Wow i love you all so much. I don't even know where to begin. I read the sweet words and emails that you all sent me and I'm just sitting her crying because I am so happy to hear from all of you. My heart is bursting a little bit to be honest.
It has been literally the longest week of my entire life. I wish I had 17 hours to write a book about everything that has happened, but unfortunately, I do not. And I'm weeping a little bit because of that. Honestly.
After the longest day ever in the airport we finally made it to Dallas, Texas at (central time? i have no idea. whatever time zone they are on here). Our 3 o clock emergency flight was delayed until 4. But the most amazing part was that Elder Truman in our travel group was able to place a Book of Mormon! It was truly a miracle and it made waiting around in the airport all day manageable. Also, airplanes are like so uncomfortable. Seriously. No leg room and no sleeping unless you like laying on strangers which is basically a big no no as a missionary. Haha. I hope that is as funny to you as it is to me. So Andrew, you aren't missing out on much.
But we made it. We met the Assistants, Elders Williams and Larsen, and Pres. and Sis. Taylor. Wonderful people. We went to their home and had a delicious dinner from Boston Market and talked about being one with each other. That is basically our big goal out here. Be One with the Lord, Ourselves, the Work, Companion, and something else. Just we are all unified and we are all in this together. It's really cool. There is a video called "We Are One." You should try to find it. It's wonderful.
So I spent the night at these two random Sisters' apartment then back to the church for more training. We went to the temple and discussed how our goal is to get people to the temple and that is made possible through baptism.
Then, I got my companion! Sister Aumua (Ow-Moo-Ah) from . . . . . HAWAII!! Yes yes it is wonderful. She is from Oahu, lived in Kalihi and attended BYU Hawaii this past year. She is amazing. Very laid back. But yeah. I told her that Dad served his mission in Hawaii. Sister Aumua wants to know if you perhaps know her auntie. She is Bae Aumua married to Roy Aumua. But Sister Aumua is originally from Samoa and she has lived in Hawaii since she was 8. She has been out for 6 months and previously served in Carrollton. This is her first time training so we are both in this together. A double transfer into a ward and training.
So I will be serving in the Allen 1st ward. Allen is a wealthy city just north (maybe??) of Dallas. And here's the clencher. I'm on a bike. Yes, you heard that correctly. Bike. Skirt. July. 100 degrees. Dream life?? Haha. The Allen Zone is the only zone in the mission that sisters ride bicycles so that is basically hilarious. But good news. The ward is wonderful and I don't have to buy a bike! I just bought a helmet and a cushion for my seat because I am soooooo sadle sore from that darn bike. Haha. I just waddle around all the days because I am in so much pain. Also, the ward hasn't had sisters in over 10 years. So basically they are all pumped to have us here. Hopefully we can keep that enthusiasm going strong.
But good news, Sister Parkinson is in my district!! Hollah!! We are so happy. That means we basically get to see each other 3-4 times a week and it just makes me so happy. Sister Parkinson's trainer, Sister Gavin, trained Sister Aumua. So that's pretty fun to see.
NEWS FLASH: the MTC was paradise and now I'm basically at boot camp. Ha. But really. This real life missionary work stuff is HARD business. Day one, tracting for like 4 hours. Tracting is weird. I just have to keep laughing or else I will usually start crying. So yeah. I'm okay, it's just like impossibly hard and discouraging. But I think it has potential. Also, talking to EVERYONE is awkward. But such is the life of a missionary.
Since we both transferred, there was like NO food in our apartment. Elders had lived there before, but there was nothing. Sowe had interviews with the president. We brought cereal and milk to eat because there was LITERALLY nothing else to eat. But now we have been able to go to the grocery store and buy food. Yay. A really nice lady from the ward, Sister Morell, took us to Walmart today. She surprised us and bought a bunch of produce (mangoes, peaches, blueberries, grapes, bananas (ew)) for us so that was really great. Speaking of bananas, Sister Aumua can't believe that I don't like bananas. HAHAHAHAHA. Yeah. They are gross.
Funny story, I had to teach Sister Aumua how to ride a bike. Imagine learning how to ride a bike for the first time, but do it while wearing a skirt. Hahaha. Good times in the mission.
Some of the days are so hard. When people are just slamming their doors on us, I get so sad. But when we are finally able to talk to someone and share a brief message with them, it makes life a little better. We only have 2 investigators that the elders transferred over to us, so we are trying to build up our teaching pool and helping our currents progress. It's hard and I am so clueless. Honestly, I don't even know what life is. But it's okay.
Another funny story: out tracting, and I introduce my self to a man. "Hi, I'm Sister Gilbert." He goes: "Gilbert? That's an unusually first name for a girl." I was DYING. All my years of accidentally writing Gilbert Gilbert on my tithing slips are catching up to me.
We met this nice lady named B*. She's probably 70 years old. She just moved to Allen a year ago and 6 days after they moved in, her husband passed away. She's pretty lonely so we got to chat with her for a while. She told us for her master's thesis, she studied the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the history of our hymns. It was really cool. She knew WAY more about our hymns than I do.
At church yesterday, the Bishop of our ward, Bishop Christiansen, wanted us to speak so the ward could get to know us. He told me to just give my farewell talk since it had only been 3 weeks since I gave it. It was funny. For some reason, it's easier to give a talk to a congregation of strangers than to a chapel packed full of your favorite people. But it's all good. It was a mission farewell also, so it was fun to have missionaries speaking with a soon to be missionary.
There is so much to share, yet sadly so little time. I love you all so much and I am incredibly grateful for EACH AND EVERYONE OF YOU. Life is so good.
The ward here is great. We have a dinner appointment every night and that is a blessing. It is so fun to get to know all of them.
Bishop Christiansen challenged our ward yesterday to look for a miracle and a laugh from everyday to put in your journal. I challenge y'all to do it too! It makes such a big difference.
My address is 1420 W McDermott #1033 Allen, TX 75013.
I love you so much.
Sister Gretchen Julie Gilbert