Monday, July 11, 2011

July 11, 2011


So I've been sitting here thinking and thinking what I can write in my last letter as a missionary...and nothing is coming to my mind except for a lyric I remember from a Matisyahu song it goes something like this, "Time will continue without you, so in the end it's not about you, so what did you do, who did you love....... besides you?" So with that in mind I'm going to begin to try to begin to write one of the hardest letters I'm going to have to write in my entire life. I cannot tell you how grateful I am for these past two years. My Heavenly King has helped me so much out here,and I feel like I've acquired the wisdom of 30 years and I found everything I was looking for. I was challenged beyond what I thought was able, I met some of the most amazing people of my life, I bled,cried, rejoiced, laughed, screamed, smiled, felt foolish, felt blessed beyond comprehension,gave up, lost hope, got up after I was knocked down and tried even harder, read, prayed, fasted, spoke and communed with my creator, I made mistakes, I corrected most of them, I spoke peace unto the broken hearted, I preached deliverance to the captives, I mourned with those that mourned, I lifted those who leaned, I strengthen the feeble knees, and in turn I was strengthened. If I could even try to begin to describe all that I've experienced, learned, felt, or seen..I suppose it would take twice as much time as I have been out. If I could even put to words what this mission has meant to me and what my lovely family means to me they would be the sweetest and most heartfelt words a pen has ever written upon paper. Thank you all for supporting me these last two years,reading my weekly emails,writing,praying and everything else you've all done for me to which I am not aware and surely will never be able to repay. My heart is swollen with gratitude for the support and prayers that have been sent my way and I want you all to know that they have been felt and much appreciated.

Life will continue to move and go on, my time in the Philippines is done and it's time to start a new chapter in my life. I'm reminded of what Jacob the Prophet in the Book of Mormon said at the end of his life. (Jacob 7:26) " saying that the time passed away with us, and also our lives passed away like as it were unto us a dream, we being a lonesome and a solemn people,wanderers, cast out from Jerusalem, born in tribulation, in a wilderness, and hated of our brethren, which caused wars and contentions; wherefore, we did mourn out our days." I have come to know that these words spoken nearly 2400 years ago are some of the truest words ever spoken from a prophets lips. Our time is temporary. We are strangers in this foreign land. We don't belong here. It will all pass like a dream and one day we will find ourselves in a place that is oddly familiar some place we've known before, our real home. However, in that day when we find ourselves there it will be time to give an accounting. An accounting of what we've done..for it's not all about the end who did we love more? Ourselves, our vain passions and our vices or Him who gave us everything? Did we lose ourselves in the service of others and try to improve ourselves each day or did we treat our probation like another failed new years revolution? A motto I've taken for my mission since day one I learned from a couple that came into my life unexpectedly as I worked at Arriba's. He was an elderly man who was very spiritual. Notwithstanding we didn't agree at all on doctrine or notions of God or who we think He is, he taught me a very important lesson and I respect him and love him for his faith in God. The quote he would often repeat to me as I would ask him about his beliefs and his purpose here were six simple words. And with these six simple borrowed words I'd like to end the last letter I will ever write as an anointed servant of The Most High.

Love God. Do Good. Go Home.

-Elder Joshua Austin Lonell Gonzalez
July 11, 2011

Monday, July 4, 2011

July 4, 2011


Hmmm, so your last letter asked if I will be ready to come home and join your crazy life style in two weeks...I think I can manage haha I mean I was assigned on the crazy voodoo island Marinduque...after that I can handle anything ;) even a 5'11 205lb little brother who seems to forgot his place at the bottom of the food chain..I've been training in Arnis (Filipino Martial Arts) I can take anyone haha...including Mr. Coats....I think that will be my first fight when I get home...haha I'm kidding I'm happy for Melissa and hope she had a wonderful wedding!
My companion is Elder Perez....and it seems the Lord has been trying to teach me a lesson I've yet to really learn...I've been struggling these past two weeks with another companion who lacks some motivation, desire, and purpose here...however I'm keeping my head up...trying to work as hard as I can given the position I am in and inspire my companion...I've not lost faith...I've gotten frustrated but I've read another amazing book this week entitled "As a man thinketh" by James's a book I think we should all give a read and it's only 40-50 pages...anyways add that to your books right after you guys finish the Book of Mormon...haha I really hope you've started! anyways heres a quote that has inspired me this week.

"Man is made or unmade by himself. In the armory of thought he forges the weapons by which he destroys himself. He also fashions the tools with which he builds for himself heavenly mansions of joy and strength and peace."

Or in simple's all about your attitude..thought leads to action which leads to habit which leads to character development which eventually leads to your destiny..So you choose...are you going to destroy yourself with negative outlooks or be ambitious and do what hasn't been done by filling yourself with inspiring and noble thoughts?

I have two weeks left and I am just gonna work my hardest and be the best I can be for the Lord and not worry about anything else.

I've yet to meet the new Mission President...I hear from certain people in the mission that he is a bit of a tight wad and lacks a sense of a humor..but like the thought I just shared..I'm not going to have any preconcieved notions I'm going to go in thinking he is the kindest and nicest man I've ever my last mission president who's changed my life in so many ways. I'm sure he's an amazing guy who wants to serve the Lord and enjoy his time here! I mean he is from Arizona..he can't be that's not like he's from those mormons are weird!
I am flying alone. I flew here alone. and to be honest I prefer it...How it works you ask? I don't know...I suppose I won't have companions until I touch down in Arizona haha...can you say...FREEDOM? I promise you I won't get into any trouble..and if I do get'll have to make a trip to Japan to save me..come on it will be like old times! The group I came here with...will leave 9 days after me...and the girls have been home for over 6 months now...I prefer to fly alone because I dont know. In the MTC when I was depressed over having to stay a bit longer, Heavenly Father spoke to me and really comforted me. I was praying one time and I was asking Him to humble me so I wouldn't lose faith over the fact I was staying a bit longer...He then spoke peace unto my soul and told me..."When you were baptized you weren't alone, when you went to Church for all those years you weren't alone, when you entered the MTC you weren't alone, and when you fly to My vineyard you won't be alone..I've been along side you the whole time and I will continue to be Now be of Good Cheer.." and I can hear Him now telling me...He'll be with me on the ride don't you worry for a second momma!

Walter, a really good friend of mine that I met through Elder Mace when we were companions has been helping us teach Michael and Reymart (The 2 mute guys) we are teaching...and I can really see them being baptized in the next week or two...they've been waiting for 6 months and are overly anxious..and it's a testimony to me of how Good the Lord is because our new zone leader Elder Doughty (awesome guy from Texas) has been studying sign language to take over for me once my time is done here and with them and with the help of Him who is Eternal be able to interview them for baptism! So I am way excited!
Mom would have ever thought, that I would be in a land so far away speaking a foreign language and signing in a foreign language to serve our Heavenly Father.
I want to thank you all again for reading through the letters I send weekly and just loving me unconditionally...I know I'm not that easy to love and I'm not a perfect man or son..and I will never claim to be..even when I come home I know I'm still going to make a ton of mistakes..I've come to know that making stupid mistakes and making a fool of myself is an amazing learning experience...that's how I learned tagalog so fast..Heavenly Father help me look like an idiot for the first 6 months of my mission speaking this foreign tongue. But I love you unconditionally as well.. and I will do anything for my family and I will defend them even until blood shed...I love you all so much and I cannot wait to see a matter of 14 days I'm going to see the most amazing people that I know...ahhh I can't wait...but I still have a work that I must do here and I can't come down from a great work like this. Don't lose faith...because He's never lost faith in me..even when I was at my lowest...we're almost through this....and then we won't have to go through it again.............. until Zach goes on his mission haha ;)

Love you!

Elder Joshua Austin Lonell Gonzalez.

I can't wait to get back and just get close to you both again ...I miss you all so much and I feel a lot of my high school years I didn't know who I was or where my direction was..but now I know who I am and what's important so I am ready to start my life and jsut...ah I'm excited haha...anyways there is a song I think we can relate can think of when times are tough...and anytime you need to vent just call me or email me! I'll always listen! it's from this awesome filipino band here.

Hoy hoy, Buloy hey hey Buloy
Naaalala mo pa ba do you still remember
Nun' tayo'y nagsasama? when we were together
Hoy hoy, Buloy hey hey buloy
Naaalala mo pa ba do you still remember
Ang iyong mga sinabi nung ako'y may problema? the things you said when I had a problem

Sabi mo, "lahat ng problema'y kayang lampasan, you said "all the problems we have we can get over...."
Basta't tayo'y nagsasama, at nag-iinuman!" only if we are together..and we're drinking

that's a bad rough translation haha in other word...I need ya momma! and we need to pour a big glass of dr. pepper haha

love you!!!

Monday, June 27, 2011

June 27, 2011


Hey guys! This week has been long, but also really enjoyable! We had a baptism this week! I got to baptize Karen..and it was a really cool event. She was happy and her mother came to the baptism who isn't a member but super supportive of her child and anything she wants to reminded me a bit of you mom. Nothing too much has been going on here in Lucban, President Anderson leaves in a few days and I am excited to meet the new president, I have 3 weeks left in my area and I am trying my best to stay on top of everything...but days are moving slower then I could ever imagine..I suppose that's the experience of most missionaries returning home...but once we get home I'm sure I will miss this place desperately. I have a few stories for you from this week and one that probably won't make you too happy but I want to rant about it so bear with me.

We have an investigator by the name of Sister Tita. She lives a 15 minute walk out of town in a small lot of land that is not her own. She lives in house no bigger than half the size of most people's garages. She also lives in a house where the only love she feels is from her two daughters (7 and 11) and crippled younger son who fell out of a tree when he was eight and can no longer walk. Over looking her house is a giant tree that haunts her day and night because of the event that happened exactly 5 years ago this month. If you look past the haunting tree is a veritable ocean of "palayan" or rice fields and in this ocean you can see all sorts of different animals fighting for survival and seeing who can eat the most all under a grey sky that never seems to change it's gloomy colors only when the night sets in and that's when everything turns pitch dark. We've been teaching her for sometime and she finally went to Church yesterday and she was completely glowing! She really had a great time and brought here 2 daughters (7 and 11) and her 1 year old baby. We went to her house after when the whole town was dark because the power went out for a few hours yesterday...very typical in the Philippines. And we talked about her family, Church, and the struggles she had making it today. Her husband didn't really like the fact she was taking all the children, save Marc (Paralysized Son) to Church...she basically said I'm going no matter what and ended up having a great time. She opened up about her passed and her husband I felt really bad for her. She said remarks like, "I hate him", "I wish I could leave with my children" and "He still regrets what he did". That last one caught me off guard so of course because of my inquisitive nature...I just had to know. She started the story about telling us about her oldest daughter. You could see the pride she had in her, and how much she loved could feel the love radiating out of her warm face and tear filled eyes. She was the most obedient and kind of all the children she had, she only wanted to make her parents happy and always was there when times were bad when her husband would get drunk and angry. One night about five years ago, the daughter asked Tita if she could spend the night with her friends and the boy she had her eye on at this waterfall close to their house, and because of the loving nature of her mom she allowed it. About 3 or 4 hours later when the sky grew dark the drunken lush father came stumbling through the front of the wooden house in a rage. He began finding fault with everything, and quickly discovered that his oldest wasn't there. He then began questioning Tita where his daughter was...she tried her best to not reveal exactly where she was...but he got through her and set out on bringing her back home. He shortly found his way to where they were camping, and in front of all her friends and the boy she really liked he cussed her out, said awful things about her friends and her in front of everyone, screamed, and made a huge scene. This was the last straw, years of bottled up temper in an angsty teenage mind decided on the worst possible solution to the problem. She ran away from the campsite leaving her father there, and didn't return home that night. After the father returned he explained everything to Tita and they began searching for her. On Monday when everyone returned to school, no one even knew what happened to their friend with a crazy father. They started a search party and began looking for her..the search only lasted about twenty feet. In the tree that over looks the rice fields and towers over their home hung the body of a stiffened and strangled 15 year old girl. She decided to end it because she couldn't cope with the serious problems she thought she was facing. Needless to say, every since that day 5 years ago the father has never been the same and his drinking has only increased and the lack of love in the home only intensifies day in and day out. Now this isn't the first time I'd experience or heard about suicide or murders in my mission...there has been few times here where I've been only within a few feet of crime scenes. But this one bothered me a lot. Tita is such a wonderful woman and a really kind soul, but she seems to have found her way into a marriage with someone who only really loves them self, or loves their vices more than any other human being. It's a depressing thought, but you cannot ignore what is in front of you..even in the Church Infidelity and Divorce is higher than it should be. However, I am hopeful-or call it naive I know that if the gospel is lived, you kill you selfishness, and be willing to sacrifice everything to have a happy family and marriage things will work out. and that is what I am going to do. Ladies..I'm single and a RM in 3 weeks.

Love you with all my heart,


Monday, June 20, 2011

June 20, 2011

haha great letter, I liked how it was short and to the point..and in
ALL CAPITALS! I fear that your sight is failing you...let's hope not
haha. or perhaps the indonesian is messing with your could
always call Brett and have him help you with that!

Now to answer your questions: I wasn't transferred I am still in Lucban, Quezon
My last transfer was a lot of fun with Elder Shepherdson, I don't
think I had that great of an influence on him or helped him find his
fire...but he told me I taught him the importance of reading
scriptures...though you never read them too often...we still had a
great time!
It was a bit sad to see president go..when he was leaving his office
he kinda did a quick escape...okay elders I will see you now..and
basically ran out of the office because he was teary eyed and drove
away...he doesn't leave for a week and a half though
I told you about my new companion in my venting letter...however he is
really nice and I am enjoying it ....taking in each day having fun
teaching, just enjoying being in His service for another month
I'm back to a District Leader...that means I got a district to take care
of and people to interview..and apparently that's what I will "die" as
in the's cool I like being able to instruct my district
every week and I am finding it very easy with all the in-field
experience that I got now! ( I got a demotion, but need to leave the new President in the best hands) , I am working with and training the new Zone leader, to ensure my job here is complete and carries onward.
I'm excited to hear I'll be able to hang out with you for a week when
I get home...I'm sure your boss and everyone in 5 square miles know
that I'm coming home haha..

I just wanted to remind you of the exact dates to avoid any confusion.

Arrival: July 18th around 1pm- Sky Harbor
Home coming Party: Hopefully the Saturday of 23rd.
Home coming Talk: 24th 9:00am

Mom, could you do me a huge favor and make those Facebook
announcements so that we can get a ton of people there...I'd love to
have the house filled when I get not because I want to show
you how good I am at cleaning...but because I am vain and think myself
important.. ahha.

Regarding food...I am craving bad Mexican Food...hopefully we can have
Dad cater again...

I hope it's okay that a few elder from the mission are planning on
being there...they can crash in my room...I mean your office...we're
used to sleeping on pretty bad surfaces so we don't mind sleeping
under desks...

other than plans for when I get home date wise.

July 18-24th Home coming and hanging out with you guys
I don't know if the boys have got any thing planned.
July 29-aug 2nd Sandy wants to come visit
august 4-5 there is a FAIR convention (big nerdy convention where
Scholars get together and discuss boring things about religion and
philosophy) I want to go to Utah but I gotta find money between now
and then haha doesn't seem very likely
August 10-12 Trebas and Spjutes wedding..he invited me to the sealin
in the temple so I'm stoked about that...and I don't know what to wear
or do at weddings I'm gonna need some help mom hahaha..I m stilla
little boy!

August 18th School starts...
hopefully I'll get the classes I want and only go to school on
Wednesday and Thursday so I can work the rest of the time...that's
really all I got planned haha..

I love ya so much mom! Don't worry I'll get some sand and shells for you !

love you so much!!!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Photos!!! June 6, 2011

Well.. This is it this week .. I guess our favorite Elder was too busy…..

Thursday, June 2, 2011

May 23, 2011


I'm not sure if you got my other emails that I sent. but I wanted to write you again and kinda update you with what's going on here. Elder Shepherdson and I have been here in Lucban and it's a really cool city I realy think you would like it. The people are all pretty friendly, we spend a lot of time in Lucena with Elder Hansen on Pday so I really am only over there tuesday until sunday after church. The work is slowly moving. I've learned really so much about other people and although I am not the best at it..I've come to learn how to love most people and help them...I still got abit of an attitude problem ahah especially with tricycle drivers here that try to rip us off but I think I got that from you...I don't like people ripping me off...don't worry I'm not nearly as scary as you are in Best Buy when we fight about IPods...I love you Mom so much

May 23, 2011

Minamahal kong pamilya,

This week has been extremely interesting and a whole lot of fun. Elder Shepherdson and I have been working in Lucban and for some reason now it's ridiculously hot...then it rains...then it gets really cold...then it gets hotter than it's ever been..then it thunderstorms...then it rains...then it gets hot..I don't understand the weather here. The work here in Lucban has been interesting...I've been running into a ton of people that knew Sister Spjute and other missionaries here. Lucban is actually a pretty cool has amazing sunsets, awesome friendly people and the members here are great...we don't get fed too much that's why I always have to take out money to pay for how much my companion and I eat..sometimes it scares me..but I'm working out pretty consistently so no worries! I've really enjoyed being district leader again for the second time in my mission...I never thought I'd become it again but I've grown so much and changed since the last time I was nearly a year it's been really fun to see how much of a change I can do in my own district and help other missionaries here see their potential and I think I'm having a pretty good run at it...I have merely 8 weeks left and times running out like crazy, but elder sheps and I are having the times of our lives and I really love our companionship...we hang out with Elder hansen every pday in Lucena. I love that kid more and more every day I'm excited to see his Mom at my homecoming and even at the airport...speaking of which could you make an announcement on facebook that would be really fun to see thousands of people there (I'm being a bit presumptious haha)
We had a Stake Conference here in Lucena and I was able to see president the 2nd time in under a week it seems haha...I thought I'd only see that guy another two times...but now it's been like 4 or 5..I promise I'm not getting into any trouble haha..I've been a good little missionary. The other day while I was showering in our freezing shower, I looked out the window and I saw the tall coconut trees and the huge blue cloudy mountains in our backyard and I realize I've been living in paradise the last 2 years and it's good to be alive. I also had the spirit testify to me in those sacred few minutes that the Lord was happy of my work on my mission and I've felt really great since that day this week. I've worked really hard on my mission and I am considered by some to be a pretty obedient missionary..which means absolutely nothing...but I felt appreciated and I felt that my work here has not been a waste..I've grown so much and I've made so many life long friends...many of which will be at my home coming! President Anderson gave us a really good talk on not to judge and to learn to love and stop looking at peoples faults and weaknesses. I've set a few goals for myself and I'm come to know that it doesn't matter where people are coming from everyone can change and become better. I've come to learn how beautiufl people are and how much we need more to lift up opposed to break down.
It's really crazy how fast my time has gone here in the Philippines but it will be something I will always treasure, although it has it's problems like all nations and things, it's really hot, and my mission was riidculously changed me and made me what I am now and I am proud to be that person.

I love you all so very much! P.s. I hope you killed it in the golf tournament!