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.