Sunday, October 29, 2017

Sunday talk "The Priesthood"

My name is Waldo Gonzalez, I was born in El Paso, Texas. But I was basically raised here in Glendale. I’ve lived roughly in the same neighborhood since I was 11 but I’ve only been in this Stake for about 4 or 5 years. I am 31 years old. And I am a single male that has never been married and aged out of the single’s ward.

Feel free to judge accordingly.

For those of you who remember me from when I was a kid, I kept all the good things you remember and the fun ones that were bad. And for those who don’t know me……. I like long walks on the beach and am a sucker for anything remotely funny.
I served a mission in Mexico City back in 2006. As any ex-missionary can tell you, it was the best two years of my life until I realized that looking back on it like that was unfair to everything that happened afterwards. I got some really good stories I can tell you, but almost none of them relate to what I need to talk to you today.
Two weeks ago, a member of the bishopric came up to me and asked me to talk about the priesthood. I asked him if he had anything particular he wanted me to talk about, but he said, “no, just make it about the priesthood”. And so with the very broad subject of “the priesthood”, I’m going to give a 10 minute rundown.

To begin with, what is the priesthood? We learn from scriptures that the priesthood is the power and authority of God by which he created and governs all creation.

What does that mean to us? He has bestowed this power to us so that we can aid in the salvation of our fellow brothers and sisters.

What can we expect out of it? Although it can be used to perform miracles where extreme circumstances required a direct action from our Heavenly Father, we are taught to use it for comparatively more mundane acts, but much add up to be more significant portions of our lives. We are taught that we are to use to govern our homes in righteousness, to bless the sick and the afflicted, and to guide back those who are lost. It is used to seal families together for all time and eternity and to baptize those who begin their spiritual journey back to celestial glory. We are to use to is to bring hope to the hopeless and comfort those who need succor. The priesthood is to be used, above all, for charity.

Back in my mission, we were given a scripture to memorize every month. Most of these scriptures were 1 to 3 verses long and honestly, I’ve forgotten every single one of them except for one. Moroni 7:40 to 48.
And again, my beloved brethren, I would speak unto you concerning hope. How is it that ye can attain unto faith, save ye shall have hope?
41 And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise.
42 Wherefore, if a man have faith he must needs have hope; for without faith there cannot be any hope.
43 And again, behold I say unto you that he cannot have faith and hope, save he shall be meek, and lowly of heart.
44 If so, his faith and hope is vain, for none is acceptable before God, save the meek and lowly in heart; and if a man be meek and lowly in heart, and confesses by the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ, he must needs have charity; for if he have not charity he is nothing; wherefore he must needs have charity.
45 And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
46 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—
47 But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.
48 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.

There’s a church by my house that for the longest time has had on its sign, “It isn’t what you do, but why you do it”. And ever since I saw it, it’s bugged me. Until one day I had a eureka moment. What bothered me about it is that it isn’t “It isn’t what you do, but why you do it”, but rather “What you do is as important as to WHY you do it.”

Brothers and sisters, the priesthood was restored to this earth 1829 in this dispensation so that we can do God’s will. The priesthood is meant to be used in our daily lives in righteousness and with charity.
We are to strive higher and higher, grace by grace until we become like unto Nephi in the book of Helaman.
5 And now, because thou hast done this with such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless thee forever; and I will make thee mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works; yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will.


Thursday, June 29, 2017

Focus and look straight forward

During the olden days of two thousand double-aught seven, I was a missionary in the ward of Lomas Lindas down in México. This was in the heart of México City and my companion was Elder Rodriguez. He was from some island in northern Veracruz or something. Anyways, this guy sold himself as being hard. He kept telling me about how he was all 'hood and his exploits on how he did everything his way. He was my junior companion.

Calm down ladies, notice the flip flops.

Anyways, this one time we have to do splits with our zone leaders. We agree on a place and time where we're going to meet up. And it all went downhill from there.

On that day, we arrive on where we're supposed to be, when we're supposed to and, the other Elders are late. This was back in 2007 and the only people who had cell phones were the zone leaders. We only had a prepaid phone card.

After a while we decide to call them, and they were stuck in traffic. Specifically, they were stuck behind a pilgrimage for La Virgen de Guadalupe and those guys were using the entire road. They were going to take maybe another hour and we had to wait for them. And we were to wait for them by a pedestrian bridge.

My companion, who legitimately thought he was an OG, decides that the best way to pass the time is to literally stare ahead. At what, who knows? And me, well, I had an hour to kill. My mind wandered.


A couple minutes go by, and this cop looking guy starts walking up to us. While he's getting closer we realize that he's yelling. And he's saying that he caught us looking up girls' skirts on the pedestrian bridge. And that's when my heart sank.

Then it jumped right back to where it was supposed to be because he's yelling at my companion! He's yelling at Mr. Mugshot for supposedly trying to be a pervert. Elder Felipe and I look at each other because we both know it was me who would've been the sketchy one of the two. I'm the one trying to see if my neck can turn around like an owl. We find out this guy is a private security guard, and he's trying to tell us that we're breaking municipal code such and such and we should follow him over to the "station". It was his car over in the parking lot.

It became clear pretty fast that this aspiring mall cop is just looking for a bribe, and so we start arguing with the one-shirt-size-too-small rent-a-cop. But then he calls the real cops on us. We sneak a call to the zone leaders and they're telling us, "don't pay anyone, we'll be there eventually". The situation is slowly escalating to the point that I know I'll have to call my Mission President and explain to him why my companion is in jail.

Fortunately, a member from the ward pulls up in the nick of time and starts berating the fake flatfoot with, "I'm a lawyer and I know these two and you will be fired from your job!" All of it lies. He had been to church maybe twice since I'd been there.

In the end, the sticky gumshoe gave up just as our zone leaders show up.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Day trippin' in Nogales, México

Last Saturday, I went on a fairly quick day trip with my parents and one of my aunts to Nogales. We had a really good time! We took off early in the morning in my truck because it's comfortable for long trips and they were paying for gas. There's only one drawback. IT'S HUGE. Roads down there are wide enough for 2 parking lanes and 3 driving lanes in a 3 lane, US sized road.

Ideally, try to take one of these.

Squeezing my 7 ft wide (with mirrors sticking out), 20 ft long truck into some of those parking spots made me wish I had a Toyota or something. Thankfully, for the most of the day, that was the only problem we had. We did some shopping, enjoyed some delicious food, and took in the sights and sounds. All the while I daydreamed about buying a cargo tricycle.

Don't judge, they're only $200

Anyways, the afternoon sun is starting to go down and my mom and aunt only have to go to one more store. I park the truck one street away from the main avenue and hang out with my understandably tired dad. We grab some chairs (my mom plans ahead) from the back of the truck and we chill in the shade.

I immediately realize something's off. This store where I had innocently parked in front of has these two people with walkies-talkies. Cars are driving up kinda slow to the store, one by one most of the time, where one of the attendants walks up for maybe a minute, goes inside, hand something to the driver and then the cars drive away. I quickly realized what's going on and decide that ignorance is the best option.

My dad.... was not so fast on the trigger. After reading his newspaper, my dad looks to me and not using his inside voice asks, "Hijo, why are all these cars driving by?" I try to scream at him with my eyes and tell him, "Don't ask, you'll be happier not knowing."

A couple more minutes go by and my dad asks me again in the same voice, "Hijo, why are those shoes hanging off the electrical wire?" I deduce that subtlety is not strong enough and quietly and lovingly tell him, "That store is selling drugs, don't say anything or we might get in trouble"

Have I said yet that before he asked me any of this, one of the cars had already stopped in front of us and had decided to ride the magic mountain? After maybe half an hour, I'm already getting antsy wondering what's taking my mom so long when a paletero walks down the street and tries to sell us some popsicles. We buy some, and then the guy notices what's going on too and he starts COMPLAINING about Mexico's drug problem at full blast!

Mexico is corrupt! Look at these drugs! Why can't they sell this crap away from the children?! What a waste! Drugs are the worst!

On and on he went while I started to wonder if I was going to die within half a mile of the border (also Scott, this was about when you called me). It was during this that my mom and my aunt showed up. My aunt immediately figured out what was going on and knew the procedure. Meanwhile, my mom is listening to this guy talk about how drugs are ruining the country's young, beautiful women. (also, mom, she was right behind me, I couldn't help but look when he pointed her out).

FINALLY, mom gets the hint and starts freaking out. "How could I subject my son to this?!", she asked, not realizing I'm 30 and have already been to shady places. She shoves us into the truck and keeps talking about how embarrassed she feels for having done that me. Meanwhile, I had already been there for over an hour and was positive that some of the clients thought my dad and I worked there.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Why I believe in God

Back in September, I gave a talk in Church. And some members told me they liked it. So, in following in the proud tradition of posting my talks, here are the notes that I used that day.

Who is God?
-          He is my Heavenly Father
o   I am His child
-          He’s not incomprehensible
o         We can come to know and understand Him.
o   He’s willing to teach us, if we’ll listen
§  Exodus 4:12 Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.
o   Just because we don’t understand now, doesn’t mean we won’t.
-          He is a perfect being
o   He knows a lot more about a lot more things than I do
o   He has given us our agency
o   He has perfect plan
o   D&C 101: 16
§  … for all flesh is in mine hands; be still and know that I am God.

Before I get too far ahead. It’s nigh near impossible to talk about God without mentioning faith. So this is my take on it:
-          It’s ok to doubt every once in awhile. We ARE human and we don’t have a perfect knowledge about just about anything. Many things happen to us that cause us to pause in life and wonder about things. It can be little things or big things, things that someone might say or do.
-          It all depends on what we do with it. Do we use it as an opportunity to learn something new or shrink from it? More often than not, we come out a little stronger for it. We’ve all probably have gone through it once or twice before. None of us is perfect. And we as imperfect beings tend to have a short memory.
-          So here’s my advice; remember. Remember the times you have already overcome another doubt. Remember the times you have received a promise and its reward. Remember the things your faith has already got you through and trust in yourself, and your faith that it’ll carry you through this time. God is there, He knows us by name, and He is waiting for us.

What is His purpose for us?
-          According to His plan, we’re to come to this earth to learn, be tested and find joy.
o   Sometimes it feels like we got stuck on “be tested”. We’ll sometimes feel like all we do is seem to be stuck in sorrow, a trial, a tribulation, a doubt or a pain. And we’ll cry out
o   D&C 121:1, 7-9
§  O God, where art thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place?
-          I believe this is normal for us mortals. Again, because we’re mortal and have a short memory. We tend to look on these things, which can truly be big deals, as the end, or even worse, the beginning of a horrible time in our lives. Prophets and other people with great faith have wondered the same thing! But, it all depends on what we do with this hardship. I believe in a God of mercy, compassion, and who knows each and every one of us. A God that can see the possibilities of our lives and who genuinely wants us to succeed. I believe in a God that has an eternal perspective on our daily and long term troubles and knows that these things too, shall pass.
§  My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;…  And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes. Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands.
And armed with this knowledge, I know there to be a God.
How did I come to believe in God?
At first it was because my parents told me so.
-          I, having been born of goodly parents.
And then it was because I believed it too.
-          How I came about to wanting to go on a mission
-          Stopped from getting a certain electrician job
o   Coworkers who were good influences
Finally, I knew it for myself.
-          Read book of Mormon
-          Saw changes in people’s faces
-          I've gotten to know my Heavenly Father in a way that I know that he expects so much of us. He expects what, by ourselves, is impossible. We are such fragile creatures. And through it all, our doubts, our trials, and our many opportunities to fail, He will be there to love, encourage and help us.
Moses 1:39
For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Alcohol poisoning.

During my mission in Mexico, I got to meet a lot of people. I mean, a LOT. Here's a story of one of them, who was drunk. AND. HE. LOVED. TALKING. TO. US.

The first time I met him, I was brand new to my area and my mission. My companion and I were covering opposite sides of the street looking for doors to knock on when this guy saw me at around 4:00 P.M.(foreshadowing) and immediately wanted to talk to me. After a full afternoon of people shutting their doors on me, this guy seemed awesome!

My Spidey-sense had not fully developed yet

I, being a greenie, enthusiastically called out to my companion so he can also meet my brand new friend. My companion was signalling me to walk away. But how could I walk away form this friendly investigator, who undoubtedly is golden?

Turns out this guy was wasted beyond belief. He was the neighborhood drunk. And he was drunk nearly 24/7. AND he wanted to have a prayer with us...

Anyway, Drunky, as he was called by us, was convinced that he should be the one praying, as we had no idea what... a drunk guy would pray about.

Not the same guy

So imagine this in your head, two missionaries and a drunk guy by the side of a busy road standing in a circle getting ready to pray. Yes, he was screaming at the top of his lungs, and also, when in caps, he was throwing his head back.

Lord!... you have taken, my BROTHEEER!!!!

today!... is his FUNERAAAALLL!!!!

He's being buried.... at THREE!!!!

Isn't it...? 
why did you... TAKE HIM?!?!?!


We never knew if there really was a funeral because most of the time, he didn't know what day it was and he never mentioned it again the many, many times we saw him afterwards. But, as we walked away that first time, my companion gave me this look of "and now you know".

Monday, November 2, 2015

Death Metal Spiders

Nightmares, by definition, are scary things. They can be brought around by sleep disorders, anxiety or stress. But every once in a while, they can be absolutely hilarious.

This one time, my roommates and I were all at home. One of them decided to call it an early night because he had started a new job and there was much to get used to there, the other one was in his room studying because everyone needs a hobby and I was in the living room playing some GTA V because... it's a good game. Anyways, it was an incredibly quiet evening, nothing out of the normal.

Out of nowhere, the sleeping one comes out of his room with bloodshot eyes and YELLING...

What follows it the conversation we had;

He comes into the living room and immediately starts asking me, "Did you put that in my room?!"

I decided that it behooved me that I hit pause.

I ask him, "Put what in your room?"

He points at the lit candle in the living room. "Did you put that at the foot of my bed?"

 To be fair, I'm capable of doing many things, but arson isn't one of them.

"Why would I put a candle on your bed?"

"The fire! No, I mean, did you put the spiders on my bed?"

"What spiders?"

"The metal spiders, did you put the metal spiders at the foot of my bed?" 

A legitimate fear.

It is at this point that I realize that this wasn't my fault.
"No dude, I wouldn't put metal spiders on your bed" - A phrase I never thought I'd say.
It's a this point that he finally blinks and kinda regains consciousness. He looks at me with newfound realization at what has been said. We look at each other for maybe 10 seconds.
Finally he mutters, "I must be really tired, I'm going back to bed." 


Sunday, August 10, 2014

It's not a tumah!

There's a song from the 90's called 'Everybody's Free(To Wear Sunscreen)' and there's a part that says,  "The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday." I found out this weekend that that is pretty true.


This last Thursday while driving home from work a little after 5pm, I get a call from my brother asking if I could give him a blessing. He's been ordered to go to the hospital by his doctor. He has to go, right now. He had just had an MRI done and they found a mass in his head.
You know, nothing prepares you for the absolute flooring that hits you. You almost want time to stop right then and there. You almost step aside from yourself. What kind of mass? What does this mean? This is something that happens to other people. What do you do with something like this? What do you do?
You want answers, but none are to be had. You want comfort, but you're not the one who needs it the most right now. You want it to go away, but it's all too real. You want light, but all you see now is the darkness ahead...
But then I looked around me, and I found that I could see my family. Within two hours, we joined together so we could pray. We were together as one. We had love. We had each other.


The next day, for me was a mess. I, for some reason, went to work. What else was I going to do all day? I'm miserable, so I might as well be miserable at work! I regretted my decision almost immediately. As the day dragged on, I found myself doing my work, but inside I kept thinking; 'They're doing the surgery today.' I found myself making jokes and laughing, but I wasn't there; 'They're going to be digging into his brain!'
Soon after work, I found myself at St Joseph's Hospital's waiting room with my sister in law. It was soon about 8:30pm and my brother was in his sixth hour of the operation when the surgeon came out. Everything came and went as best as they could hope for! The tumor was benign and in the best possible place for them to operate. A weight had been lifted off our shoulders!
We were allowed to wait for him in his room. We couldn't wait to see him! We were tired but now the worst was over. We were going to get him back... alive too!
My brother has always had a funny side to him. And he hadn't lost it when he came out of surgery. And as an aside, if you ever get the chance, be with someone when they come out of anesthesia. Within 3 hours, he was wanting to get up and walk around. Within 5, the nurse let him. Within 8 hours, he wanted to eat. And within 12, they were getting ready to let him out of the ICU. We were witnessing a miracle.


Originally, they we talking about keeping my brother until at least Tuesday, maybe Thursday. But as Saturday went on, the doctors and staff became more and more confident that it wouldn't be necessary. They were amazed at his progress. Everything that could possibly go right, was.


And so, on Sunday afternoon, about 72 hours after he got the news that he had a tumor, my brother got discharged from St Joseph's hospital. Tired, and looking worse for the wear, but he got to go home to his wife and kids. There's a lot more for him to get through before this is over, but we're looking back at this with gratitude in our hearts.
We were blessed. We were blessed to be sent to one of the best hospitals in the U.S. that specializes in brain surgery, we were blessed to be surrounded by amazing doctors, nurses, staff and friends. We were blessed that the tumor he got was the best possible kind(as far as tumor's go).
And we are blessed that we have each other.