Monday, September 1, 2014

9.1.2014 Hello Loves!

Aloha to all my favorite people! I miss y'all a lot, but that's okay! :)

Mom and Dad and Alli and Tyler and Andrew:
Y'all are doing AWESOME missionary work! THAT IS SO COOL! I love love love that I have a chance to be doing missionary work right now and so do y'all! :) It makes me so happy. I'm so glad that you have had the opportunity to be the members present at the lessons. Mmmm, I just love y'all.

It's been a week. As in a doozy of a  week. But it's all good.

Miracle: On Tuesday we had a lunch appointment and afterward we were just tracting around. We had the feeling that we needed to stop at a lady named Tr*. I honestly can't remember if I've told you about her before, but that's okay. So we stopped by her house. We had seen her in the beginning of August and hadn't set up a specific return appointment with her, and we had been trying several times to get back in contact with her. So we just went to her house and she was home and graciously invited us in! So here's her back story. She was raised believing in God but was not a part of any specific religion. Her husband is an "inactive" muslim. They have two daughters, K* - 22 and J* - 11. About 4 years ago, K* joined the church. She was dating an LDS boy and he introduced her. So while K* was investigating, Tr* met with the missionaries as well and LOVED the Book of Mormon, the Church, the missionaries, EVERYTHING. Like she would have joined. Tr*'s sister even joined the church because she too was interested in what her niece was studying.  The only thing in Tr*'s way was her husband and younger daughter. She knew that joining the church would bring a heavy burden on her marriage and she didn't want to make J* choose what parent she would side with. So she just stopped. Well, we were talking to her on Tuesday and she says that she knows that the church is true and she just wishes she could be a part of it. {Pause: now I need to tell another back story. So our ward LOVES Tr*. There are many members who just love and admire her so much. They are friends with her and just enjoy being with her. So in our ward, we are doing something called set a date where the families choose a date to have people invited to listen to the missionaries in their homes. Well, interestingly enough 2 separate families both want to invite Tr* into their homes and several other members have referred us to her as well. Un Pause.} So we were talking to Tr* and we told her this. We told her that many ward members have been thinking and praying about her. We were able to testify that the Lord will provide a way for her and show her the path she should take. We testified and promised the blessings of joining the church. I'd love it if y'all would keep Tr* in your prayers because she needs strength and guidance right now. We love her.

I can testify that INVITATIONS is how this work starts and continues.

Here's the funniest story ever. We were out tracting (of course) and I was pretty tired and exhausted. So we knock on a door. And the guy answers it and LO AND BEHOLD IT IS MARK HEINER STANDING AT THE DOOR. Not really. But seriously it was Mark's twin. I even said, "Mark? What?" Like what in the world was Mark doing in Allen, TX? I stood there with my jaw just hanging because it honestly was such a shock. So Sister Aumua started the contact and I was eventually able to pipe in. Mark's twin and his friend weren't super interested, but they were kind. After we left, Sister Aumua asked what happened and I just told her that the dude at the door was basically identical twins to my cousin. So there's that.

Thursday we had a zone meeting and President Taylor and the Stake President, President Jones was also there. I was having a pretty rough time though. Like, being a missionary is hard business, you know. And I was forgetting to be grateful and thankful and life was just hard. So after the meeting President asked how I was doing and I just started crying. He offered to give me a blessing and it was just wonderful. I didn't tell him what exactly was going on, but in the prayer, I had EXACTLY the promises, promptings, and blessings that I need. That was definitely a testimony builder of the power of the priesthood and also the truthfulness of gospel. God lives and He loves us! It also seems like Doctrine and Covenants 84:88 is my scripture. There have been numerous occasions prompting me to rely on the Savior and those angels round about me bearing me up.

Thursday night we went less-active hunting. We invited one of the Laurel's in the ward to come with us. So we compiled a huge list and started driving around searching for people. It was SO SUCCESSFUL! We were able to have lessons with 4 people so I consider that a huge success! One of the families was even at church yesterday! After that, we had a sleep-over with Sister Parkinson and her new companion Sister Carlson. Don't worry, we had special permission to do this one time deal. It was so fun. We still followed all the rules and stuff, but oh boy we had fun. Popcorn and sour patch kids and chatting.

Poor Sister Aumua. Her bug bites and stuff are gone now, but now she has a STYE in her eye! So we've spent a couple hours at the eye doctor trying to get that figured out. Luckily there is an eye doctor that is a member, so he's been really great at helping us out! Turns out she gets to be on another anti-biotic to try to clear up this stuff in her eyeball. The poor thing. She also fell off her bike. Again.

I also tried kimchi at dinner last night. It was . . . interesting.

I have about 15 chigger bites. Let's just say I don't know how I got them and also that they hurt SO bad. But it's all good.

We met with S* and V* twice since I last wrote. They are wonderful people. They really just want to find the truth. They believe that their church is the true church, but they are more than willing to investigate and see the things that we have to offer. They are reading the Book of Mormon and accepted a baptismal date! Wow. It's so exciting!

We also had T* come to church again! I don't know if I talked about him before. But his parents are both less-active. He's 11 years old and hasn't been baptized. So we are meeting with him and working with him. His mom opened up and actually said that she was ready to start making a come back. I really hope and pray that she means that! T* also told us that he has been reading the Book of Mormon. This kid seriously just makes me so happy. And both of his parents came to church! That was wonderful! :)

Life is so good. It's hard, but it's good.

Riding my bike this morning, I was thinking about my "why." The "why" I'm on my mission and doing this crazy stuff. But I finally figured it out. It's because I KNOW that this is true. I KNOW the Book of Mormon is true and that it is God's word. I know that God loves us so much and that he never wants us to be confused or lost or lonely or wandering. He has provided us a marvelous way to know Him and of His truths. I'm on my mission because I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true church, and I am here to share the message of the Restoration of Jesus Christ's gospel with as many people as I can. I am so blessed that I have this opportunity.

I love y'all so much! I'm also sold on y'all. It's basically the best word. Y'all.

I love you so much. Continue to choose the right and be wonderful!

Much love,
Sister Gretchen Julie Gilbert

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