their districts,
changes needed/wanted, and then the zone leaders talk to President about
their zones. Then president and the AP's figure out where everyone is
going. After that we had some testimonies from five or six
missionaries, Sister Cutler, and then one of President's counselors.
Then we ate. It was fajitas and it was really good. Then we had the
talent show. It was all musical talents. Some were funny and some were
more on the serious side. Two sisters, Sister Kleisler and Johnson,
sung "President Cutler is coming to town." It was pretty funny. Then
San Antonio West zone sang Feliz Navidad and used spoons as their
instruments. It was all good. Lots of talent. After the talent show
we watched Elf. It was really funny since none of us have seen a funny
movie since we were home. After that we picked up our mail and
presents. We got a TSAM paper weight that looks like its carved out of
a rock. Then we went back home.

Well I hope you all have a happy new year! Stay close to the Lord and
keep working hard. Remember the Alamo ;)

Con Amor,
Elder Gray

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Desiree and Logan

I forgot that you guys were in California for the holidays. That is so
fun. That is also fun that you got to meet little Kingsley. If you
can, send me a pic of her. If not, no big. It sounds pretty nice down
there. Its nice here too, most days. It has gotten below freezing a
couple times during the night but its usually between 50 and 70 during
the days.

This week was really productive. We have one lady named Desiree that is
scheduled to be baptized on Sunday. We are so excited. She has been
coming to church off and on for the last five years. It has been really
sporadic until now though. She has come almost every week for the last
couple of months. She is a lot of fun. She has a little seven year old
boy and she is expecting twins in June or July. Her little boy, Logan,
is really smart. He always tells her what he learned in primary and it
helps her a lot. That is one awesome thing that is going on. Then
yesterday we got called into the bishop's office after church. He was
sitting there with a guy named Julien. Julien is the boyfriend of a
young lady in the ward. He had approached the bishop and told him that
he wanted to be baptized. So now we are going to start teaching him
too. He has been coming to church for a long time and knows a lot about
it. The only problem is that he is 17, so he needs permission from his
parents to be baptized. We found a couple other good potentials this
week. A lot of people are leaving for the holidays so we have our work
cut out for us when January rolls around.

Tomorrow we have Mission Conference. I am excited to see a bunch of
faces that I haven't seen for a while. I hear we do a lot of fun stuff
at Christmas conference.

I am in Ether 12 in the Book of Mormon. That is a really awesome
chapter. The whole thing is about faith. My favorite verse is 27
because I really have seen the Lord strengthen my weaknesses all through
out my life. One of the members we talked to this week said something
that I really agree with. He basically said that you can be the best at
anything if you do two things: Have a love for whatever you are pursuing
and then work as hard as you can and give everything to achieve it.
That is so true. I know that I have touched on this subject a lot but I
truly believe it with all of my heart.

I look forward to calling you all on Christmas. Have the best holiday
season and remember our Lord and savior during this time.

Elder Gray

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

We taught a really neat family the other day

How is everyone? Excited for Christmas? I know I am. This last week
went well. We had exchanges with our district leader, a ward Christmas
party, and all the other fun stuff that we usually do. We also did
tri-zone dodge ball last p-day. Its always fun to see all the
missionaries in the area (all the Austin zones) and talk. Elder
Finlayson, my last companion, is now a zone leader up in Roundrock. He
is a really good missionary. One of the hardest workers that I have
seen out here.

On Tuesday we had exchanges. Elder Maka came with me and Elder Best
went with his companion in Bastrop. It seemed like all my weaknesses
were exposed that day. We had a lot of fun though. But in the end it
was better for me. Elder Maka is a really straight-forward person. He
told me the things that I need to work on and the things I did well. I
am really grateful for him. He really helps us out.

For the Christmas party Elder Best and I got to talk for a couple
minutes about Christmas. It went well. I talked about charity and the
story about the Christmas orange. There was a good number of people
there. There were a couple of less active members and a couple of part
member families there.

We taught a really neat family the other day. Their names are Alex and
Lindsey. The husband is from Columbia and the wife is from here in
Texas. He has not been to church since he was fifteen and living down
in Columbia. She is not a member yet but they both have really awesome
morals. Their big focus is always helping people. They are both really
smart too. They are reading from the Book of Mormon and we are going to
talk to them again tonight. I am really excited. There is a lot of
potential in those two.

Tell Grandma and Grandpa that I did receive their dvd. I am not sure if
we will be able to watch it but I will ask. I really like those
Christmas cd's, especially the Spanish one. I also love the caramels.
Thanks! I'm excited to open all the rest. Have the best week and
remember the true meaning of Christmas. Go out of your way to help
somebody and make their day better. Even something small can make a big
difference. I love you all.

Elder Gray

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Keep the Faith

This last week has gone pretty good. We met someone at church that
isn't a member and somehow slipped under the radar. Anyways we are
trying to get in contact with her friend so we can teach her and see if
she wants to get baptized. We are excited for her.

The weather here has been cold. Last week one day it got down to 32
degrees while we were out and then into the mid 20's during the night.
It snowed for just a couple minutes earlier that day but nothing stuck
because it was just a little to warm. Now the weather is back up to the
50's so its nice again.

We also helped a family move this week. The husband is not a member but
the wife is. He will be baptized some day. He said some of his best
friends have been missionaries. There were some really awesome
missionaries a year or two back that just really showed their love for
him. I think just pride is what is getting in the way right now. He
wants to stay Catholic. The move wasn't organized very well so it took
forever. Nevertheless they were really grateful for our help since
everyone else there was older and not able to work as hard as us.

This area has been a little hard for me and my companion. It has been a
little harder to get people to listen to the message here. But we keep
trying the best we can and the Lord has shown his tender mercies at the
times when we really needed them. Our district leader is really
awesome. His name is Elder Maka and he is from Meridian, Idaho. He is
a big Polynesian guy with an even bigger heart. He told me just to keep
trying as hard as I can. The Lord doesn't expect me to be perfect, he
expects the best that I can do.

That's so crazy that Ton ton is back from his mission already. It
reminds me of how long I've already been out. Crazy! Mom,
your talk sounded great and I really enjoyed it. I'm glad to hear
that Erik is doing well. Great attitude. Personally I think attitude
plays a huge role in our health. Thanks for letting me know whats
going on. I will make sure and keep him and all yall in my prayers.
I love you all more than words can express. I know that the work
we are doing out here is truly the most important work.
Keep the Faith.

Elder Gray

Thanks for the reliv. I got it on Saturday. Oh and one little clear-up
on missionary lingo haha. My trainer is just the missionary that is
with me my first and second transfer. So all Elder Best is is just my
senior companion. lol He said he is more like my guardian just a second
ago. haha Anyways, I look forward to receiving the package from all of
you. Oh and one random question. What ward is our cousin in that lives
in San Antonio? love you

Monday, November 30, 2009

Five Thanksgiving Dinners

So first of all I would like to thank you for the package I received the
other week. I forgot to thank you last week. We have enjoyed the apple
cider and I really enjoyed that shirt and pillowcase Erik. Thanks a
bunch. That kind of looked like my or your profile. Is it on of us?
(Erik's project in Graphic Design class... screen printing of a runner)
Thanks for the pictures too. All you younger ones have changed a lot.
Justin seems taller. Erik and Ashley have changed some too. I’m afraid
Erik will probably be able to beat me up when I get home. I better
start doing more push ups :)

This Thanksgiving was a lot of fun. We had five Thanksgiving dinners in
three days (three of them were onThanksgiving day). I was so stuffed.
Our main dinner on Thanksgiving was at the Jensen apartment. They
both went to George Wythe in Cedar so it was kind of cool to talk to them.
They have a couple kids and they invited friends with kids over so it was
crazy the whole time.

This week I have been reading in Alma. The missionary stories in there
are really neat. All the Lamanites converting to Christ, burying their
weapons; I like it all. Everything in there shows how much zeal to keep
the commandments, they had. Every time I read something in the BOM,
even if I’ve read it before, a new thing is brought to light. It’s
awesome. Gordon B. Hinckley once said that he got more out of the Book
of Mormon the second hundred times he read it. Wow! Remember to make
the Book of Mormon a part of every day.

Mi espanol esta mejorando. Tambien mi testimonio en todas las cosas del
evangelio esta mas grande que antes de mi mision. Me pongo en practica
las cosas que me ensenaron. Gracias por sus amor y devocion y todo.
Estoy agradecido por todos mis bendiciones. Se que esta iglesia es la
unica iglesia verdadera. Os Amo y recordad seguir a Cristo.

Here's the Spanish to English translator:
(My Spanish is improving. Also my testimony in all the things of the

gospel is greater than before my mission. I put myself in practices
the things that they embosomed to me. Thanks for its love and devotion
and everything. I am thankful for all blessings. That this church
is the only true church. I love to you and you remember to follow

Con Amor, (With love)
Elder Gray

Monday, November 23, 2009

Tell the extended family this weekend that I said hi.

So I know you were expecting an email from me tomorrow and honestly I
thought it was going be tomorrow. But it turns out that because of
Thanksgiving, transfers this week are on Tuesday instead of Thursday.
Anyways, Elder Best and I are staying here in Buda for another transfer.
We are excited to keep the work going here. The members are still
awesome. They keep giving us referrals. Not all the referrals want to
learn but at least the people of the ward are trying to help.

We went to a great fireside last night. It was put on by the High
Priests group in our ward. The focus was on missionary work. They had
a couple members share their conversion stories. They all had great
stories but one member, Brother Ragu, had a real awesome and unique
story. He is from Malaysia. He had a really hard life. He worked on a
plantation when he was young and didn’t have any parents to look up to
so he had to just watch people and learn from them. He couldn’t afford
to eat very well so coconuts were a big staple in his diet. Through
some good fortune he got to go to a technical school in his later
teenage years and ended up working for an electronics company. He
worked hard at that job and sometime around then was when the church
came into his life. His wife was a staunch catholic (her dad is a
priest and her aunt a nun). His background was mixed with Catholicism,
Hinduism, and some Chinese customs. One interesting thing he said about
Hinduism is that a lot of the things they do correspond with the Mosaic
Law. Especially with the way they did sacrifices in their temples. He
thinks that Hindus are one of the lost tribes of Israel. So anyways he
was on a business trip on the island of Oahu, Hawaii and they were
driving around and saw the Temple. He really wanted to go in the big
white building so he went in by himself (he was with two Muslims that
did not want to go inside). He signed the guest book and then two weeks
later, back in Malaysia, some missionaries stopped by his house. He
usually didn’t let missionaries in past the gate but he let them in
because he felt that he needed to hear the message. Eventually his
family was baptized. Then a couple years later some extended family was
baptized. There was one family member that was 104 years old that got
baptized. Through the next couple of years his job was getting too
dangerous because some people were out to kill him. He got offered a
job here and accepted. He is one of the strongest members of the ward.
He borrowed the PMG dvds from us and is just loving them. He is always
a missionary. He is a really awesome person with an awesome testimony.

Here is a story I heard the other week in church:
There was a man getting his hair cut at the barbers. Eventually the
conversation turned towards God and the barber stated, “I don’t believe
in God because there is a lot of suffering in the world. Children
dying. Murders. Horrible things. Why would God allow such a thing to
happen?” The man getting his haircut pondered the comment for a moment
and then said very simply, “I don’t believe in barbers. See that
homeless man over there? He has hair halfway down his back and his
beard isn’t trimmed. Why would a barber allow that to happen?”
Baffled, the barber exclaimed, “That is ridiculous! I am a barber.
They have to come to me if they want a haircut.” And that is how God
works too. We have to come to him for help.

I love you all. Have a great thanksgiving and break from school. Tell
the extended family this weekend that I said hi. Stay close to the

Elder Gray

Monday, November 16, 2009

Howdy yall

How is everyone? I am doing really great this week. The area is
getting more and more productive as we keep working hard. It has been
fairly warm lately except this morning we walked outside and it was
about 50 degrees instead of 60-70. I’m sure you guys would love for it
to get up to 50 right now but for me, its cold.

Yesterday we passed a list around the ward to see when people could
generally come out and help us teach. We got a pretty good response.
We have about 18 names on that list right now and it will continue to
grow as we ask more people about their schedules. When we passed it
around to the YW I think they forgot that it was just for the adult
leaders. A couple of the girls signed up. It was funny and great that
they were willing to help but we can’t really bring young women with us.
We had a good laugh about that.

In our last District Meeting we talked about doubling our faith and
being bold. Some of the ways we came up with to double faith are: Read
and Listen to God’s words, base our faith on correct doctrine, repent
continually, have a positive attitude, pray with fervor, and a couple of
other things. We also practiced some door approaches. We were supposed
to be super overbearing in our role plays. It was funny but it really
helped me realize how bold I could be without being overbearing. The
last couple of days I have been trying harder to be bold and it has
worked well. One lady we talked to last night had a couple of
misunderstandings about our church but we were bold and persistent.
When we left she made a comment about how we really were more Christian
than she originally thought.

We got to help vaccinate sheep and goats again on Saturday. It was
just an oral vaccination so there weren’t any needles involved. Thank
goodness! It was a lot of fun especially since this time I got to
wrestle em and shove the syringe in their mouths. There was one that I
did that was just a little heavier than me. Lauren, the lady that owns
the animals, calls that one and two others “the linebackers.” He
struggled a bit and I ended up getting pulled to the other end of the
pen a time or two. But eventually I muscled his head up and gave him
his vaccination. The rest weren’t quite as strong as him so it wasn’t
too bad.

That is way awesome that there some more convert baptisms going on in
the ward. Good job and keep up the good work and remember how great of
a tool Preach My Gospel is. Thanks for that scripture in DC 18:10,
15-16. That is a really great scripture. Ashley you had a question
about being busy and stuff. Remember when things get difficult, get
down on your knees and pray. I have a big testimony on the power of
prayer. Sometimes we get so busy and it gets stressful. I also have a
big testimony in planning. When I plan out all the things I need to do,
I am a lot less worried because I know that everything will get done.
Then in your prayers let your Heavenly Father know all the things that
you need help with and always express gratitude. In the end, keep doing
the basic things that we are all taught to do (scriptures, tithing,
prayer, etc…). I promise that if you do these things that it will help
a lot. I know that our Heavenly Father loves us and wants whats best
for us. I hope you all have a great week. Keep up the good work and
keep the faith.

Elder Gray

Monday, November 9, 2009

Focusing on the task at hand


Things are going great down here in the great state of Texas. It rained
yesterday and that was nice. Lately it has been in the 70’s when its
sunny. Elder Best and I had interviews with President Cutler this last
week. They went very well. I asked him for some pointers on working
more with the members of the ward. He said a couple things I knew
already and some other good things that I hadn’t thought about yet. I
really like talking to him. Just talking with him seems to help bring
the spirit stronger.

We had a pretty interesting guy this week. He said he was against any
religion that started in the Middle East (namely Judaism, Christianity,
and Islam). He said he is going to shoot down any angels coming from
heaven with his Winchester. That whole night we met some pretty
interesting people.

We had a really good zone meeting this week. Zone meetings and zone
conferences are two different things. Zone meeting is just a meeting
with the missionaries in the zone. Zone conference is when a couple
zones get together and are instructed by the president, ap’s, and
occasionally a 70 or someone else. Honestly I can’t remember much of
what we talked about but it really motivated me to do my best and to
increase my faith more. One of our zone leaders, Elder Santa Cruz, said
something that really hit me: “Are we doing what we are doing for
ourselves or the Lord.” If we remember who we are here to help then
doing the right things all the time becomes that much easier.

Thanks for the letters/emails/candy/gummy hands ;) It’s always nice to
hear news from home and to get advice from you all. I really liked that
story about the three cowboys. It’s like being out here in the mission
field. Focusing on the task at hand is the best way to do it. If I
feel homesick or bored it won’t help the situation at all. It would
just make it worse. And don’t worry; I am not the type to get homesick.
I am doing great :) Keep the faith and I love you all.

Elder Gray

Monday, November 2, 2009

More important is what you felt, not so much what you heard

Howdy yall,
So I guess I will start with business first so I don’t forget. I did
receive that Reliv package on Tuesday last week. This apartment complex
is great with packages so you won't need to worry about sending anything
here. I really appreciate it. Thanks! I received those 3 shirts that
you sent me a couple months ago. Thanks for those. I received that
package last week. That was a great package. I love all the candy
especially the big gummy hand  I haven’t ever seen one of those
before. And don’t worry about sending the audio BOM stuff. It’s more
fun to read than listen to anyways. That’s pretty sweet about the new
bishopric. I don’t know most of them too well but it will be fun to get
to know them later on. I will miss having Bishop Allred though. He is
a really nice guy that loves everyone and tries to help them the best he
can. He is an awesome, humble guy. The Bishop here in Buda ward is
pretty neat too. He loves to fish and works for the Texas Wildlife
Magazine. He is really humble too. We have a great ward here. They
are ready to help in any way they can. I am excited for the future

On Tuesday we had the opportunity to hear from Elder Snow of the quorum
of the 70 at our zone meeting. We had 3½ zones there so it was pretty
big. He started off by having his wife share her testimony. He then
got up and told us not to take very many notes because we aren’t going
to go and read them later on. But he did tell us to take notes on what
the spirit prompted us to write. Then we basically had a big discussion
for the next three hours. I felt the spirit very strong the whole time.
We talked about the spirit and its importance. Here are some things
that I took from it:
-More important is what you felt, not so much what you heard.
-Revelation is remembering.
-If we don’t make that connection with the Holy Ghost, we can’t help
others connect.
-We must have the spirit of revelation at all times and in all things;
if we don’t, we can’t function the way God wants us to.
-It doesn’t matter whether it’s the Holy Ghost speaking directly to us
or if it’s our own thoughts. If we are living the way we are supposed
to, there shouldn’t be a difference.
-Am I helping someone because I’m supposed to or because I really care
about that person and their welfare?
-We are bringing people unto Christ, not into the church. Therefore we
need to help everyone we can even if they are already a member. The way
we can help them is to help them feel the spirit. We can do that by
inviting them into our homes, sharing our testimonies, and many other
ways. When they feel the spirit, it will prompt them to act.

It was really awesome. I am so glad I was able to participate in that

We are teaching a couple people right now. LaTosha is pretty awesome.
She accepted the Word of Wisdom and really wants to change. We are
working with the 14 year old teenager still. Not much new with her.
Other than those two we are doing a lot of finding with moderate
success. There are a lot of potentials in the area book that we have
started to visit. So far not too much success with that part but we'll
keep pushin along. The work with the ward is getting better too. There
have been some good missionaries and some bad ones in the past so right
now it’s a matter of gaining their trust. Elder Best is like me in some
ways. He doesn’t like to argue (for the most part) so that is nice when
we have difficult people. I still love it here. It has been in the
60’s and 70’s here. I am getting too acclimatized to Texas because that
felt a little chilly to me. I am going to die when I come home in the
dead of winter. Maybe I’ll just stand in front of the freezer my last
month during studies ;) That’s cool that it snowed there. I miss snow.

Elder Best and I got permission to go to our ward trunk or treat
activity last Wednesday. We dressed up as missionaries :) We couldn’t
pass out candy so we passed out pass-along cards. It was lots of fun.

Have fun and stay close to the Lord. I love you all more than I can

Elder Gray

Monday, October 26, 2009

Awesome Potentials

So not too much to report on this week. We did a lot of finding and we
have a couple of awesome potentials. One has had the missionary
before so she has some great potential. She is in her early
and her husband is in Afghanistan right now. She went out
of town for a
week or two but we'll continue to teach her when she
is back. We are
also working with a part member family. The mom
and dad are recent
converts. They were baptized a couple months
ago. The daughter that is
fourteen is the only one that isn't baptized
yet. She really likes
going to YW classes and I know that it is just a
matter of time before
she is baptized.

It is nice having an *English called* companion. Now I can't turn to
anyone when I am speaking Spanish. It has already helped my
improve. We don't run into too many Spanish speakers
though. Maybe a
couple a day at the most.

Good job at state Ashley. That is awesome that the boys did so well
too. Tell them I said good job. Your testimony about priesthood
blessings is really awesome too. I know that they really do help if we
have faith that they will.

Sorry my letter is so short this week. I'm sure I will have more to
report on in the future. Thanks for all the updates about everyone and
everything. Oh and thanks for keeping my address and things updated
other people. Os Amo. Keep the faith!

Elder Gray

Monday, October 19, 2009

If pigs could fly

So I got transfered back up to the Austin area. I really love it up
here in Austin. The area is called Buda and it is in the Kyle zone.
This zone basically consists of the area between Austin and San Antonio.
We cover just a small sliver of south Austin and then we have a couple
of small country towns. Buda is where most of the members live. It is
a small town with a couple thousand people. The members are great.
They are very missionary minded. The members haven't been utilized as
much as they could have been in the last couple of months so it is going
to be awesome. My companion is Elder Best. He is from Bountiful and
has been out for about 16 months. I really enjoy him. Most of my
companions before liked being in control (which isn't bad most of the
time) and he isn't like that at all. It is very equal with him. He is
a great missionary. We are going to do very well together the next
couple of months. Also he is my first companion that is shorter than
me, only by a couple inches though.

Kinda a crazy name for a street. Also, our church is on a road called
Convict Hill. But don't worry. Despite the crazy road names this is
the nicest area I've been in so far. Lots of safe people. We live in a
really nice complex on the southern edge of Austin. It has a little of
great things. There are things that we can't do like the hot tubs and
pools but they have a media center (thats where I'm emailing from).
They also have two nice gyms here in the complex. I have only been to
the smaller one but it still has almost everything I need. This last
spring the church came out with a statement that said that we, as
missionaries, can't work out in public gyms. So some elders were kinda
bummed out about that. But president said that we can work out in our
complex's gyms since they are private gyms.

The work is going a little slow here right now but it will pick up very
soon. There is a lot of potential for this area. I love you all and
thanks for your support. Watch out for them swine ;)

Elder Gray

P.S. my area is mostly just english and my companion is called english
speaking. Good luck at state and good job at region! Good luck against
CV Erik. Let them know their place ;) haha jk but seriously. Oh and
also that package is nowhere to be found. If it isn't too much hassle
do you think you could send some more Reliv? I'm so sorry that last one
came up missing. I feel bad. Thanks for everything.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Wow another week gone by. Time flies. So as previously stated, I am
going to be transferred. Transfers are on Thursday. I am not sure
where I am going. But next Monday I will give you my new address. I
have really loved this area. The members are great and there have been
a lot of great missionaries here in the past so the members love us.
It’s sad to leave some of the people but it’s all good. All the
converts that were baptized while I’ve been here are still going strong.
They all have goals to go to the temple with their spouses. It’s really
awesome to watch them grow; and it’s not just the recent converts that
are growing. All their spouses are really progressing too. The Meiers
continue to be awesome and funny. They are both really smart. The
Williams are doing really well too. I believe Sister Williams is about
half way through her pregnancy. They have a fun little daughter named
Aniya. She is four. Her and their little Jack Russell/Chihuahua mix
are always teasing each other. The Noll family is also doing great.
They have grown by leaps and bounds and continue to do so. Brother Noll
gave a really great testimony in sacrament meeting last Sunday. Roger
is also doing very well. Since he lives in a different ward we don’t
talk to him much anymore but Brother Hack gives us occasional updates.
We have been going through a lot of people. There are some with some
great potential right now. As I get updates from Elder Finlayson in the
future I will update you.

One thing that I love about going to a new area and getting a new
companion is that you get to start over. You can basically be the
person that you want to be and they won’t know the difference. Fun

Elder Finlayson is receiving a brand new missionary this next transfer.
This will be his second trainee. He is a very structured missionary so
the missionaries he trains will have great habits enforced to start
their missions. I’ m excited for him. He is excited and nervous.

I’m glad that the missionary work in the ward is going strong. Keep it
up. Keep the members involved as much as possible. I’m glad that you
have been able to take part in missionary work. It truly is awesome to
help build up the Kingdom of God here on the earth. Tell Ashley good
luck at region and state and tell Erik and Justin to keep working hard
and good luck in all that they do. Tell Tim good job and to keep
working hard. Same with Dad. I am proud of you all no matter what.
Keep working hard in what you love to do and what we need to do.

So my apartment……. I’ll record a little walk through on my camera and
then you can see it the next time I send a card home. I’m not sure if
it does sound or not so let me know. Basically it is on the second
floor; it has a bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, walk in closet and living
room. We have a couple of couches and chairs and a table. Our
neighbors are all very interesting. We have a recent convert to the
church that just moved in next door a couple of weeks ago. We have a
dysfunctional family that is always yelling at each other close by (it’s
very sad). Sadly a lot of our neighbors struggle to make a living or
they don’t even try to make a living. We do ride our bikes still
Thursday through Saturday. Lately we have been biking to an area that
is about three or four miles away. The members love to feed us for
dinner. Last night we had tamales and this really good drink made out
of some flower. We usually get about half and half as far as English
and Spanish members. They always feed us so much so I usually don’t eat
a whole lot during the day. We started that exercise program last week.
Thanks for sending it. It is a lot easier to work out when I know what
I am going to do. It has been a real good workout for my legs.

Well my time is spent. I hope I answered all your questions. Love you

Con Amor,
Elder Gray

P.S. A little bit of missionary slang:
Boy or Hijo: Trainee or greenie
Pops or dad: Trainer
Grandpa: your trainer’s trainer
Transfer: the six week period between transfer meetings or the transfer
meeting itself. We as missionaries usually measure time in transfers
instead of months.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

75 degrees and slightly foggy

How is everyone doing? I really enjoyed conference this weekend. I
heard so many things I needed to hear too. Elder Bednar with expressing
love and showing it, and bearing testimony and living it. Elder
Andersen and repentance. Elder Ballard in the Priesthood session with
his talk on how to be a better son/father. Elder Uchtdorf on learning.
One thing that I really liked that he said was “Winter will give its way
to spring.” President Monson, Eyering, Cook, they were all really good.
I think picking a favorite talk would be like picking a favorite child.
Not possible ;) Oh I also loved Elder Holland’s powerhouse talk on the
Book of Mormon. He always delivers a really strong message. One thing
I think I’m gonna do in the next couple of days is make goals on how I
can live and apply the things I have learned in the last couple of days.
We watched all of the sessions at the church. The people here in Texas
can get conference at home as long as they have cable or satellite or
something more than basic, free TV.

I’m glad Chandler and the missionaries in Samoa are fine. The Lord
really is watching out for his servants. That’s cool that they will be
able to help in the rebuilding process. Once, our branch president in
the MTC told us about when he was a mission president in California.
There were some wildfires. He sent some missionaries to help clean up
and rebuild. They ended up teaching a lot more people than usual while
they were working. They helped for about a month or so.

We had an investigating family come to conference. They enjoyed it.
Their name is the Luna family. They haven’t been too solid lately but
this last week they were very solid. Keep them in your prayers.

Last night we were knocking in an apartment complex. At one of the
doors there was a really funny guy. His voice sounded like the “Rex
Kwon Doe” guy on Napoleon Dynamite except angrier and a lot older. He
also had some crazy eyes goin’ on. As he ran his fingers through his
beard he informed us that he doesn’t worship a God that doesn’t have
whiskers. That gave us a good laugh. Then to make things better we
taught a pretty good lesson to a guy we met outside his apartment. We
are gonna meet again with him tomorrow.

How is work going for dad? Lots of things being built? Relief Society
is going well I assume….. It sounds like Ashley and Erik and Justin are
still having fun with their various activities. Keep me posted. You
all sound just as busy as me. Thanks for the letters and support. I
enjoyed those couple extra stories you sent me, mom. I didn’t know
Elder Reid in the MTC but that was a really neat story about his mom.

I would just like to share my testimony about the power of prayer. I
know that it is real. I know that Heavenly Father answers each and
every one. He sure has answered mine. One big thing I have learned
more about is that prayer is a conversation with God. You talk but you
also need to listen to what he has to say. Try pausing after a question
and just listening for an answer. I know that he loves us and will come
as close as we allow. I love you all with all of my heart. Stay strong
in the faith.

Con Amor,
Elder Gray

Monday, September 28, 2009

a letter from the deep reaches of south texas


Things are going great here. The weather has cooled down a bit and its
starting to feel a little bit like fall. It was in the sixties for a
couple days when it was raining but it is back up to the low nineties
now. That still isn’t bad at all though.

Roger Gonzalez got confirmed yesterday. His friend, Brother Hack, did
the confirmation.

At the base I finally saw someone in basic training that I knew, sorta.
His name is Mike Haligarda. He ran the 400 and 800 for Canyon View. He
came to our gospel principles class. At first we didn’t recognize each
other. But we started talking and he said he was from Cedar City. He
asked me if I knew Chris Gray. I replied, “Yeah that’s me.” He said he
didn’t even recognize me now. I guess 20 more pounds and a suit and tie
wasn’t what he was used to seeing me in. We talked about track for a
bit and he mentioned how their team didn’t like me because I would
always beat Braden. Ah rivalry :) It was a funny experience.

We had an interesting experience with a member the other day. We
brought her to a lesson with a blind lady. The lady that we were
teaching told us a story about how when she lived in Mexico, one of our
Bishops had given her a blessing that healed her. Then she mentioned
his name. The member then started crying and said, “Era mi padre.”
This man that had given the investigator a blessing so long ago in
Mexico was the member’s dad that had died a couple years ago. So the
member started crying and then things got weird. The investigator said
“The power of your father’s healing is in your hands. Come put your
hands on my eyes and head so that I may be healed.” Then she actually
got up and did it. She put her hands on the investigator’s head for a
couple seconds and then sat back down. The member then asked for a
priesthood blessing for both of them. So we gave them both blessings
and then left. Then the next day the member mentioned to us that she
thinks she has some healing gift. We decided to call the Bishop to
inform him of what had happened. All in all it was a very weird
experience. It really fortified my testimony about how the priesthood
really works and is from God. There was not a good feeling in the room
when this experience happened but there was a good feeling in the room
after we had given them both real blessings.

I am really looking forward to conference this next weekend. It is so
great that we get to hear from our leaders of the church. They always
have great insights on how to live a gospel filled life.

I was wondering if you all are still taking Reliv. If you are, could
you send me some? I feel like I need a little more nutrition.

Yo se que Cristo es nuestro Salvador. El es el Salvador del mundo.
Solo por medio de El, seremos feliz en las eternidades. Se que Jose
Smith fue el profeta que Dios elige para establecer su iglesia en la
tierra de nuevo. Tambien, se que nuestras problemas ayudanos crecer.
Paso a paso, podemos llegar a ser perfecto, como Jesus. Se que las
familias son eternas. Os Amo Mucho!

Con Amor,
Elder Gray

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

one fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish

So sorry this email is coming late today. All of us in south zone took
one of the mission vans down to Pleasanton and had our P-day at some
members' house. It was really fun. We fished in his pond. There were
huge bass, and huge catfish, and then a bunch of other fish that looked
like bluegill. I only caught a couple small ones. They were really
easy to catch. The big ones were a little tougher but I got a couple of
bites. We also shocked ourselves on the electric fence :) It was just a
little shock in the beginning. Then we tried it with our shoes off. It
really shocked us then. They really treated us and fed us well.

We had zone conference this last week. And, as always, I learned a lot.
One of the big focuses was on "Prime time." Between 5-9pm are our best
hours to do missionary work. This conference was more of an
instructional one from my perspective. We got a lot of good pointers on
how to keep dinner appointments down to an hour, how to help the members
help their friends, and so on.

We baptized Roger Gonzalez yesterday. It was really awesome. He is an
amazing man and will do amazing things for the church.

Its crazy but it seems like every week is going by faster. Being a
missionary is so normal to me now that its going to be weird to go back
and resume "normal life." I love being out here. There are a lot of
ups but there is also some downs. But I know that the Lord needs me to
go through all that I do so that I can be molded into whatever he needs
me for later on.

I heard this quote somewhere a couple of days ago: "Success is 1% genius
and 99% hard work." Also I heard another one that basically said that
you show true character when you keep working hard, even when its not
the funnest.

Well it is time for me to go so I hope you all have a great week. Keep
up the awesomeness and stay close to the Lord.

Elder Christopher Gray

Monday, September 14, 2009

Mixed Success

So first of all before I forget, what do you all want me to get you, as
far as souvenirs and stuff? I've been thinking that I need to get you
all something. There is a mexican market here in San Antonio that we go
to every month or so. They have little mexican trinkets or shirts or
just about anything mexican or texan that you can think of. Its fairly
cheap too. Do you all want matching shirts? Or different shirts? Or
something else? Just let me know soon so I can get you all something.
If you want shirts tell me the sizes to get.

This week we have had mixed success. We are gonna baptize Roger this
weekend. His interview really helped him. He is a really good man with
really strong prayers. I am really excited to see him finally take this
next step. I will let you know how everything goes. We are going to
teach a family of 18 tonight. They live by some members of the ward.
We haven't met them yet but I think it will turn out well.

We started teaching a family that left New Orleans after Katrina. We
have met quite a few people here in Texas that were displaced by that
hurricane. Its crazy. The awesome thing about it though is that it
brought most of them closer to God, not further away.

It is starting to get cooler here too. Its nice to dip below the 100's.
It has been raining off and on for the last 4 days. That has been a
big, nice relief. I hear the weather here is really nice when its not
summer. I am excited.

So the strangest thing I have eaten here so far is either called pasole
or menudo. I can't remember. I've had both but one of them is made out
of some animal's stomach. Its a soup. It tastes pretty good as long as
I try to forget what actually is :) My favorite thing so far would have
to be anytime someone feeds us authentic mexican food. We bought a
watermelon from a truck off the side of the road last week. It was the
best watermelon I have ever had. With my haircuts I just have another
elder cut it. Last time I just buzzed my head and then Elder Finlayson
touched up the back. As far as bike riding, our area is fairly flat.
We do have a lot of gradual slopes though but nothing too horrible.
Thanks for the insights from President Bednar from the temple
dedication. I really enjoyed reading about it. It seems like
everything in all your letters is just what I need at the time. I know
that our Heavenly Father loves us all. He will always be there as long
as we are willing to do our part. I also know that Joseph Smith was
called by God to bring back the true church. I know that our prophet,
Thomas S. Monson, is called by God and receives revelation for us. I
love you all. Keep up the good work.

Con Amor (with love),

Elder Gray

PS I have been making lots of things lately out of that recipe book that
Ashley gave me. Thanks Ash! And thanks for that little Moroni
figurine, Justin. Whenever I look at it I try to remember to be as good
as Moroni was. Erik, you are a stud ;)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Busy with Teaching and Finding

Hey we are at a member's house emailing this week so I don't know how
long I have to write. We'll see. We were pretty busy with teaching and
finding. We found this semi-ghetto neighborhood that we hadn't seen
before. We have had a good amount of success there so far. The members
here are great. They feed us plenty and help us with lessons a lot.
Good people.

Our zone changed around a lot this last transfer. Elder Dennis, the
other elder from Cedar, got sent to Roundrock. Roundrock is a city just
a little north of Austin. Its fun to have a little mix-up and see some
new faces as well as a couple old ones. We got shirts made for the
whole south zone. They are awesome. I also bought a custom made ring
that says TSAM on it. I will take pics so you can see them next time I
send a memory card home.

That is awesome that Elder Cook is coming to Cedar. You'll have to tell
me how it goes. How are the wildfires? Hopefully they have died down.
Try not to get the black lung (cough cough). Just kidding. But
seriously I hope that the damage is minimal. Thanks for telling me
about who your teachers and sports and stuff. Your teachers are all
awesome Erik. I don't know Bro. Chappell but all the other ones are
awesome in their own ways. I really loved having Mrs. Coates for
Algebra 2. She is an excellent teacher. Thats awesome about football.
You play right tackle right? Keep up the good work. The same goes for
the rest of you. I am so proud of all of you and proud to be in the
best family ever.

At that zone conference I was a little nervous to talk. But now that
I've done it it shouldn't be too bad next time.

I love you all. Have a fun Labor Day!

Con Amor,
Elder Gray

P.S. Let me know if there ever is anything that I need to add to my

Phrase of the week: Que tenga buen dia=I hope you have a good day/Have a
good day. Pronounce que like the letter k. Tenga rhymes with jenga.
Buen rhymes with "gwen" steffani. And dia rhymes with the car "kia."

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Las Familias Son Eternas

First of all...Yes its transfer week. My companion and I are staying
together. A lot of people are getting switched around. Our district
will be a lot different here in a couple days. And second...We got our
goal as a mission! We helped 105 people enter into the waters of
baptism in August. Everybody is way excited about it. We can do even
better too just as long as we don't get complacent. We didn't baptize
Roger yet. Some things came up but he should be baptized in the coming
weeks. Do you remember me talking about Elder Hunt? He is one of our
zone leaders. Well anyways he just got called to be an Assistant to the
President. He is super awesome. He will do well.

This last month has been kinda bittersweet for our companionship. Our
mission finally achieved our monthly baptismal goal, me and Elder
Finlayson get along super well and everything is great with our
relationship, but we had some really legit people decide not to go
through with their baptisms. Its sad but we just have to keep truckin.
As long as we keep working hard, the Lord will provide.

We have a sweet less-active family that we are getting to come back to
church. There are like a dozen kids at this house and all of them that
are old enough are baptized. They love the missionaries. They are
super cute and fun to teach. Their uncle lives with them and they love
to work out with him. They all are gonna be super strong. Charles is
Justin's age and is way strong already. He loves to do pull-ups. They
are so funny.

In my Book of Mormon reading I have been reading a lot in 1 Nephi.
Nephi has such great faith and obedience. The Lord really blessed him a
lot for his efforts. He was privileged enough to be able to see many
visions and things of that sort. Just think how great the world would
be if we had a couple more people like Nephi.

We have started running a little bit in the mornings. I really have
enjoyed it and I am slowly getting into shape again. We pushed the car
down the street again on Monday. It is a really great workout. I am
going to start Air-Alert next week. If I have a program that I have to
stick to, I will exercise more and then maybe I won't get too fat :)

It sounds like you are all keeping super busy back at home. You are all
studs. I'm so excited for all of you succeeding in the things you are
doing. Keep up the hard work and don't fall into the trap of this
generation. So many people could do so much better if they were just
consistent in their efforts. Idleness has been the downfall of many,
even whole nations. But y'all are doing great so just keep on going. I
love you all so much. Stay close to the Lord.

Elder Gray

P.S. I do have the Audio CD's in Spanish of the BOM. The english ones
would be great.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Pictures From Elder Gray!

Elder Gray!

My Comp standing in the back with me

Lives right by Lackland AFB

Attended a session in the San Antonio Temple in July.

Attended a ball game on P day for *Mormon Night* 10 of the Elders/Sisters sang the National Anthem. Chris didn't, but his comp did...Elder Smith from a transfer ago...the one from England...they gave him a hard time being a Brit and singing the Natl Anthem. LOL

Don't mess with Texas!

Winners of the TSAM shoe! Chris is in the middle row, left side next to the shoe.

Monday, August 24, 2009


Sounds like things are going well back at home. How is school going
for everyone? I can't believe its almost fall again.

But anyways things are going really well here. On Tuesday we did
exchanges with the zone leaders. I got to go with Elder Hunt.
I really liked it. Its always fun to get to learn from someone
else for a day. Elder Hunt has been a really successful missionary
so I learned a lot of good things from him. Mario and his wife
have been pretty good but things that they can't control have
really gotten in their way. She had her baby this morning and
they are moving next week so we were a little sad. But luckily
they are moving in to our zone leaders' area. They will take good
care of them.

We have had some disappointments with investigators but that's
OK because Roger is going to be baptized this coming weekend :)
We are really excited for him.

So I just realized that I forgot to tell you all about the zone
conference we had a couple weeks ago. I got to get up in front
of everyone and talk about prayer and how it helps investigators.
I read part of the Bible Dictionary entry on prayer. It was
the part that talks about our relationship with Heavenly Father.
I think it went over pretty well. Then at the end of the conference,
President and Sister Cutler gave us all an early Christmas present.
We each received a Book of Mormon with instructions to read it
and mark certain things. Every time we see Jesus' name or any one
of his names (Lord, Lamb of God, etc...) we mark it in yellow.
His attributes-green. His words-red. Principles applying to us as
missionaries-blue. It has been really fun. I am seeing a lot of
stuff that I haven't seen before.

On Saturday and Sunday our Spanish ward had some really amazing
baptisms. The Cardenas family was baptized. Elders Solano and
Dennis had been teaching them for a while. They had been going
to church for two years (the mom was the only member in the
family before this weekend). On Saturday the dad was baptized
and then confirmed right away. His old bishop from California flew
in and performed the ordinance. He received the Aaronic priesthood
and baptized his four kids on Sunday. The spirit was so strong at
both the baptisms. Most of the ward attended the baptisms. The
Spanish ward has great unity and supports each other really well.

This morning we pushed the car down the street for our workout.
I am not in good shape so I threw up after wards.

Thanks for the updates and thanks for that thought on prayer
in your last letter Dad. And thanks Mom for sending that AirAlert
stuff so quickly. I'm gonna start that program pretty soon. And
about Elder Rowley, the name sounds familiar but I don't know
who that is. That is awesome about Ashley getting her PR.
(In X Country) That is an incredible time. I'm excited for Erik
too. He looks pretty buff in those pictures. Chick magnet ;)
Justin too! All of you look older in those pictures that you sent
the other week. Well except for Brooke and Tim. They look
the same. Thanks for everything and stay close to the Lord.
Love y'all tons.

Elder Gray

PS I am sending pics in the mail tomorrow. Thanks for offering
to send me the CD BOM in Spanish but I already bought it at
the distribution center. Do you think you could send the CDs
of it in English?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Read Alma's one of my favorites

This week was another great week. We have Roger set with a baptismal
date for the last Sunday of the month. He is still taking everything in
real well. His baptismal interview is set for this coming week. Mario
and family are still going strong. Just in these last couple weeks they
have changed so much. I am really excited for them. They are planning
on getting married and getting baptized this month before she has her

Sorry this letter is so short but I wrote one and it didn't go through.
I dunno, maybe it did, but it isn't in my outbox. If it did go through
somehow just ignore this one. But anyways I don't have enough time to
write another one. Thanks for the letters and pictures and everything.
Good luck in all your sports. It sounds like you are doing awesome
already. I will be sending a memory card with pics soon. Also do you
think you could look and see if we still have that Air Alert program
lying around somewhere. I would like to start doing that for my morning
workouts. So just let me know, please :) Also let me know if there's
anything I should include or exclude in my letters. Thanks for being my
family and I hope you all continue to be blessed. Oh and tell Grandma
and grandpa thanks for that letter in Spanish. It was awesome! I love
you all.

Elder Gray

P.S. Read Alma 32. Its one of my favorites

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Time is flying

Hello Family,
Its so crazy how fast time has been flying by out here. It seems like just yesterday we were driving to the MTC. This last week has especially gone by quick.

Ending this week we have 5 investigators with a baptismal date. One of the couples we have set with a date has a lot of things they need to change. However, they are willing to change each and every one of those things. They are really awesome and funny. Mario, the husband got real wide eyed when we told him about the Word of Wisdom but then he committed to fix his problems. He has quit smoking cold turkey before and he knows he can do it again. They have a baby due at the end of the month and he wants to quit for her. He did it when his last baby, Isis, was born. Isis is four now. We found an awesome family in the ward that is really getting along well with Mario's family. They have really helped Mario so far. Another one of our awesome investigators is name Roger. His friend, Brother Hack, has been slowly introducing him more and more to the church. He is super super solid. After one of our lessons he asked Heavenly Father to "open his eyes and point him to the right path." He has been taking everything in like a sponge.

The base is still really awesome. The members there are doing really good missionary work. There are a lot of returned missionaries. We have about 7 people that want to be baptized right now. Most of then will be baptized back in their hometowns but we have two or three that will be baptized here. In our gospel principles class we have had between 15 and 20 nonmembers attending each week. Of those, about half have indicated that they want to be baptized.

Elder Finlayson is a really awesome missionary. He is super motivated in everything. I just hope that soon I can be just as awesome. I learn more and more from him each day. He will not allow himself to be complacent in anything. That is the secret. He is a couple inches taller than me. One person said he kinda looks like Kramer from Seinfeld. He kinda does but at the same time not really. I'll have to get a pix to you sooner or later. At first we were tracting almost all day. Now since we have a bunch of potentials we just knock between 1-3 hours a day.

All your letters are perfect. Don't worry about changing anything in them. I really liked that story about the little boy and the valentines. Justin, my companions and I have baptized 9 people so far on my mission. I got to actually baptize 2 of them, I think. But each and everyone of these people were baptized because of the spirit converting them, not us. That's awesome that you got a facebook and an X box. We will have to play against each other when I get back. Just remember to stay active ;) I'm sure you will though. That is awesome that you get to be on a traveling soccer team. That is something that I never go to do. It is really hot here, but I am used to it now. It is about 100* on a cooler day and about 105* on the hotter days. We are going through a really bad drought down here so it has rained a little, but not much. Someone told me it was the worst drought in recent history in southern Texas.

Keep close to the Lord and remember, "Every member a missionary".

Elder Gray

Monday, August 3, 2009

Just keep doing all the little things consistently

Feliz Cumpleanos Padre y hermana Ashley (Happy Birthday to both of them)
Hey I hope its alright that my card for you this year is going to be through email. I love you so much and I am very grateful for all that you have done for me. I couldn't ask for a better dad. Also, thanks for all your quotes and support. Words can't express how much I love you.
Thanks for being the best younger sister ever. I look up to you in many ways. You always try to be nice even when others around you aren't the nicest. Keep up the hard work and you can achieve anything. Remember, throughout history, people have said it was impossible to do many things. Breaking the four minute mile, flying an airplane, traveling to the moon, and the list goes on. Look how much we as humans have achieved above the so called "impossible." So what I am trying to say is this: Don't let people tell you what you can and can't do. Anything is possible. Set a goal and achieve it.

As for your question about keeping the spirit with you........The ways I have found is by listening to good uplifting music, praying often and asking for the for the spirit, daily scripture study, and just keeping my thoughts focesed on good things. When you study, "liken the scriptures unto yourself", apply the stories to your life and think of good principles from them. Basically, you don't need to do anything huge and amazing. Just keep doing all the little things consistently.

Wow, that took a little more time than I thought. So I guess this will be my weekly letter too. I don't think I thanked Justin for his last picture that he sent me. Thanks so much Justin! You are really thoughtful and kind for taking the time to make that for me. I really, really appreciate it.

This last week has been awesome. We have found so many more people to teach. Elder Finlayson is an awesome missionary. Very motivated. I am learning more from him every day. We have three people with a baptismal date for August so far. Our zone has a bunch lined up too. Ten or fifteen I think.

It sounds like you guys had fun up at Yankee Meadows. Thanks for the package too. It was really creative and fun. I really like those fruit chillers. Sometimes I just need some sugar and those do fantastic. Sorry to bother you so soon for another package but do you think could you send three more short sleeved white shirts to me from missionary mall? Same size. If you have any difficulties don't worry about getting them out right away.

I need to go now but I love you all and I wish you the very best. I love you all. Stay close to the Lord and Good Luck with the Eagle Project, sports, school, jobs, and everything else.

Elder Gray

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I am glad that the Lord has blessed me with a bunch of good companions

Thanks for pics. It looks like you all had a lot of fun camping. This week has been pretty fun. My new companion is named Elder Finlayson. He plays waterpolo for Stanford so he is smart and athletic. He is from a little city called Alamo just right outside of Oakland, California. His Spanish is awesome. He is a really hard worker and a very obedient missionary. Each of my companions has been awesome in different aspects. I am glad that the Lord has blessed me with a bunch of good companions.

This week we had an awesome baptism. William was the name of the person getting baptized. I have seen him come so far along the path. It's been awesome. It was my first time being in charge of a baptism. It was stressful but everything worked out in the end.

Elder Finlayson likes to do a lot of tracting/knocking, so we have been doing a lot of that lately. However, we got some updated lists from the ward and are going to do some more 'less active' work. And Elder Smith liked to do more less active work with a little bit of knocking. So each of my companions has had a little different style but it all works out in the end.

That is awesome that you are teaching some investigators in the ward right now. Keep up the good work. But remember to find some good fellow shippers. Most of the people that don't have many friends in the ward stop coming after awhile. Also as a side note, I heard somewhere that wards that focus primarily on missionary work always have more success in every aspect of the ward.

This next little bit is more for non-family people that are reading my letters. I just wanted you all to know that I am gonna stop writing letters to everyone except for the family. I know some missionaries who have done this and it really helped them to focus and have an awesome mission. It will help me to focus on what I am out here to do. In Matthew, I don't remember the exact verse, the Lord told the disciples that if they forsake things for the work of the Lord then they will be blessed many times over in the eternities.

I love each one of you and I enjoy each and every letter. I look forward to the "cool" package from you mom. Stay close to the Lord.

Elder Gray

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Our success rate goes up dramatically when the members are involved

Dear Everyone,
So guess what? Elder Smith is getting transferred on Thursday. I'm a little sad, but at the same time its fun to get someone new. He is going to be doubled in to his new area (that means that both him and his companion will be new to that area.) I'm sure both of us will get awesome companions. His leg is doing well. It just had a big bruise. The dog's teeth barely broke the skin.

We helped a member of the ward move this week. She was recently divorced and really needed help. We had a lot of fun moving everything. We got a free couch and chair from it. Also we committed another person for baptism. He is probably in his late 30's or early 40's. He has been investigating the church since January and he finally worked out everything that was standing in the way of him getting baptized. We gave him a blessing about 2 weeks ago and that really helped. He was going through a tough time. I believe either his dad or his father-in-law is going to perform the actual baptism. He will be baptized on Saturday morning.

Sister Meyer is doing awesome. She is staying active and wants to do temple baptisms as soon as she can. Sister Williams is also doing awesome. Her husband is funny. He reminds me a lot of a guy that I worked with at the hotel, Justin. (Town & Country last summer)

The work at the base is going well. We have about four or five people that are really serious about being baptized. However, most of them are going to wait until after BMT (Basic Military Training) and get baptized wherever they do tech school at.

We had an awesome district meeting this week about working with members. It was one of the best district meetings yet. We had a lot of good ideas thrown around. The thing is we really do need referrals from members. Our success rate goes up dramatically when the members are involved. I challenge you all to find a family that the missionaries can teach. I'm sure they would really appreciate it and you will get a bunch of blessings, too.

I received that letter about Tyler yesterday. (His cousin - on a mission in Russia) That is awesome that he is doing well. That's crazy how far he had to go to get to Zone conference. I thing the farthest I've gone is about 10 minutes.

I bought an awesome cowboy hat last week. And it was only ten bucks. I also bought this really comfortable Mexican jacket that was only about eight dollars. All I need now is a big belt buckle and some boots :)

Well, I just remembered that either mom or dad had a question about something but I can't remember what it was. so what I will do is find the letter, write it down in my planner, then answer it next week.

So just one last little thought I thought I would share with you all. Remember to stay close as a family. Out here we can tell which families do things together like FHE and scripture reading and all that fun family stuff. The whole family is just better. I know it has really helped our family stay close together. Thanks for all the letters. Stay close to the Lord. Les amo.

Con amor,
Elder Gries

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Book is Blue, and the Church is True!

Dear Family,

Well another week has passed by. It was pretty awesome. We had our interviews with the President on Tuesday. I really like those because he is so understanding and he makes everyone feel awesome. We talked about things that I could improve on and also just about how life has been. His son just got home from his mission in Costa Rica.

On Wednesday we had a pretty fun experience. We were at a house with a fenced in yard and all of the sudden these three dogs come running around the corner. The first one was a big pitbull, the other looked like a pitbull/terrier mix, and the other one was just a little grey dog. The first two were angry but they were keeping their distance. The grey one was a nice dog. So we started slowly backing up to the gate. We were almost ther when the pitbull/terrie lunged at Elder Smith and bit him in the leg. He kicked it and it tried to bite himagain but it just nicked him in the other leg. I wasn't gonna wait around for the pitbull to attack so I ran and jumped the fence. Elder Smith was right behind me but was thinking more clearly so he just opened the gate. His bites weren't very bad at all. He just had some ripped pants and a big bruise on one of his calves. It had just barely broken the skin. The members that we were having dineer with were just down the street. So we finished knocking the street and then went to dinner. This family has a daughter that likes to give nicknames to all the missionaries. She hadn't given me one yet so mine is now Elder Forrest (because I ran away from the dogs) (as in Forrest Gump!). Elder Smith's is Big Ben because he's big and from England. But don't worry. Both of us are safe and sound.

We are teaching a guy right now that is almost ready for baptism. We are going to commit him with a date this week. I got to confirm Sister Meyer yesterday. She is so excited to be a member.

On Friday Elder Smith and I got to go on exchanges with the zone leaders. I slept over at their apartment on Thursday night. I got to go with Elder DeLeo. He is from Pocatello. We had a really good day on Friday. We taught a couple of lessons. We shared an article from the October General Conference in one of our lessons. The talk is called "The Way". It was very good. You should check it out. I liked going with Elder DeLeo. He is an awesome zone leader and I learned a lot.

On Saturday we got to go to the Temple. It was really nice to go. I love it there. Its so peaceful. Its a smaller temple. There is only one session going on at a time. But it is still just as awesome as all the other temples. After that we went to the distribution center, an LDS bookstore, and a Great Harvest bakery. They give out a free loaf of bread to missionaries so I got some pizza bread.

Thanks for sending me that camelback and those cookies and music and gum (I think i got it covered, but thanks for anything else I missed). That camelback is worth its weight in gold out here in this Texas heat. I'm glad to hear that you all are having fun. Congrats on your running Ash and good job with football Erik. You are both working hard. Good job on going to EFY. That is the best thing you can do this summer. Tell Brooke and Tim hi. Oh which reminds me......Brooke, do you remember a Schoney about your age. I think his first name is Kyle. He said he was in your sophomore English class or something. Well anyways he is here in the TSAM and says hi. His sister is the Schoney girl that has a bunch of the school records in track.

Remember, the book is blue and the church is true. I love you all and stay close to the Lord.

Elder Gray

P.S. Try reading The Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) while using the book Jesus The Christ as kind of a study guide. I found it really helps me.