Tuesday, December 30, 2014


Hi there Family and Friends, I hope you all had a Merry Christmas!  I had a great Christmas, but it was more of the Christmas Season, rather than the day, that impacted my mind. 

Now if you'll bear with me for a moment, I want to talk about the movie Holes.

In the movie Holes, and I will only talk about the movie and not the book because I never bothered to read it, there is a flashback in which we see the quaint town of Greenlake.  This whole flashback focuses on Kate Barlow, but I would like to focus my attention on Sam, the onion farmer.  At various points in the flashback Kate has a series of problems, and when she brings them up to Sam he simply replies, "I can fix that".  Now this short reply shows a great capacity in Sam to serve without any thought for himself.

Now a short story from this Christmas Season (this will all make sense at the end, just wait).  Elder Ayre and I were off to try and teach a lesson to a great young man, unfortunately he was sleeping.  Sure it was 2:30 in the afternoon, but we've all slept in like that before.  We managed to meet with his lovely mother for a while.  I had noticed when we walked in their house that her front door was broken and wasn't working properly.  After sharing a short message and agreeing to come back in a couple days I informed her that I could fix her door for her if she wanted.  She asked if I was sure that I was willing to do that.  I told her that I was more than happy to do so, I felt that fixing her door would be a great Christmas present to her.  After a few days we swung by her house again and I brought a nice new lock set.  I proceeded to dismantle her lock and inspect the damage.  There wasn't much wrong with it and it was a quick fix.  After 30 minutes of tinkering with the door (because I had to adjust the openings on the door MacGyver style), she had a brand new lock and a door handle that actually worked.  Unfortunately we had to run to another appointment, but before we left she informed me that her door had been in that condition for months now, and nobody had offered to fix it until I came along. 
Fixing a door is a small thing for me, I've done it plenty of times.  But that skill that I had gained previously came in handy on my mission.  Never would I have thought that I would fix a door and a lock set on my mission.  But this small gesture seemed to help this wonderfully sweet woman in this Christmas Season. 
Although it was a small gesture a talk by Neil A. Maxwell in the 1998 October General Conference brought to light how these small acts of service are sometimes all that is needed of us, and are able to bring greater blessings in the future.

"We may not be able to fix the whole world, but we can strive to fix what may be amiss in our own families."
Immediately after this quote Neil A. Maxwell shows his great taste in literature by citing J.R.R. Tolkien's book The Return of the King:
"It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule"
This woman isn't a member of my earthly family, but we are all God's Children.  And as both Elder Maxwell and Tolkien expressed the importance of fixing what we can, where we are.  We can't always fix everything, but we can do our best to fix what we can because doing our best is always an option.  I'm not able to fix all of this lady's problems, nor will I ever be able to.  But I was able to fix what I could with the time I had.  

This Christmas, and probably for the first time in my life, I had that serving attitude throughout the entire season.  I was filled with joy and love for this lady as I finished fixing her door and left with a smile on my face.  And I've been filled with joy by telling people that, in regards to our sins and sorrows, the Savior is always standing by telling us "I can fix that". 
Let us all do what we can, where we are, to serve those around us.  And for those things that we can't fix, help them turn to the Savior.
I love you all, take care and have a happy New Year. 
--Elder Gailey

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Card Fun

My first attempt to make and mail Christmas cards from Utica New York mission!

Not bad for a youngster!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Life of a Tree - Merry Christmas

Hello Everyone, I hope you had a great week.  I know I did, but my week's happenings aren't the purpose of this post.  This week I'd like to talk about the life of a tree for a while.  

I was inspired this week in my Book of Mormon studies to bring up the oft told story in Alma 32 of likening our faith unto a seed.  I've read this passage many times, but something within me says I need to share my insights and feelings on this great parable.  I've taken time to split the life of a tree into 5 parts.  As you read, look inward and see where you land in the life of a tree.  

Part 1: A Seed is Planted 

Lets ponder on what seeds do.  By themselves they do nothing.  Given no water, soil, or sunshine a seed will not grow but will lay dormant.  These seeds will lay dormant until given soil to lay in.  Alma tells us that our hearts are the soil for faith, like true soil is for a seed.  Once you plant the seed, then miraculous changes can happen.  But these miracles of faith won't happen by themselves, just as a seed won't grow to it's full potential just by being placed in dirt and left alone.  

Our faith, like a seed, must be nurtured diligently.  A seed requires regular water and good soil to begin to grow.  Faith requires spiritual nourishment.  By reading from the scriptures and praying to our father in heaven we give the seed of faith what it needs to grow.  

The key to growth in a seed and in faith is diligence.  Watering a seed once when you first plant it will not ensure it's success, just as reading in the scriptures once will not set you for salvation.  It takes daily nourishment for a seed to grow.  And if your faith is like a dormant seed, those consistent acts of spiritual nourishment will serve as the foundation for the great things that are to come.  Take care with this seed of faith, a seed that has not sprouted is vulnerable and has no root, you must actively strengthen it.  

Having planted a seed once I know that they are notorious for growing at their own pace, and no amount of sternly staring at a bit of dirt will make that seed grow any faster.  A seed will take it's time to grow and become strong.  Do not be disheartened if your faith hasn't grown or if you don't see the blessings yet.  As with planting a seed, the blessings come later, after diligent work has been put in.  

Part 2: The Seed Sprouts

As you nourish your faith like you would nourish a seed, you will come to notice that "the seed is good; for behold it swelleth, and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow." (Alma 32:30)

If a seed is good it will begin to grow.  A sprouted seed has finally surfaced and has taken a little root. But this doesn't mean that your job of caring for the seed is over, a sprout, like a seed, is still vulnerable and great care must be taken.

"But if ye neglect the tree, and take no thought for its nourishment, behold it will not get any root; and when the heat of the sun cometh and scorcheth it, because it hath no root it withers away".(Alma 32:38)

Do not neglect your faith.  When your faith grows, you will notice the comfort and peace that come from Christ and his teachings.  But now that you can see the seed growing, you know the seed is good.  With that assurance that the seed is good, you can now move forward in faith and have your sprouting faith grow in strength.  

Part 3: A Sapling Comes Forth

Sweet, now your seed has turned into a little sapling.  The sapling has taken greater root and grown in strength, and now isn't as vulnerable to strong winds, summer heat, or clumsy hikers that run into it.  

If your faith is like a sapling, you have seen some of the benefits that come from this gospel, you know that this is good, but you have not yet come to see all the blessings that come from living in line with Christ's teachings.

Just as in the previous parts of a seeds life, that constant nourishment is what is going to result in a full grown tree or an unshakable faith in Christ.  Now you can see that this tree has great potential.  When it was a seed or a sprout it didn't appear to have any characteristics of strength or power, but now as a sapling you can look forward to greater blessings if continued care is taken.  

"But if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root;and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life." (Alma 32:41)

Part 4: A Tree Takes Root

And now the moment you've been waiting and working so diligently for.  Your sapling of faith has grown under your care and nourishment and now it is time to harvest the fruits of your work.  A full tree is steadfast and unshakable.  It has that complex, strong, and fortified root system to bear the weight of the world.  Your tree of faith has reached maturity, and now it is ready to bring forth the fruit of your tree.  And when "ye shall pluck the fruit thereof, which ismost precious, which is sweet above all that is sweet".  Now that you have been diligent in your faith and consistent in nourishing what started out as a simple seed, you can now see the true potential of the tree you planted long ago.  

Alma promises us at the end of the chapter that "ye shall reap the rewards of your faith, and your diligence, and patience, and long-suffering, waiting for the tree to bring forth fruit unto you."  All of the blessings of Heavenly Father and Christ are available to those who diligently act in faith.  

Part 5: Tree Care

Now this is the end of Alma's teaching and the beginning of my advice.  

Your tree is now fully grown, but your work is not done, not by a long shot.  No farmer I have ever met has harvested once from a vine or a tree and then stopped caring for it.  The tree has so much more to give than just one harvest.  Likewise the blessings of a solid faith in Christ aren't noticed or given at one time.  

We must all constantly care for our tree, whether it is fully grown or a seedling.  Take care to prune your faith of any doubts, prideful habits, or stumbling blocks.  What kills a grown tree won't be a  bump from an animal or a gust of wind, but a more subtle disease.  Take care to look inward regularly and check yourself to see if you are honestly in line with all of the Saviors teachings.  If you aren't, do not be discouraged, this is the point of repentance and the Atonement.  I exhort you to rid yourself of all ungodliness, even if it is a only slight problem.  Careful pruning and maintenance of faith will guarantee many harvests in this life and in the eternities.  

There is another bit of advice I would give to anyone who believes themselves to have a solid tree of faith.  Spread the gospel.  Just as a tree grows to maturity and spreads it's seeds around, so must we spread this gospel.  Spread the gospel by planting those seeds of faith, no matter how small, and by nourishing others as they grow.  A tree does not grow old so it can be strong by itself.  A tree grows old so that it can create a forest around it.  

In summation: 

To those of you with a seed of faith: Nurture it consistently and carefully, you will see it grow as you do.  The blessings and knowledge will come.  Maybe not today, or next week, but I promise you with every fiber of my being that they will come.  

To those of you with a mighty tree of faith and a sure foundation: Continue nurturing and pruning your faith, and do not fear to spread the seeds of the gospel.  None of us are perfect, and we all can use extra faith and joy in our lives.  This message was to be shared to the whole world.   

I understand this blog post isn't easily related to Christmas, unless your tree of faith is a pine tree.  But it's my goal to strengthen someone through my weekly posts, and having been prompted the whole week on this subject there must be someone out there who needs it.  I pray that it finds you.  

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Love, Elder Gailey

Monday, December 15, 2014

Good Tidings of Great Joy

"And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, bring you good tidings of great joywhich shall be to all people." (Luke 2:10)

This Christmas season I want to bring to light a section of the Nativity story that has stood out to me this year.  While reading the Nativity story this week as I was getting into the Christmas spirit I found that verse 10 meant more to me this year than in previous years. 

When previously reading this verse in the Nativity I would read the first few lines of the angel's message, but I would subconsciously leave out the part that says that Christ's birth would "be to all people."  I understood that the birth of Christ was a monumental event in the history of the world, and that it was a time to rejoice.  But I didn't understand the scale of Christ's blessings upon mankind.

Since I grew up in the Church, I always knew that Christ was there for me, and that repentance was always an option.  I didn't understand that those "good tidings of great joy" that our Savior brought into our lives weren't known by all people. 

Being a missionary effectively means I teach people all day.  To teach all people that I come in contact with how they can grow closer to their Savior and have everlasting happiness.  The more I teach and watch people grow and change as they work towards becoming more Christ-like, the more I understand the monumental scale of Christ's life and work.  With each person I meet and teach, I grow to understand how Christ can influence their lives and bring about a great change in them. 

My challenge to you this Christmas season is to help spread these good tidings in other people's lives through acts of Christ-like love.  Have a goal to show one act of kindness and love each day until the New Year rolls around.  Many opportunities to show our love and care for those around us pass us by because we aren't looking for them.  Look for those opportunities, and take advantage of them when they appear.

It's my promise to you that as you develop greater Christ-like love through service, you will come to understand the many tender mercies of God.  You will feel more love from our Father in Heaven, and will become an instrument in his hands to change people's lives.  

Merry Christmas Everybody, I miss you all. 
-Elder Gailey

Monday, December 8, 2014

Whistle why you WORK

So to all my family and friends,I want to share a quote that is well loved by everybody in the New York Utica Mission, and probably by missionaries all around the world.  In the NYU Mission we repeat this quote as a group at every training or meeting where President Wirthlin will be teaching us.  The quote can be found in Preach My Gospel Chapter 6 under the section called Diligence.  

“I have often said one of the greatest secrets of missionary work is work! If a missionary works, he will get the Spirit; if he gets the Spirit, he will teach by the Spirit; and if he teaches by the Spirit, he will touch the hearts of the people and he will be happy. There will be no homesickness, no worrying about families, for all time and talents and interests are centered on the work of the ministry. Work, work, work—there is no satisfactory substitute, especially in missionary work.”
–President Ezra Taft Benson

This quote by President Benson is truly inspired because every part of it is true, and I've seen the blessings from it in my own short time in Fonda.  My trainer, Elder Ayre, has taken this quote to heart and makes sure that we work all day.  But not just grunt work that is incredibly boring.  We work hard, we work smart, and we work consistently.  By working in those manners you can achieve miracles in anything you set your mind to.

There are two parts in that quote that I love, the first being that if you work "there will be no homesickness, [and] no worrying about families".  It's hard leaving your family behind on your mission, I'm not going to sugar-coat it.  Saying goodbye for the last time was rough.  But I have started to lose myself in this work, and because of that I don't feel homesick.  I love my family with all my heart, and I miss them more than they know, but it does not distract me because I have work to be doing.  I do not worry about my families well-being or health because I know they are being taken care of while I'm away.  The people that I need to worry about and care for are out here in upstate New York.

The second part I love is at the very end, and is that "there is no satisfactory substitute" for work.  If you want to learn to shred on guitar, rebuild old cars, or get a promotion, you have to work.  It doesn't matter how gifted you are in an area of your life, you only become great through working.  The same is true, as President Benson said, "especially in missionary work" and also in spiritual things.  If you do not work to grow your testimony or faith in Christ, you will not progress in this life. 
Remember the parable of the talents in Matthew 25.

14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. 
15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.

16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made themother five talents.

17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.

18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.

The Lord has given each of us talents, some more than others.  The servants who were given five and two talents took what they were given, and then worked.  They showed their gratefulness by increasing their worth and potential.  But the servant who had one did not work, and hid the gift he was given.

It is my hope that this week you will look at your talents, physical and spiritual, and see if you have put in the work to show your appreciation for Him who has given them to you.
Have a wonderful week everybody.

Love, Elder Gailey

Monday, December 1, 2014

Ice Cream, Friends and The Holy Spirit

I'm a little behind the ball, I planned to do a Thanksgiving post last week but as you might know that didn't happen.  Things were too out of control and too busy.  So now is the time to be thankful for relaxed Preparation Days.  

I'm going to write a short story on something I am grateful for this week in particular; the Holy Ghost 

This story actually comes from yesterday, so I'm a little glad I missed writing this post last week.  Elder Ayre and I were about to try some potentials in Fonda last night.  It was about 7:00 and was dark -- it gets dark at 4:30 PM here for whatever reason -- and it was a little chilly.  We were walking up to a potential investigator's house and while we were walking we saw that they had company over.  We kept walking past their house, not sure of what to do.  We stopped on a street corner and talked for a while wondering what we should do.  This was our last potential for the night, and we had nowhere else to go.  It had been a long day, and we were tired and cold.  We reasoned that maybe we should go back home and study or prepare for the next day.  We stood out in the cold for a while longer when I decided to pray.  It was a short prayer, and all I asked for was the knowledge to know what to do so we can bless this families life.  After I said my prayer we stood a while more in the cold.  All of a sudden I felt that we should go knock on the door.  The thought never wanted to leave my mind.  I informed my companion that we should do that, and he agreed.  We knocked on their door and were graciously welcomed in and told to warm up a little bit.  We were given cake and ice cream as it was one of the little daughters birthdays and were introduced as the families 'Mormon Friends'.  After talking for a while and checking up on the family we left feeling that we had made the best choice possible.  We didn't baptize them or give them a life-changing experience, but we did give them something very important.  We gave them two friends.  And sometimes that's all people need at that time.  The Holy Ghost blessed me with assurance to know what to do when we were struggling with a choice, and I am grateful for the lesson that I learned last night.  In my journal I wrote to my future self saying 

"Future Elder Gailey, you should follow the Holy Ghost's guidance for two reasons: 

1. By doing so you bring yourself and potentially others closer to Jesus Christ
2. There might be free ice cream inside that door"

Now obviously the first reason is the most important, but let's be honest, cake and ice cream are awesome.  But this simple lesson gave me great assurance that following the Holy Ghost will further missionary work more than human knowledge and willpower ever can.  It is my hope that each of you will learn to recognize and heed the Holy Ghost's promptings, they will not only bless you, but have the ability to bless those around you in ways you could not even imagine.  

The prophet Nephi gave this council concerning the Holy Ghost in 2 Nephi 32:5.

"For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the 
Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do."

For those of us who have been blessed to have the gift of the Holy Ghost, we are also entitled to the blessings of guidance and knowledge based upon our faith and worthiness.  It's my promise to each person that as you stay worthy of this great gift, and you will never be lead astray.  

I love you all and hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Talk to you next week!

Love, Elder Gailey