Monday, December 29, 2014

12.29.2014 - Oh tidings of comfort and joy

Hello hello! What a beautiful, beautiful week it was.

JO our little investigator, is getting baptized on January 3. He passed his baptismal interview and everything. I sure do love that little guy. He is a wonderful example to his family. His younger brother, SE, turns 8 in February. Hopefully we can help him get ready to be baptized as well.

Tuesday: funny story. We had a dinner appointment with an elderly lady in the ward. So we called her Monday night to remind her, and she was so grateful that we did. So then on Tuesday we went over to see her, and she kindly invited us in and we chatted with her for a while. We just kept waiting and waiting for dinner..... but then she asked us if we could share a message with her. So we read a scripture, discussed it, and then she shooed us out the door. Yep, that's right. She had totally forgotten about it. I mean, we aren't ever hungry. Ever. But it was still the most hilarious thing. Oh boy. We were also able to spend some good time with some less-actives and make Brazilian candies with them.

Christmas Eve was nice! We got to eat dinner with a whole bunch of our favorite people and play some games. The members here in Gilmer have been soooo good to us. We've definitely felt spoiled and loved a whole bunch. There has definitely been an outpouring of LOVE.

Christmas was good! We had a zone meeting, then chatting with our fam fams on Facetime, and another dinner. Oh, I just love the people here in Gilmer. They sure do make it easier to be away from home. But definitely the highlight of the day and month and basically season was talking to my beautiful family. Oh I love them.

Friday we texted one of our investigators, MI, to see how she was. She texted back and told us that she has been reading the Book of Mormon and that she has come to know that it is true! She said she was reading some verses that her friend had marked, and it just "clicked" and she knew it was all true. So awesome! We also talked to JA about going to do baptisms for the dead. We are going to help him get a family name ready to go for their youth temple trip in February. I'm excited for him!
Sunday night was good also. We saw RI, had a great dinner, and saw two less-actives. He is coming along okay, it will definitely be baby steps with him, but I'm willing to take them.

Also, we went to Longview today. I stepped foot in a target for the first time in MONTHS. Ha.

I'm reading the Book of Mormon again. We're trying to do it in 40 days as a mission. I'm highlighting every time that it has a reference to Jesus Christ in it. It is amazing to see how every page and even every column has reference to Christ. How grateful I am for that. Another cool thing is that as I'm more actively reading, I'm gaining more understanding. Like, I was reading the Isaiah chapters this morning, and they made much more sense! yay.

oh how grateful I am for the Savior and for everything he's done for me. I love Jesus Christ, and I hope that through my actions that I can follow him more fully.

Have a wonderful week. I love y'all!
Sister Gilbert

The Living Christ

Gretchen's mission memorized "The Living Christ" by the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Here's a message from her mission president: 

We bear testimony of the divine power of our Savior’s great Atoning sacrifice and its grace in these sacred words.  Through deeply planting these words in our minds and in our hearts, we are coming to know our Savior in a more personal ways. We are Becoming One with Him. We are striving to serve Him with all of our hearts, might, minds and strength!

The link below is our Christmas gift to you!  We hope you will watch it over and over and over again!  Our missionaries are excited for you to see each of them bearing witness of His holy name. We love and honor our Savior, Jesus Christ. We declare that The Church of Jesus Christof Latter-Day Saints is His Church. Our love and gratitude for Him knows no bounds. “God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son.”



So we had our Christmas/Transfer meeting in Dallas on Tuesday! Holy cow, it is just so wonderful to be gathered will all the other missionaries! I just love them dearly. It was hard to say goodbye to all my missionary friends who went home, but the meeting was great. We got to watch Charlie Brown's Christmas and also the Angels From the Realms of Glory by the Piano Guys with David Archuleta! That was a highlight. We then just had a musical devotional where a bunch of missionaries shared their Christmas musical talents. So great. We did have to wake up at 3:45 am to be able to make it to Dallas on time, but it was well worth it! Also, I saw a wild hog dash across the road on our way home. Super cool! I love East Texas!

Wednesday we had the most wonderful lesson with TO again. He taught us about faith and did a fantastic job! He definitely knows way more about the gospel than he lets on to. We then had a wonderful discussion about our gifts and talents and how we can overcome our weaknesses. It's amazing to see how less-actives and investigators can answer questions to your prayers. It's definitely a "learning together" sort of experience. We strengthen them and they strengthen us. Love it. The 3rd ward had a baptism that we were able to attend, and oh it was just a wonderful day.

Thursday: we ran into RA at the gas station when we were taking a quick break. She had been having a really bad day, so it meant a lot to be able to run into here. I definitely know that it was NOT a coincidence we were there.

Friday was the roughest day. Everything just was not not not working out. But we did have a couple of good things. We were able to contact down in Big Sandy for a while, and we were able to meet the Millers' son, who just got home from his mission in Nevada. I love that missionary spirit! It's wonderful. Also, at our dinner appointment that night, they brought out this HUGE HUGE HUGE Italian Cream cake. So we were eating it and it was pretty good. Then they told us that they found it on the side of road! WHAT? He went on to explain that it was still all wrapped up and packaged, frozen solid, and sitting on dry ice, but just laying there. SO funny! So, needless to say, we ate roadkill cake.

Saturday was great! Do y'all remember me telling you about RI? Well, we had another fantastic lesson with him. He told us about a very spiritual experience he had at a football game, and that he truly felt like God was telling him to be more loving. He told us with tears in his eyes that he loved us and cares for us. It was seriously just the nicest thing. Then we answered a bunch of questions that he had about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. They were all very earnest questions, and he wasn't trying to cross us, but he just wanted to know. Then we talked briefly about faith, repentance, and baptism. He told us that he didn't want to get baptized just to join a church. He said that he's only a member of Christ's church, and any other church isn't worth it. We were able to bear testimony that our church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true church again on the earth and that it is operated and functions the same as Christ's church. It was a very very spiritual moment for me, and while I was testifying, I felt the spirit testify to me that my words were true. RI then said, "It may take me a while, but how long are you willing to continue meeting with me? I'm not naive to what your purpose is (I think he meant like baptism....) but I want to continue meeting with you." And the prayer that he prayed was softer and different. It is just amazing to see how the Lord is preparing people and softening hearts. On top of that, RI doesn't have any problems with drinking or smoking or any of that, so that makes a big difference. Oh, I am just excited to see how things pan out.

Sunday was also good. The members here are so loving and we truly got spoiled and gifted out! All I want for Christmas is to skype with my family, but the love that I have received here in Gilmer is amazing. Oh I just love it here.

Well, that's about it! But I want to bear my testimony, that I KNOW God lives and that He loves us. I want to second my testimony to that of the apostles given in The Living Christ. "His way truly is the way to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son!"

I love y'all so much! Have a blessed week and a very Merry Christmas!

Sister Gretchen Gilbert

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

12.14.14 My Texas Life

Hello hello! What a beautiful 60 degree mid December day it is today. Ha! It's been a good week, and I've definitely seen and felt the Lord's hand in my life this week. How grateful I am for that.

Here are some of the miracles that I've seen this week.

Monday: So on Monday we were driving to our appointment with Da (a recent convert) to teach him his last new member lesson. The phone started ringing, so Sister Parkinson answered it. Turns out it was a ward member, Sister Wadsworth. We had a dinner appointment with them the next evening, so she was just calling to confirm that. But then, after we worked out details for dinner, she told us she had some exciting news. Two weeks earlier at a dinner appointment with them, we had invited their family to extend 2 invitations to their friends/family members to listen to a message from us by the time we had dinner with them again. So on the phone, Sister Wadsworth told us that both people they had invited to listen accepted the invitation!! (Look at these wonderful members doing their missionary work!) So one of them was their grandmother who is from Louisiana, and they are going to get her set up with the missionaries out there. The other one is is a 14 year old named Mi who is a good family friend (I'll tell you more about her on the Thursday miracles). We were seriously SO excited! Oh boy, Monday was truly wonderful.

Tuesday: We had a wonderful district meeting talking about light and truth. We sang "Lead, Kindly Light." I love this hymn. Here are part of the words.

Lead, kindly Light, amid th'encircling gloom;
Lead thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home;
Lead thou me on!
Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene--one step enough for me.

We also talked about how in the scriptures when it invites to ask, seek, and knock, it is similar to being a PRO. Ask = pray. Seek = read. Knock = obey. COOL!

Jesus Christ truly is the light. I was reading in 3 Nephi 18 this morning and also found this to go along with it.

16 And as I have prayed among you even so shall ye pray in my church, among my people who do repent and are baptized in my name. Behold I am the light; I have set an example for you.

24 Therefore, hold up your light that it may shine unto the world. Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up—that which ye have seen me do.

It's so good. I love love love the concept of light and truth and how all good things come from it. It also reminds me of the scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 88:40 - "For intelligence cleaveth unto intelligence; wisdom receiveth wisdom; truth embraceth truth; virtue loveth virtue; light cleaveth unto light;"

Wednesday: This was such a wonderful day! Everything just went well, and oh boy, I was so tired by the end of it, but it was amazing. First thing, we helped Sister Duvall set up her Nativity scene. Her health is doing a little bit better, so that was wonderful to see. After lunch, we visisted Sister Fairbrother. She's pregnant and just found out that she's having a boy. Her husband was out of town this week, so we went to check up on her. We had a wonderful conversation with her. Then we met with To and had an awesome discussion about the Atonement and the Plan of Salvation. We had planned on teaching him about faith, but when we went in there, we started talking about the Resurrection and just went off on the plan. Oh it was wonderful, and we parted ways feeling so uplifted. After dinner with the Dixon's we taught Jo another lesson. Oh we are so excited for his baptism on January 3rd!  After dinner, we went snowflaking (it's like doing the little heart attack, but with snowflakes) to the Elders and to some less-actives and a couple of our investigators. When we got home, Ti (investigator) texted us and told us that the snowflakes meant SO much to her. She was so stressed and busy and sad because her husband couldn't come home from work, and she said the snowflakes and us just thinking about her meant a lot to her.

Thursday: we started the day off with a lesson with Ri, the new investigator that I found whilst on exchanges with Sister Griffin. Our meeting with him last week was kind of rough, so Sister Parkinson and I prayed really hard that we could have the Spirit with us to direct the conversation. I definitely felt strengthened and our testimonies were confirmed by the Holy Ghost. Ri still isn't quite sure why there needs to be another book of scripture, but when we were testifying about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith and the priesthood, I could see the cogs working in his mind. Thursday evening was probably one of the highlights of this week. So we went back to the Wadsworths to have our lesson with Mi! So, at the Yamboree back in October, Dallin and Eden Wadsworth (ages 15 and 12) met this girl named Mi. They had a really good time with her and hung out with her all weekend. So the Wadsworths and Mi had a good friendship going. Mi commented several times to Sis. Wadsworth that she just loved the feeling in their home and said it was peaceful. Dallin told Mi a little about their beliefs and also gave her a Book of Mormon. Well, she said she was willing to listen to the lessons to see what we all believe in. So, Mi is a baptist, but she was willing to listen. We talked about prophets and the priesthood and the apostasy and Joseph Smith and she said that it all just made so much sense to her. It just clicked. Then we watched the Restoration DVD, and I think it helped solidify it even more. We were very real and honest in our testimonies and in our personalities, and I think it really helped Mi realize that we are real people, and that we do good things. We have a return appointment with her tomorrow, and oh boy I am excited!

Friday we had our ward Christmas party! Benji Dawson (whose mother passed away the beginning of November) got his mission call and opened it at the party! He's going to the Utah Salt Lake West Mission. That was really fun and brought back lots of memories.

Saturday: we made cookies with Sister Whittemore to deliver to less-actives and such. It was so great! The 2nd ward had a baptism that we were able to attend, and then we finished up the evening by going caroling with the Elders. It was seriously wonderful.

Sunday: we had to teach gospel principles on the fly. It actually ended up being good though. We taught about the Spirit World, and it went well. So here's a little confession: I'm definitely picking up on the Texas Twang. Yikes! Also, the line of when it's appropriate to use "when" or "whenever" is getting very blurred. Ha. But, during our lesson yesterday, I said, "My life...." but it definitely came out as "Maiy Laiyfe." Oh boy.

What a wonderful week! Also, in Acts 5:38-39, it talks about how the works of men will cease, but the work of God can't be overthrown. I loved it!

Sorry for the novella.
I hope you have a wonderful Christmas week! I love you so much!


Sister Gretchen Gilbert

Monday, December 8, 2014


Hello hello! Another week and has come and gone. And actually this week has felt like the mega longest week of my life. Maybe not, but still. It was pretty conventional, all of our normal appointments and visits.

Wednesday night to Thursday afternoon we got to go on exchanges with the sisters who are serving in Tyler. Sister Griffin came here and we had a great time. Let me just tell you: tracting is super awkward in some parts of our area because the houses are so far spread apart. So with Sister Griffin, we just hopped in the car and drove down the street from house to house to talk to people. We actually ended up getting a new investigator from exchanges! He's a nice man who knows a lot about the Bible and is very comfortable in another church. But, he is interested in the Book of Mormon and is willing to listen to what we have to offer. So we will continue and press-on there. We also visited a bunch of widows. That's always an adventure to be had.

Thursday evening when Sister Parkinson and I had been reunited, we went out with a girl in the ward who recently got back from her mission. We had an appointment with some potential investigators, but they weren't home, so we went around trying to visit some other potentials. One of our investigators was home though! So we got to see her and share He is the Gift with her. She really enjoyed the video! Also, we got REALLY lost trying to get home. Once again, the adventures of Sister Parkinson and Sister Gilbert. Hahaha. We dropped the member off at her house, and I was certain that I could get us home the back way. (Well I was actually only about 85% certain and part of me was thinking that I needed to just drive home on the main roads, but I ignored that and went along my merry way.) So we're driving along and we're just passing houses every once in a while and mostly it was just us and the trees and finally we get to an intersection of the roads Cherokee Trace and Chipmunk. I didn't recognize the name of the street Chipmunk, so we pulled out our handy dandy map (which isn't so handy or accurate) to try to figure out where we were. Turns out we were definitely not in our area anymore...... So we turn around, drive for a while, find the street Armadillo and eventually make it back home. We were laughing pretty hard by the time we made it back there. Oh goodness.

Friday we saw MA and had a fun lesson with her. We all shared our favorite scriptures and why they mean a lot to us. Friday night was the highlight though: After we had finished for the evening and planned for Saturday, we definitely got in the Christmas spirit! Some less actives gave us one of their old Christmas trees along with decorations and we got to put it up! Our halls have officially been decked.

Also, a member called us up on Saturday morning. Her husband has some disabilities and she has been very sick with pneumonia and hadn't been able to put their Christmas tree up. So she gave us a call and we got to serve her and put her tree up! Pretty much the best service project I've ever done. :) So good. Also, she gave us some of those delicious lofthouse sugar cookies.

Sunday was also good. Our fast and testimony meeting was very spiritual. I love when pure testimonies are born and you just feel strengthened and uplifted after the meeting. We also got to go caroling with a family in the ward and it was just a grand time.

I am so grateful for Christmas! It's so wonderful to have an extra special reason to share our message with people and to invite people to come unto Christ.

A scripture that really stuck out to me this week was Romans 8:25-26
 25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
 26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself makethintercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

One last thing, at the end of the Book of Mormon, the Nephites are ridiculous. I think I've said it before, but I'll say it again. In 3 Nephi 6, the Nephites had just barely gotten saved and preserved by the Lord. But they start to go wicked again. But in verse 14 it says,

...The church was broken up in all the land save it were among a few of the Lamanites who were converted unto the true faith; and theywould not depart from it, for they were firm, and steadfast, and immovable, willing with all diligence to keep the commandments of theLord.

Let's strive to be like the Lamanites! Firm, steadfast, immovable.

Well, I love y'all! I hope that you have a most wonderful week!
Sister Gilbert

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Oh what a weeks it's been this week - 12.1.2014

First and Foremost, I love being a missionary!
Second and secondmost, I don't like being sick.
Third and thirdmost, it's been a pretty good week.

Monday, we were able to teach JO again. He's progressing along very well, and we will have a baptism for him in January. Kinda far away, but it will work. We are so excited to continue working with him, and also just helping his family progress more in the gospel. For thanksgiving, his grandparents gave him and his two brother each a brand new quad. Pretty good gift if you ask me!

Tuesday: Way good day! We had a zone meeting! Sister Parkinson and I got to do a training! We talked about Being Problem Solvers Not Problem Finders. It was wonderful. We also had a TON of pecans and apples, so we solved our problem and made pecan pie and apple pie for our zone. It was fun. I love the Spirit that we are able to feel at meetings and to be able to strengthen and uplift each other. After a delicious lunch with the Elders, we set off to Big Sandy with BRI and BRE (two young women in the ward) to try to find some less-actives/new investigators down there. We were trying to find a less-active at an apartment complex, but it turns out he had moved. So we decided to divide and conquer and to knock the doors at this complex. So I went with BRE and we had a grand old time. We were actually able to get into a door! It was so amazing. The girl, NA, answered the door and we just started talking about the Savior and how he is the wonderful gift that our Heavenly Father has given to us. We asked if we could go in and share more of our message. She told us to hold on. So we stood on her porch for a good 10 minutes. We were about to leave, but she opened up the door and invited us in. Turns out that she was house sitting and wanted to make sure that it was okay if we came in. We talked about God's plan for us, and how He has set a way to ensure that we will make it back to live with him. She told us that just the day before she had been talking to her friend about dying. Her friend was scared to die. NA said that she isn't scared to die, just scared of where she will go. We told her that if we follow God's direction for us that we will be able to make it back to live with Him. She said that it was so reassuring to hear there and she thought it was crazy that she had just been talking about it the week before. It was just wonderful and BRE was able to add a very powerful testimony as well. What a good time. Later that day, we had 30 minutes that we didn't know what to do with. So we went up to town to knock on some doors. We ended up running into one of our potential investigators and being able to set up a return appointment with them! So awesome. Tuesday was a truly wonderful day.

Wednesday: Kind of a weird day. We stopped by a lady in the ward's house to visit her. Pretty sure she had her thermostat set to like 97 degrees. I was hot by the time we left there! When we got home from that, there was a big red cooler sitting on our front porch! It was potatoes from Sister Parkinson's family! So awesome. :) We were also able to invite one of our less-actives to start doing missionary work and inviting his friends/family members to listen to a message from us! We are really proud of him!

Thursday: Yay, Thanksgiving! We went over to the bishops family in the morning so Sister Parkinson could make some delicious Idaho mashed potatoes! They were so good. Then off to 2 dinner appointments...... I was one STUFFED missionary. But we had a really good time. It was wonderful to be with the them and then with another family later in the evening and to be able to feel of their love for us. I am one blessed Sister!

Friday: We had a way awesome lesson with JA. We're working really hard on having interactive lessons with him to keep him attentive and participating in the lessons. So we turned the gospel of Jesus Christ into a board game! It was pretty fun. We also had a good meeting with MA where we wrote Letters to Jesus Christ. It was a really spiritual experience for me, actually.

Saturday: I had a way bad ear ache, so we called the mission nurse and doctor to figure out what I needed to do. We ended up going to Longview to get it checked out at an Urgent Care. Turns out, I had/have an ear infection. When the doctor was looking at my ear, he said, "that's an angry ear!" no really. It was funny. But whatever, we got it worked out. After all those adventures, we went back to the bishops house for a little bonfire get together. Their son in law served his mission in Utah, and a family that he taught came out here to visit him. Their daughter, RI, is going on a mission in January, so we were able to talk to her and answer some questions for her.

Well it's been a good week folks. I'm so grateful for the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. Where would we be without his amazing week? I am so thankful for all that I have, and that I have the fulness of the gospel in my life.

I love y'all!
Have a lovely week!
Sister Gilbert