Thursday, October 30, 2014

10.27.2014 A lovely week in Gilmer

Well, it's been another week of miracles in the good old Gilmer.

Monday Miracle: we were able to go shopping and spend time with a less active in the ward. We went to this little second hand store called Elite Repeat. It's like Plato's Closet. Well, a member worked there who has a daughter on a mission! So she bought Sister Christopherson and I scarves. That was really cool! Also, the less active bought me an elephant scarf! I'm feeling mighty spoiled.

Tuesday Miracle: We did service for a LONG time helping a pregnant ward member unpack her new house and deep clean the new house. There was a lot of work to do. I scrubbed blinds for EVER. But then Tuesday night we found a less active and had a great chat with her! She has a busy life as a single mom with 5 kids, but she was really sweet. Then we finished the night up with a great meeting with Br and Ra. We had a great discussion about how God is our loving Heavenly Father. Then we all wrote down things we are grateful for. I even suggested that they make a grateful picture. To write down all the things they are grateful for with a picture of their family in the middle. :)

Wednesday Miracle: Wednesdays are always really busy. But we went to visit Da (a less active). She has a five week old baby and her mother who has been staying with her since the baby was born just left. So needless to say, Da was pretty stressed and had a lot on her plate. We did her dishes, vacuumed, and cleaned up. She didn't say much, but we know that it meant a lot to her. Also, we had an appointment with Sister Du and brought her visiting teacher, Sister Di to come with us. Turns out, visiting teaching is inspired! They were a perfect fit and were really able to support and lift each other up.

Thursday Miracle: we went down to Big Sandy to contact a referral the elders had gotten from The Yamboree. We got over there and there were 5 mailboxes in a row, and 5 houses, but we couldn't tell which belonged to which. so we knocked on a door, turns out that house is abandoned. Next house: nice lady who didn't know the family we were looking for. BUT she was interested in the church! and we have an appointment with her later this week! So we kept knocking doors, and we found the referral! Sweet newly-weds who are interested in learning more. The husband is from Utah actually. So we have an appointment this week. After this point, we were hungry and tired, but we decided to knock doors for a while, because we aren't in that area very often. So, we knock on the next house, and no on is home, so we go back to the walk to go to the next house. But then we see the people sitting in their back yard. Sister Christopherson called out to them and said, "can we come talk to you?" We went on back, talked about their lives and Texas and stuff and then the husband asked, "so what do you believe?" we were able to give the first lesson. It was amazing and they asked a bunch of questions. They are interested in learning more!! So that's pretty cool.

Friday to Saturday just consisted of lots of inspired stop by's with less actives! The Lord is preparing his people! He's waiting and helping people return back to the fold. How blessed I feel to be able to participate in this great work.

Do you remember Ja who I talked about a while ago? He's the grandson of some less-actives we are working with. Any way, he asked us if he could be baptized before Sister Christopherson goes home! So we are going to work really really hard with him to see if we can get him prepared by Nov. 8. If not, it will still be okay and he will get baptized soon, but that is definitely something we could use prayers for!

Alma 36 is a pretty amazing chapter all about the atonement and change. As we put our Trust in God, we will be supported and lifted up at the last day. We must trust in the Lord with all our heart and lean not to our own understandings. Christ will deliver us from sin and heartache. Alma 36:20 says, "and oh, what joy and what marvelous light I did behold." Come unto Christ.

President Uchtdorf says, "Those who set aside the bottle of bitterness and lift instead the goblet of gratitude can find a purifying drink of healing, peace, and understanding." I invite you to lift the goblet of gratitude this week.

I love you all so much! Have a blessed week!

Love, Sister Gilbert

Monday, October 20, 2014

10.20.2014 We go after the one . . .

Hello again! 
It has been another busy, unusual week! 

Monday: We had a nice preparation day. Besides the power being out until 11 at night. Brother SH (whose house we live in) hooked up the generator so we could take a nice cold shower! Brr. But we did have a good lesson with TAand JI (the people we met on my first night here). We taught about the Restoration. I still feel like I'm not a very good teacher, but I guess that will come with experience.

Tuesday: We went to Dallas. Again. Haha. Since Sister Christopherson is going home at the end of this transfer and the temple will be closed when she leaves, President Taylor invited all the departing missionaries to go do a session at the temple. So I went on a baby exchange again with Sister Gavin. That was fun. Again. Haha. We got home late at night and golly gee I was so tired. Will I ever be not tired? Probably not. 

Wednesday: Great meeting with Sister Duvall in the morning. We were short on time, but she made fudge for us and made up a cute little analogy to go with it. Prayer is like fudge. Semi sweet chocolate chips are the main part, addressing our Heavenly Father. Butterscotch chips are the things we are grateful for. Vanilla is the blessings we ask for or the requests that we make. Just a small amount because we have great gratitude to God for all He has given us. Sweetened Condensed Milk is closing in the name of Jesus Christ. That holds it all together because Christ is our advocate. The nuts are optional. They are like faith because you can decide how much faith you want to have and how much you want your prayers to be answered. Sister Duvall is a sweet lady. We also had interviews with President Taylor and a little zone training to go a long with it. Sister Christopherson and I were both able to receive answers to some questions we had been praying over. We were brain storming ideas for a zone theme for like an hour (okay not really it just felt like forever) Finally I said something about how Christ left the ninety and nine to go after the one. We decided that our zone theme would be We Go After The One. I really like that. That is exactly how I feel missionary work should be.

During my interview, President asked me two questions and invited me to ask them to you also. Maybe you could discuss this at family home evening.

1) The Savior has shown me His love through His Atoning sacrifice by...
2) I will show Him my love and gratitude for the love He has shown me by....

For me, the answer to #1 is based on the song I Know That My Redeemer Lives. Jesus Christ truly lives to help me with everything. He lives for me; He lives for you. His Atonement and perfect understanding get me through the day, everyday. When I can't express how I feel, or when I'm scared, or when I don't know how to do something, I know that Christ understands perfectly and that He is there to strengthen me and buoy me up.

Not only should our Savior be our line of defense when everything else falls through, He should be our first line, our strongest line, waiting patiently to help me with everything.

#2 the way I can show my love is by passing on His love to others. Christ says to "come, follow me" and "if ye love me, keep my commandments." I do my best to follow Him. Obviously, I'm a human and thus I am imperfect, but I'm trying. Even when I'm tired and grumpy (amazing right? missionaries aren't supposed to be grumpy. well it happens when you run around all day and don't get to sleep very much. anyway back to the sentence...) and I don't want to do anything except take a nap. Then I just pray for strength and for help. And it comes. It's amazing that even when I don't even really want the strength but I know that I need it, it still comes. :)

I don't think that paragraph made sense, but just bear with me.

I also extend the invitation to you to counsel with the Lord and ask Him to help you see what you can improve in your life. I'm doing it right now, and I'm still waiting for a definite answer, but I know that as we pray with faith and real intent we can receive the answers to our prayers.

Thursday-Saturday was a little something called the YAMBOREE. Yes, the yamboree. It's as glamorous as it sounds. There are like a billion people and carnival rides and fairgrounds and all that jazz and basically the entire town shuts down. So needless to say, we were up in town most of the weekend just trying to talk to people. Turns out when people are eating corndogs or are in line for the hurl-a-whirl, they don't really want to talk about Church. But that's okay. We got to spend time with some less-actives and ward members so that was really nice. Also, I went to a Gilmer High School football game. Football is not a joke in Texas. This was a 4 A school with a stadium comparable to .... I don't know. It was just huge that's all I know. I have experienced football at its finest now.

Saturday we had a cool little miracle. We were basically hanging out with Sister Whittemore all weekend. On Saturday afternoon all of us really had to go to the bathroom and using port-a-potties just didn't sound very nice, so we hopped in Sis. W's car and drove over to the church to use their facilities over there. Right when we pulled up, some good people were loading up their car from a food order they had. The brother is disabled and can't really bend or lift things. So it was amazing and wonderful that we were right there able to help them load up!

Sunday: another miracle. After church and lunch, we were going to deliver a card to someone in the ward thanking her for some service she had done for us. We drove to her house, but only her son and husband were there. We asked where she was, but they said they didn't know. We were sad we didn't get to see her, but we understood. Right as we were leaving, the husband said, "By the way, if you get time, go check out the Kelsey cemetery. I mowed the lawn yesterday and it looks really good." So we start driving and just decide to go check out the cemetery because we had like 20 minutes before our dinner appointment. We drive around the cemetery, admire the nice grass, and are about to pull out, when LO AND BEHOLD, it is the sweet sister in her car just sitting right at the gate out of the cemetery! So we hop out of the car and were able to talk to her. We had a really good conversation with her. I know for sure that the Lord directed us to the cemetery to be able to talk with her and comfort her. Blessings for sure!

I just found this quote and really liked it: “When we decide to embark in the service of God, great things begin to happen in our life and the lives of people around us. We learn of Him. We come unto Him.” - Sister Neill F. Marriott

I love you all so much. I invite you to come unto christ and to embark in his service.
Much love,
Sister Gretchen Julie Gilbert

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

10/13/2014 Whenever I was ...

Hello hello hello to my favorite people.

Last week was crazy busy and just crazy. But wonderful. I'll sum it up with a day by day log of miracles and funnies.

Monday Miracles: we finished laundry, email, shopping in 3 hours. We were able to find a ride to Dallas and traveled safely there. On our exchange with the Sister Training Leaders, we were able to contact a whole bunch of people! It's amazing the difference a neighborhood rather than sporadic houses can make in your contacting. Then we got to have a "sleepover" ish thing at the STL's apartment with the sisters who are serving in Tyler. Great time.

Tuesday Miracles: We woke up before the crack of dawn, got 6 sisters ready and made it to the meetinghouse on the other side of town by7:45 to have our mission wide meeting. We got to watch Meet the Mormons with the whole mission. Can I just say that it is so amazing? We had a lovely meeting too. We started off with a pancake breakfast, hilarious lip synch by our mission president and the assistants, a great training, followed by the movie. I don't know about you, but I definitely got emotional watching the moving. The part when they are dropping their missionary son off at the airport was a little too close to home. You could tell the chapel full of missionaries was crying and stuff. Too soon. Hahaha. But then we finished up the meeting by singing "We Thank Thee O God For a Prophet," "Called to Serve," and "Army of Helaman." It was powerful. There were also some missionaries who sang "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" and "Savior, Redeemer of My Soul." It was powerful. We finished up the meeting by the missionaries who served in Allen for the musical devotional singing "Come Unto Christ." Basically it was just amazing. Also, I got to see a bunch of my missionary friends which was super fun.Then a member picked us up and drove us all the way. I am so GRATEFUL for these wonderful members. Then we had a ward talent show! I played Be Still My Soul. It was a great time. There were 2 non members there so that was great.

Wednesday Miracles: We had a wonderful lesson about the Spirit with a less active. We weren't sure where to go with the lesson, but the Spirit definitely guided the lesson and testified of itself. Also, at a dinner appointment, someone asked us about a deep gospel topic that we didn't know very much about. Thankfully she was calm and understood that we didn't know the answer.

Wednesday funnies: Our district leader made nasty brownies for a training at zone meeting. You know, the kind with like garlic and lots of salt and soy sauce and stuff. The faces were hilarious. It's so different to be in a zone without any other sisters, but it is okay. Also, on our way home from our zone meeting up in Mt. Pleasant we drove past a hilarious fence. Basically it's a breast cancer awareness fence that has a bunch of bras hung up on it. (is this inappropriate? I hope not. haha)

Thursday Miracles: We got to go to lunch at a member's house with a couple less actives. Good food and good company. There is a member in the ward that we have been trying to see for a long time. Her husband is a member of another faith and she's been sick since May. Last time the sisters tried to go over there, her husband just shooed them away. But we went over there, we were graciously invited in and we were able to have a wonderful discussion with them. Then at another lesson we were talking about lots of concerns with a less-active who is trying so hard to get back to church. The thought came to my mind to share a story about A Man With No Eloquence, the guy whose testimony converted Brigham Young. Right as I was about to start talking, Sister C shared the story. I know that it was the Spirit directing me as what to say. I'm so grateful for that.

Thursday Funnies: we were doing our planning and were talking to the zone leaders on the phone about a problem we were having. We were all sort of getting frustrated with each other. One of the elders was just like beating himself up over something that they had done and we were kinda getting annoyed. So Sister C said, "Elder, don't talk bad about your house! If you do, we will egg yourself. Wait?" it was so funny and definitely diffused the tension. But the elders were still going off about it, so we took the liberty of cutting out a bunch of paper eggs and did egg their house. it was pretty funny.

Friday Miracle: We went to visit with another less active family. When we went in, their grandson who is 13 was sitting in the family room with us. He told us that he wants to get baptized! So we just have some coordinating to do, and he will start taking the lessons! We've truly been searching for people to teach, so that was a huge blessing!

Saturday Miracle: We have a lesson every week with one of our recent converts, DA. We meet at his son's house and just have a nice discussion. The miracle of this though is that his granddaughter was there. She's about my age and has not been active. She sat in on the lesson about the priesthood and patriarchal blessings and participated. That was great!

Sunday Miracle: I got to introduce myself to the ward! MA came to church! Holy cow that was a big big miracle. She sat by us in sunday school and relief society. Such a blessing to have her then. Then she asked me about math and if I'd be willing to tutor her. I said I'd gladly help her out. I'm really hoping to establish a good relationship with her and help invite her to come unto Christ.

We're in the business of changing hearts, people! Sometimes your heart tells you things that your mind doesn't know.

Exciting news: my little investigator from Allen is getting baptized. TR! So that's really exciting. I don't think I will be able to get to go to the baptism though. :( It kind of breaks my heart, but I'm just so excited for Trenton.

Well, I love y'all.
Have a good one.

Sister Gilbert

Thursday, October 9, 2014

10.6.2014 East Texas, y'all!!!

Hello family! Wow I love y'all so much! It has truly been a whirlwind of a week! Monday was truly crazy! We met down at the exchange building, loaded into a big old van with 11 missionaries and 1 driver and pulled away to set off on our adventure to east Texas. Well, we made it about 20 minutes into our journey and the van starts being really bouncy and uncomfortable. Next thing we know, the back tire blows out! So we pull over and are just chilling on the side of the road for like an hour or so trying to fix the tire. Some highway service repairmen came and a really nice man so we just chilled on the shoulder and wished we could help fix the tire. By that time, we were pretty much already supposed to be meeting up with our new companions, but we were still in the metroplex! So we filled up the tire, bought some water because it was about 1000 degrees outside, and went along our merry way. Sister Griffin who served in the Allen 5th ward was being transferred out to Tyler, so we got to be with each other in the van. That was nice. 

After finally arriving in Lindel (the exchange place) and meeting my new companion Sister Christopherson, I hopped into a little car with some really nice members, the Whittemores and off we went to Gilmer. We got home, brought my suitcases in, then ran right back out the door to go to a lesson with some potential new investigators! Ahh!! It was crazy. But it was really nice. Ta* and Ji* are their names and they are a referral from a member of the bishopric, Brother Patton. After a great lesson with them (except for the fact that we didnt' have any book of mormons to leave with them . . . awkward), we rushed off to the Bishop's house. Bishop Miller. Mom, his daughter Brittany sent you a picture of us. :) It was really great to get to know him and his family better. Then I crashed into bed because I was exhausted.

Life in Gilmer is very different than life in Allen:

First and foremost: I'm in a car. Our area is huge and there is literally no way we could get any work done on a bike. We even have a hard time getting to all the parts of our area in our car due to lack of miles.

Second: my companion and I are the only sisters in the zone, so that is a big adjustment from before.

Third: our district meeting is held 30 minutes away rather than a 10 minute bike ride.

Fourth: Our living area is just the front part of a member's house just sectioned off. It's pretty cute and nice. It sort of reminds me of a cabin. We have a bedroom, bathroom, living room, and a little kitchenette type thing with a hot plate, toaster over, and microwave oven, and fridge. 

Fifth: We get to continue to do lots of less active work which I love.

Sixth: life is very slow-paced out here. No hustle and bustle.

Seventh: Everyone here is either an active mormon, less-active, or has a close friend or family member who is a mormon, or at least knows of the church's fairly prominent position in this area.

Eighth: Pretty much everyone in Gilmer is related to each other. That's not even a lie.

Ninth: Gilmer is the main town, but there are lots of little railroad "communitites" scattered around. We live in Kelsey - which was one of the first mormon establishments out here in east Texas.

Tenth: East Texas = the SOUTH. wow. so many funny sayings, traditions, etc. Southern grammar reigns (I'm dying a little bit, but trying to get used to it.) Whenever I was; as the crow flies; over yonder; fixin' to; y'all. All the good stuff. My english is dying. But such is life. haha.

Eleventh: in Allen, we tried to contact 140 people a week and we usually exceeded that. Here, 40 is like a big impossible push. But we're gonna get it!

Tuesday we got to do some service at a member's house. We helped her organize her daugther's room and clean up. I actually really enjoyed it. We ate at a little Bar B Q place called Bodacious. It was delicious. :) The members here are friendly and helpful. Everything is just super spread out.

Wednesday: I got to meet a LA (less active) we are working with Sister Du*. She is just the sweetest lady. She was super accepting of me, so that just made me feel loved and welcome. It's hard to replace a very loving, very loved missionary, but I'm just trying to be myself and do my best to fill her shoes. :)

Thursday: A CRAZY storm hit Thursday night. It was windy, lightning-y (ratatouille), rainy and just stormy. But we braved it and still met with a couple families. Good times. The people here LOVE to talk. Like I said before, it's slow paced and no on is in a hurry. So people could talk forever, but you gotta try to get a word in.

Friday: We went down to a part of our area called Big Sandy. It's about half an hour away down a VERY twisty road. After our appointment there with a LA named Ma* (she's great by the way) and driving that road again, we were feeling nasty. But thankfully we had some sprite in the fridge to help us. For dinner we went with a member and her non-member husband to a place called Walking S Steakhouse. I got fried catfish. It was pretty good actually. After dinner, the member called us and said that we did a perfect job with her husband. She was worried if we talked too much about the church that he would get defensive. But we talked about our missions and kind of what we do as missionaries as just part of our regular conversation, and the sister said it was perfect. I love when amazing things like that happen.

There have been a lot of tragedies and heart aches here in Gilmer over the past couple of months. But we (as in the missionaries) have been able to work with people and help them recognize the importance and blessings of the church and more importantly the gospel.

Ahh! Wasn't conference just amazing?!? It's always SO refreshing to hear the words of the prophets. I love President Monson dearly and I'm so grateful for his love and his sacrifice for each one of us. I don't have my journal with my right now, but I did have some wonderful insights and answers to questions during conference. We watched conference with our members. Sat morning: bishop miller and fam. Sat aft: the whittemores. Sun morn: the fullers ( and had a HUGE breakfast to boot) sun aft: the millers again.

Saturday night we decided to have a little girls night party. So we invited a couple less actives to come over to the bishop's house. we had food, talked, and played laugh your head off! It was seriously so hilarious and I haven't laughed that hard in a LONG time.

Miracles/amazing moments of the week:

1-During our planning session, Sister Christopherson and I were trying to figure out what member we could have come with us to a meeting with an investigator. We were thinking and I was looking at our ward list. At the exact same time, Sister C and I said the exact same person. It was an amazing moment. The thing that was truly amazing though, was that I hadn't met the investigator or the member who was going to come with us. This week has been amazing. I'm still trying to get to know ward members, less actives, and investigators, but I have truly truly seen the Spirit help me and guide me as I try to wrap my head around everything.

2- we got a referral for the elders between sessions of conference

3-a less active family and a bunch of their relatives all watch conference!

4- we were able to teach an elderly lady in our ward how to use her laptop and be able to go back and watch general conference.

Sister Christopherson is from Clinton, UT. She's 22 and graduated from Snow College. She'll be going to USU after her mission (woot woot). This is her last transfer, so I get to finish things off with her. She loves to scrapbook, craft, and sew. She's really funny and we are very similar. I would attach some pictures, but the computers at the library here prohibit that. So, I'll print off pictures at walmart next week and mail them to you.

Mom: I would love it if you sent a bunch of those quotes from the women's session. There's one about power and light that I love? sorry that doesn't really help . . . but Sister C would love a copy of all of them, and we'd love some to give to people also. I'm assuming that there will be a bunch from conference also, so maybe send some of those too? they are really fun.

I'm trying to think of other things, but that's pretty much all that comes to mind for now. The time is really short today, we are off to Dallas to watch MEET THE MORMONS and do an exchange with the Sister Training Leaders.
Well, I love y'all so much! Do good and be good!

My scripture for the week is Moroni 7:47. It's all about charity!

Sister Gretchen Gilbert in Gilmer. :)
(I sure do love the letter G).