Thursday, November 27, 2014


Oh boy what a week it has been. As always. I really haven't felt good all week. Lots of headaches, body aches, runny nose, stuffy nose, sore throat - all that jazz. So, it's been of a week of trying to feel better and also manage the normal missionary schedule (which is easier said than done to be perfectly honest.)
Monday night we had another lesson with JO. This kid is amazing. We asked him if he had been able to pray about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. He told us that he had gone into the bathroom to pray and simply asked Heavenly Father. He said he immediately felt good and felt "like the Spirit had touched his heart." I thought this was just about the sweetest thing I've ever heard. I'm really excited to continue working with him. We don't have a date set in place yet, but it should be within December or January.

Tuesday we were off to good old Allen, Texas for a Zone Conference. Oh it was amazing as always. I got to see Sister Olsen, Sister Aumua, Sister Carlson, Sister Gavin, and the list goes on. All my Sisters. It was so wonderful. The trainings were pretty good too! Some of the things were reiterations from sister's conference, but it always good to remember and get a reminder of the good lessons we have been taught.
It's good to remember:
  • That Christ is our advocate. His grace will never run out.
  • Oh what a happy day and time we live in. We have the fullness of the gospel and we know of our Heavenly Father's love for each of us.
  • We should each stand up and declare, "I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." When we know who we are as disciples of Christ, our example and light can shine. We truly are the message.
  • We can change our weaknesses to strengths through the repentance process. This is possible through the Atonement.
  • Regrets can be a stumbling block that can turn into a stepping stone through Christ.
Then the highlight of the trainings was a little workshop called, "If They Say No." It's to be used in a scenario when you invite someone to learn about Christ or about the message of the Restoration and they say no. You then return and say, "We talk to a lot of people who say no. What can we do to help people say yes?" or "How can we improve?" It truly helps people be more willing to have a conversation and help them realize that we are humans and want to do better.

During one of my studies this week, I was reading in the Ensign. I was studying two talks. The first was by Bishop Davies: The Law of the Fast: A Personal Responsibility to Care for the Poor and Needy. The second by President Uchtdorf: Lord, Is It I? These talks were both great, and I'll share some quotes from them.

Caring for the poor and needy is a fundamental gospel doctrine and an essential element in the eternal plan of salvation.

The spirit of caring for the poor and needy has the power to soften otherwise hardened hearts and blesses the lives of those who may infrequently attend Church.

In chapter 27 of 3 Nephi, the risen Lord asked, “What manner of men ought ye to be?” He responded, “Even as I am.” As we take upon ourselves the name of Christ and strive to follow Him, we will receive His image in our countenance and become more like Him. Caring for the poor and needy is inherent in the ministry of the Savior.

Faithfully caring for the poor and needy is a reflection of spiritual maturity

Then in President Uchtdorf"s talk it talks about if our hearts are set on the teachings of the diligent Jesus Christ.

Here are some thoughts I recorded in my journal about it. We should follow the teachings of the Savior - obviously not to just put on a show or give "lip-service" but truly to love and serve as He has taught us to do. In Helaman 4, there is a lot of wickedness and destruction happening among the Nephites. Unfortunately it is fairly soon after they had just barely been righteous. In Helaman 4:11-12 it talks about why this happened and why their society was falling apart. It was because of wickedness, abominations, church members who weren't living up to their beliefs and the principles of the gospel, pride, exceeding riches, oppression to the poor, withholding food from the hungry, etc. etc. This list goes on and on. Essentially the people forgot the basics. 1-to love the Lord with all their heart, might, mind, and strength. 2-to love their neighbor as themselves.

I don't know if you can see the connection or if it's only working in my brain, but we truly must give! We can do it the Lord's way and we can help many people.

Friday we saw a couple widows and and residents of a nursing home. It just about broke my heart to see the nursing home. I guess I hadn't really experienced it before, but it was just sad. The neat thing though: we were talking to a sister in the ward at the nursing home and by the end of our visit a bunch of the residents were gathered around and we were able to talk to several of them. We were also able to answer some questions about the church that one of the nurses had. All in all, it ended up being a good experience. We finished the night up by having a great interactive lesson about the the plan of salvation with JA. He's coming along great, and we're just trying to get him fully immersed in the ward.

It's truly been a busy week with lots of cancelled appointments and stuffy noses, but we hung in there an made it through. I am looking forward to Thanksgiving and stuffing my face with stuffing. Should be good. :)

I love y'all so much! Keep being amazing!
Sister Gretchen Gilbert

Monday, November 17, 2014

11.17.2014 - Who ever said that Texas is not cold, lied!

Hello my beautiful people! What a crazy amazing adventurous week I've had! First and foremost: Transfers happened! Oh my goodness! I am staying in Gilmer, and I have been reunited with the amazing Sister Parkinson! Can you believe it? I can't. But it's so wonderful! We have had an amazing week and I am so tired because of it, but goodness, I am happy!

It's been pretty darn cold this week. Tights, boots, long socks, all that jazz. No snow yet, but some drizzly rain and coldness that's for sure. I'm using my little sack of corn to stay warm, but I really am fine and having a great time. :)

Tuesday: We got Sister Parkinson settled in a little bit (not much, but a little) and were off for a couple of appointments. We got to teach Jo. I think I've told y'all about him a little bit, but his mom approached us at church a couple of weeks ago and said that Jo wanted to take the lessons and be baptized. So we got to teach him the Restoration, and it was just amazing. He is so ready and eager and willing to learn! It's basically the greatest. After teaching, we gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon. I handed it to him kind of off hand just thinking that he probably already had a copy. But he took it and hugged it close to his chest and looked up at me and said, "Thank you so much." It really touched my heart because the Book of Mormon really is a precious gift from the Savior. 

Wednesday: We stopped by Am Ca's house. Her husband is a fairly recent convert, and Am had started taking the lessons several weeks ago but got really sick. We dropped by to introduce Sister Parkinson, and ended up having a really great meeting with her. We shared Mosiah 4:9 and talked about a belief in God and all that He does for us. She expressed that she isn't sure about taking the missionary lessons at this time, but she is willing to have us come over and share a spiritual thought with her each week. So, we'll start there and take what we can get. 

Thursday: We had a very very successful planning day! We were very diligent and had a great time. Then, all 3 of our appointments cancelled for the evening. That was very stressful. But we ended up being able to stop by 2 less actives and talk to them for a while. We finished up the cold night with some ice cream, because why not.

Friday: We did some tracting! It was cold and brisk, but I had actually missed tracting a little bit. Ha. But it was good. Not super successful, but always a good time. We miraculously found a member to come with us to a lesson down in Big Sandy. That was a big blessing! I also learned how to can butter and geothermally heat a green house. We were able to meet another less-active and have a good discussion. We asked her why she hadn't been at church the past couple of weeks and she said she just hadn't gone. So we invited her to sit by us during the meetings and she seemed pretty enthused about that. At dinner, the members had made a very delicious, very HOT soup. I didn't realize how hot it was and partook of a LARGE, HEAPING SPOONFUL OF LAVA. To put it simply, my tongue is FINALLY starting to feel normal today (like 3 days later.) That was adventurous. Even ice cream didn't make it feel any better. We finished the night up by teaching Ja his first new member lesson and actually had him help teach it back to us. Oh, how I love that boy. There are marvelous things in store for him. Also, one of the highlights of Friday was listening to CHRISTMAS MUSIC in the car. Yes yes, I love my christmas music early, but oh it was just happy. 

Saturday: We had 4 very successful stop-bys! I feel like the fruits of our faith were able to show and we were able to have a lot of success from that. I also got to eat a rhubarb pie, and it felt just like home! Scary story: we were driving up a highway around 2 pm. It was overcast and pretty windy. Well lo and behold we see a deer standing on the side of the road. I slowed down a little bit because I wasn't sure what was going to happen. Well, the deer looked at us, the DARTED right into the road right in front of us! I slammed on the brakes, missed the deer by just a couple of inches, and the deer ran off into the woods, but only after looked back at us with a very coy grin. Blasted thing. I was pretty shook up, so we pulled over and sat on the side of the road for a while, so I could regain my composure. That was pretty emotional, but we were safe. Heavenly Father definitely heightened my ability to deal with the situation, and I am grateful that we made it out unharmed. Oh deer. ;) One last cool thing from Saturday. In a meeting with Br and Ra (less-actives) we were talking about prophets and missionary work and all that good stuff. Then they told us a really cool story. Jo is their 6 year old son. Br had been just thinking about life and his family and things one day at work. Then he said the thought came to him that Jo was going to be a missionary. He just kept thinking about it, and it just kept coming to him that Jo would be. Then a couple of days later, Br's dad came up to him and said, "I have a feeling that Jo is going to be a missionary." Br hadn't told Ra or Jo about any of this. Then several days later, Jo just walked up to Ra and said, "Mom, I'm going to be a missionary man someday." I thought this was such a special story because Jo would be one of the first people to serve a mission in his family. He would be able to do so much. So after they told that story, I clipped my name tag onto Jo's shirt and he wore it for the rest of the meeting. My heart was very full and I could just picture him serving a mission someday. Very special.

Sunday: pretty normal average Sunday. It was the Primary program, and we were able to sit by the less-active who we told we would. So that was pretty good. That evening, we were driving around trying to find a house of some members. I hadn't been there before, we don't have a gps, and it was dark. We just had an address. So we turned down a street, went about half a mile, and were able to find it. SO amazing.

I have definitely seen the Lord's hand in my life this week, and I am truly grateful for that.
I am so grateful for the opportunity we have to study the conference talks and try to extract all the goodness out of those.

I am so blessed to be a missionary!
I love you so much!
Sister Gilbert

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

11.10.2014 - Many mighty miracles

Hello, hello! What a blessed week this has been! So much has been going on, and I don't even know where to begin (mostly because I forgot my planner that reminds me what has happened....but I will do my best!).

Tuesday we had a Zone Meeting. It was uplifting and wonderful. We talked about what motivates us on our missions to be obedient and to work hard. I feel like obedience brings so many blessings. Less stress, a good focus, and success. I also love the Lord and the people that I'm serving and I know that as I'm obedient, I am able to serve my best and  just be the best missionary I can be. An Elder said, "Imagine what the Savior would do, and do it." I loved that. We also talked about coming unto the Savior and learning of him. In Matthew 11:28-30, the Savior invites us to become one with Him. As we recognize our true identity, that we are children of God and he love us, we willl remember our potential and be able to work towards it. We must keep this vision of who we are. Charity never fails as we invite others to come unto Christ. I KNOW that as I love more and love better, I will be able to help people feel love the love of Christ.

Wednesday : the longest day of my life. Almost. We had Sister's Conference in Dallas (wahoo!) It was seriously so fun! We left at 6:30 am, drove all morning (practically) and got there a little late. But it was so uplifting and motivating to just be together with the Sisters in the mission. (I have attached a picture form it). WE talked about how happiness comes from knowing, loving, and understanding the Savior of the world. President Taylor also taught us about the connection between grace and weakness. Grace is the divine means of help through the Atonement. In Ether 12:27 it talks about weakness. As we come unto Christ, he will show us our weaknesses. This sounds kinda weird, huh? But, he shows us our weakness so that we can humble ourselves and rely on Him. When we are weak, we can be made strong through Christ. I now know what weakness if for. President said that we feel like our weaknesses are truly manifest on our missions, but it is because we are coming closer to Christ and learning more of Him and how we can change to become more like him. A sister invited us to make a list of what makes us happy on our missions and I will share part of that list:

  • gorgeous Texas skies
  • southern drawl
  • learning about the culture
  • getting to spend lots of time with a good friend (companion)
  • learning more about Christ and His gospel
  • growing my testimony
  • meeting new people
  • getting to consecrate 1.5 years to the Lord
  • feeling my heart being able to love more and more people
  • leaving the world behind
  • wearing my name tag
  • seeing all the MIRACLES and TENDER MERCIES on a daily basis

That seriously is just a fraction of my happy list, but I am SO BLESSED.

President also asked us, "Do you believe in Jesus Christ? Do you believe that He believes in you?"

Let Go and Let God.

Okay, that's all from Sister's conference. It was just so amazing I can't even handle it.

Friday was the funeral for sweet Sister DA. Despite her being so young and still having a young family, that was definitely a peaceful, hopeful, and positive funeral. Her family members and friends just shared funny and hopeful stories about her. We were all laughing during the funeral. I have so much love the people here, and even though I never got to personally know Sandy, I love her family dearly and I'm so grateful for the positive outlook at the funeral.

Saturday: JA got baptized!! :) My heart was so full it was going to burst right on open. After some challenges trying to get the program finalized and the printed copy created Friday night and on Saturday morning, we were finally able to breathe and relax and have a wonderful baptism. JA's sweet mother gave the opening prayer and my heart just filled up with joy. I'm serious. It was so special to have JA and his family all gathered around. It was a simple baptism, but it was amazing!

Sunday: JA got confirmed a member of the Church. There were so many blessings and promises given to him, and I could just envision him standing in the temple down the road. Oh my heart was just bursting. We had another investigator at church because her husband was speaking, so that was awesome!

I've truly fallen in love with my mission here in Gilmer. :) I am so blessed.

Also, I stepped in an ant hill. That was pretty adventurous.

I love you so much!
Sister Gilbert

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

11.3.2014 Reflect Love

Hey y'all!

Another great week in Texas! :) I don't know if you get bored out your brains when you read my emails (hope not), but I think I'll just keep doing the miracles of the week. 

Monday: I got to help a less-active in the ward prepare for her College Algebra test this week. That was really fun! (For me at least, I don't know if the girl had as good of a time as I did, but that's okay). Seriously, I know, I love math. But it was great to be able to serve her and help her with something that I love to do! Also, there was a photo contest all about Love, we felt pretty clever.

Tuesday: We helped a ward member, Sister Fairbrother, hang up pictures in her new house. So that was good. We also washed some more blinds, so I got my arm work-out in for the week. Ha. But really. Then Tuesday night we had another lesson with Ja! This kid is so amazing! We went over the baptismal interview questions to help us help him prepare for his baptismal interview. He is going to get baptized this week! The Lord is definitely preparing people! There have been so many miracles in the Jo family, seriously. Ja may not understand everything perfectly, but good heavens, he can feel the Spirit, and we know for sure that the Spirit is the teacher here. What a blessing. Another great part of this lesson was that Ja's less-active mom was there. She had a POWERFUL testimony of tithing and was able to help Ja understand tithing better. Ja and his mom are great support for each other. 

Wednesday: We had back to back lessons in the morning, and we were able to be on time to all of them! That was definitely a miracle. Time is not our friend, but we were able to be timely and still have the Spirit present at our lessons. How grateful I am for that! Wednesday night was the Tri-Ward trunk or treat! Such a fun evening! :) I went as Where's Wanda? and Sister Christopherson was a Texas Dorothy. She had red sparkly shoes, a gingham skirt, an armadillo in her basket, and a homemade t-shirt that said, "there's no place like home" with a Texas outline, and the back said, "Sister, i don't think we're in Utah anymore." It was really cute. We got our trunk all decked out and handed out candy. So fun to mix up the routine a little bit.

Thursday: We went up to town to see if there were service opportunities in the community that we could be a part of. We got rejected at a couple places, but then the Upshur County Museum told us they could use us! So that is basically a mega blessing! Then that night we had a wonderful lesson with the Wa family about prayer. We also talked about creating our own personal title of liberty. So, I invite you to do such! A title of liberty that you stand up for and are the basics of your beliefs.

Friday: Had a lesson with Ma, and we really wanted to focus on being grateful and finding joy in the circumstances. So we told her to put on her shoes, and we just started walking down her street. It was an adorable street, by the way. Lined with trees and falling leaves and just cute houses. The sun was shining and the wind was blowing slightly. So we set off walking. We just chatted for a little, then Sister Christopherson said that we were going to take time to have a prayer walk. So we walked down the street in silence and prayed and thanked Heavenly Father for all the blessings that we have! It was a very spiritual and peaceful moment walking down that little road. Then it was time for Ja's baptismal interview! We were all sooo nervous but we knew that he would do alright. Wahooo! So we will be having a baptism this upcoming Saturday (Nov. 8). I am so looking forward to it! :) Seeing as today was Halloween and sketchiness can occur, we had a get together as a zone! It was pretty fun. We had chicken spaghetti for dinner (meh, but it's totally an east texas thing.) then played Laugh Your Head Off. Oh my goodness, it was pretty hilarious. 

Saturday: We made a PRO (pray, read, obey) rock for Ja to remind him to be a PRO. It turned out pretty cute. Then we had a great dinner with a less-active family, dutch oven potatoes and all the goods. Then we had a SUPER miracle. There is an investigator that I haven't been able to meet, because she has been super duper busy. But we decided to drop by her house again (this is like the 5th time of trying) and she was home! Woo! So I got to meet her. Saturday night brought some really sad news. A Sister in the ward passed away. She is the aunt of the Millers in the ward, who I love dearly. She's been fighting cancer and other health issues for a while now, and passed away Saturday evening. She has 3 kids ages 19, 16, 13. My heart just hurts for their family. The 19 is preparing to go on a mission, and told Bishop that he will send in his papers next week. What great faith and dedication to the Lord.

Sunday: Fast and Testimony meeting. It was a very somber day, due to the passing of the sweet sister. But those who bore their testimonies did so with love and boldness and truth. A 16 year old bore her testimony and she said, "Be strong for the Savior was strong for us." I loved that. I had a really powerful fast as well, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to fast. In other news, I'm telling y'all, part member families are the low-hanging fruit! We had another family tell us today that they want their 10 year old son to take the lessons, and that he wants to get baptized! Holy cow, I am so grateful and happy! Good stuff. We had another lesson with Ja tonight as well.

Well folks, it's been a busy week, and I have another busy week ahead of me. I am so very grateful to be a missionary. I am so blessed! My heart just bursts with happiness every time that I think how fortunate I am to be serving a mission right now. I miss y'all a bunch, but there is no other place that I'd rather be right now! I love my calling! It's taken me a little while to grow into it, but I feel like my feet are finally growing into the big shoes of being a missionary!

Our zone leaders asked us to come up with our personal vision for our missions. After much study and thought and prayer, I figured mine out. It is: Reflect Love based off 1 John 4:19,21. Basically to me it means that as a missionary (and throughout the rest of my life) I will take the love that I feel from Heavenly Father and that I have for Him, and share it with all those I come in contact with, so that they may feel my love, but more importantly feel of God's love and the Savior's love. So Reflect Love it is.

I love this gospel so much! It truly is the good news! Jesus Christ loves each and every one of us.  I love the peace that comes from knowing about the plan of salvation, the plan of happiness. 

I love y'all. Thanks for all you do for me! <3

Sister Gilly Gilbert (nickname courtesy of Sister Christopherson)