Monday, March 23, 2015

Happy 9 Months?! 3.23.2015

Holy Tolito! I hit my 9 month mark this week (aka on Wednesday). Where has the time gone? I honestly can't believe that I've been out this long. What a great journey it's been so far though!

This week has rocked! Week 1 of transfer #7. Love it. 

Here's a quick play by play/list of miracles from this week. (And when I say quick, I really mean really long.)

We were finally able to connect with 4 or so less-actives that we hadn't previously been able to get in contact with! So that was awesome. On Tuesday we felt impressed to go drop by one of our members and share a scripture with her. So we did. She told us that she'd like to go out teaching with us, so we were able to coordinate with her to have her come with us to read scriptures with a less-active male that we haven't been able to visit because we just couldn't find someone to come with us. So that was a huge blessing. 

We taught SU twice this week! For one of the lessons, we had another mom/daughter combination come with us. We taught the plan of salvation, and Sister McLaws and her daughter were both able to testify of the plan. It was so sweet. Then we saw SU and her mom (who is a less-active member) again on Saturday. We weren't able to find a member to come with us, so we just went. It ended up going really well. SU's mom was able to help teach parts of The Gospel of Jesus Christ to her, so that was really amazing to see. :)

Sister Weichers and I both had really profound statements that I'd like to share:
  • Sister Weichers: Finding people is what builds us but when we find them, God gives us the opportunity to help build them too. It's a 9:1 ratio. 90% of the time we are being built and 10% of the time we build.
  • Sister Gilbert: It's not that the mantle of responsibility has gotten any lighter, it's just that we've gotten stronger.
We got to start helping out at some GED classes. We're just tutoring the students and giving them one-on-one help. The people are very humble and very dedicated. I'm excited to see where it will go.

We got to go to the temple and see the PR family (a family from Gilmer) receive their endowments and be sealed together for time and eternity. It was even their anniversary! Oh it was a special day. And even better, Sister Weichers and I both were able to find a family name to take to the temple. So, it was just wonderful.
Sister Weichers and Sister Gilbert at the Dallas Temple
So on Saturday we had an hour or so before dinner. We had planned to knock doors on a street called Sunflower. So we drove over there, chose a side of the street and started knocking. The first door no one was home. The next door, a guy answered. We gave our normal contact ("We're missionaries form the Church.... We're sharing a message about Jesus Christ and His gospel and how His gospel can greatly bless our families. Would you be willing to listen to our message?"). Typically people will say no. BUT TODAY WAS DIFFERENT. This man said yes! (PS his name is FR). So we taught FR the Restoration on his doorstep! He works with a Mormon lady and had a bunch of questions about the Word of Wisdom, Joseph Smith, and the Book of Mormon. We were able to answer some of them, and he was genuinely interested. So we asked for a return appointment, and he said yes again! We got his information and went along our way. Obviously, Sister Weichers and I were very excited! So we kept knocking the doors on Sunflower. At the next 6 or so houses, no one answered the door. Then we knocked on a door and a guy answered. We totally recognized him. Turns out, we had knocked on his door like a month prior and he had told us no. We came to realize, that we had ALREADY KNOCKED SUNFLOWER. But we had just totally forgotten and not made a record of it anywhere. If we had remembered though, we wouldn't have knocked the street again and we never would have found FR!! Oh my goodness. It was just so amazing. Oh, and the best part is that it's in 7th ward, where the work has previously been much slower. BOO YEAH.

And last but not least, we had 12 new people (investigators and less-actives who haven't been previously) at church in 7th ward!!!! SU was one of these along with her mom, dad, sister, and brother!!!!!!! Okay, it was just amazing and SUCH a miracle!!

What an amazing week it has been in the old Texas Dallas Mission. Love. It. 

Cool insight from an 8 year old this week: 
CTR - choose the right
RTC - return to christ.

I can testify that Jesus is the Christ. He loves us. He loves you. He loves me. I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God and how grateful I am for his sacrifices! And "[I] know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28). How grateful I am for this gospel!

One last thing from President Monson: You will one day stand aside and look at your difficult times, and you will realize that He was always there beside you. Oct 2013 We Never Walk Alone.

I love y'all!! 

Sister Gilbert

PS if you want good brisket, come to Texas. :)  

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

There is sunshine in my soul today - 3.16.2015

Oh what a good week it has been! Miracles as always! The sun is shining and the grass is green in good-o Texas.

Thursday we had the wonderful opportunity to meet with Elder Bradley D. Foster of the 70. And OH BOY what a great meeting it was!! I was able to lead the music for the meeting and it was a wonderful privilege to look out on all the singing missionaries. There's just something about a large group of Elders and Sisters singing hymns together. Also, my pen wouldn't write fast enough, but there were some really good concepts that I took from the meeting.

  • We must have faith that the Savior has great faith in us. 
  • You don't have to be perfect to be a good missionary.
  • "I have been selected as a personal representative of the Savior Jesus Christ. My commission is to do what He wants done." 
  • Sometimes we have to look back to our ancestors in order to move forward. Family History is past, present, and future. 
  • Keep the end in mind. Who do I want to be by the end of my mission. How will my last prayer as a missionary be? 
  • Self esteem comes from doing esteem-able things every day. 
  • Prayer is an act of faith, love, and agency. Praying authorizes the Lord to bless us. Action before answers.
  • And last but not least, The Lord knows me, Sister Gretchen Julie Gilbert.

Then on Saturday we worked at the Family History Booth at Trade Days again (like a flea market/swap meet). I was taught a great lesson: the Lord is the one who softens hearts. I can try as hard as I want/am able, but the Spirit is the great convincer. When the people are ready, they will be ready. We had several people just open right up to us about family history and express their interest.

Here's a neat miracle we had this morning! There's a family who lives in our apartment complex that we haven't been able to meet yet. This morning we were walking down to the mail box for Sister Weichers to mail some letters, and we saw a lady walking down the stairs. I saw her and knew that it was JE, from the family we've been trying to meet. Sister Weichers told me afterward that she knew it was her too. So we were able to talk to her and introduce ourselves and get a return appointment! We'll be seeing her on Wednesday evening.

Also, last night we were just doing some stop-bys, and we were finally able to get in with a family. They told us that they were recently traveling in San Francisco. They went to the visitors center at the Oakland temple and had a really good experience with the missionaries there. Then they were out walking in downtown San Fran and met another pair of missionaries. They had a good conversation with them as well. We were really glad to hear that they had been having such positive experiences with missionaries lately. We continue to pray that their hearts will be softened and opened. We had a really good discussion with them about Jesus Christ and got a return appointment with them for tonight!!

The work is going well. I also feel like I have grown and progressed more in this transfer than the rest of my mission put together. I've learned a lot about trust, prayer, and relying fully on the Lord. It feels like God's will this transfer was to strengthen and build Sister Gilbert. Even though it hurt at times, I am very grateful for that.

Sister Weichers and I are blessed enough to stay together another transfer in good-o McKinney, Texas. I love it here. I have officially adopted Texas as my second home. Deep in the heart of Texas, Sister Gilbert fell in love with the big skies and awesome sunsets and just the whole deal.

But even more than I love Texas, I love Jesus Christ. Oh how dearly I love Him. I know that He lives. I'd be willing to die for Him, but more importantly, I'm willing to live for Him and dedicate my life to his service!!

I also love all of y'all too. :)

Much love,
Sister Gilbert

ps we got a car. no longer living the bike life.

pics: the most delicious pie ever. unfortunately it wasn't eaten on pi day.... but i'll still include it. It was called Cloud 9. It had a layer of sea salt carmel, then butterscotch custard with a brown sugar meringue. Yum.

happy pi day. ;)

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

3.9.2015 Snow in Texas!

Hello Folks! 

It's been a good week! We had a district and zone meeting this week, which were both wonderful! At Zone Meeting, we talked all about having confidence and being MIGHTY. The Elder who trained on confidence said that confidence comes from charity. When you think of Christ and His life, He was always confident and that came from his charity. Wonderful message.

Then we talked about becoming MIGHTY missionaries. Just powerful, enthusiastic missionaries. I've decided to focus on being mighty in my faith. To do so, I'm going to not limit God and his power by striving to talk to everyone. This has been something that's been hard for me on my mission, but I have a new resolve to do so. To accomplish this, I'm going to have more mighty prayers to have the confidence and trust to do so. Oh such good meetings. I feel like they turned my mission around. Not that I was a bad missionary, but I had gotten to a point of comfortableness, so I'm stepping it up and keeping it up to be a mighty missionary until the end. 

Good news!! We finally were able to meet again with SU (a 9 year old from a part member family who hasn't been baptized yet). We taught her the first lesson, the Restoration using the cups (like you build a pyramid and have it represent the church). She loved it and so did her dad. We brought a sister from the ward and her 9 year old daughter as well. Sister M was able to bear a really powerful testimony about the Atonement. We were all definitely feeling the Spirit. Then, we extended a baptismal invitation to SU and she accepted!! Her date is April 11 as of now. She and her parents will just have to keep appointments and make it to church, and she'll be on track! The cherry on top of the lesson was at the end when we asked her to pray. She did such a good job and expressed thanks that she is able to CHOOSE to get baptized. It's wonderful hearing those words come out of anyone's mouth, yet alone a 9 year olds. 

Wednesday I was a sick dog. High fever and stuff.

But Thursday the heavens opened and it snowed! Like fluffy Utah snow. So beautiful.

Friday we got a new investigator named ST. She is a referral from a member of a ward that we don't cover. She has MS but has great faith in God. We gave her a book of mormon and she was so excited! She has already started reading it. She told us that she is so proud of us for our missions and that she could just tell that we were angels sent from God. Then she prayed and oh it was just beautiful. She's very intune with the Spirit. Also, she made me feel really good about myself, so that was nice. After zone meeting, we were able to contact 3 other referrals and then 3 more after dinner. Never have I had so many referrals! Like all the referrals I've received this transfer is more than the rest of my mission put together. So that's been really neat! We finished Fridayup with a good lesson with JE and CI. We talked briefly about the why of obedience, but mostly focused on God's love. Our thoughts came mostly from "Living the Gospel Joyful" and "Forget Me Not" both by President Uchtdorf. So good. 

Saturday I got to help tutor a kid in the ward with some algebra! Loved it! We also got ice cream with the E family, so that was highlight of my life. 

Oh, I love this gospel so much! It has changed me! And I've seen it change others as well. 

I love y'all! I also love Texas!

Sister Gilbert

3.2.2015 It's My Place to Love

Oh my, what a crazy week it's been. The weather has made the work very cold and very icy, but we ended up having a wonderful week! Not that numbers are important, but we taught 24 lessons this week - the most I've taught any week of my mission so far. I am so so grateful for the members that we've been able to get rides from.

 Also, I've pretty much lost my mind. I write everything down, but still manage to forget this and get confused. It's all good though - it just leads to embarrassing moments. Like I wrote down appointments at the wrong times, so we ended up at the wrong house an hour early. Luckily, it was visits with members and they were understanding and lived really close together. They lovingly helped us out and straighten out our evening. 
Don't worry, that's just a sheet of ice on everything!

We had an awesome experience this week. Some members in our ward, the E Family, told us that Brother E's father who is a non-member had been visiting with them. They invited us over for dinner, so that we could get to know them and him. Well, we got over there, and the father wasn't even there. He had gotten held up in Dallas or somewhere. So we had a good dinner, got to know the family and their 4 adorable kids better, and actually got a referral from them as well for one of their neighbors. The E were really disappointed that their father wasn't there, so we rearranged our dinner calendar and got another dinner appointment with them for 2 days later. Between the times that we saw them, the father agreed to listen to a missionary lesson! According to the family, this is a huge miracle. He had kicked Brother E out of the house when he joined the church and was just pretty cold and not interested in learning about the church. Well, over the last couple of years and the last couple of months specifically, the father's heart has been incredibly softened. He came to Texas to spend time with his son and grandkids which he had never previously done. He felt like there was a purpose and a reason to his coming to Texas. Okay, back to the story. So we went back to their house and had a delicious dinner of biscuits and gravy. (I love the South. Delicious.) Then we just started chatting about the gospel. We eventually moved into the living room and gave him the first lesson, all about the Restoration. He had a lot of questions, but we were able to testify and to help him understand prophets, Joseph Smith, and the Book of Mormon much better. He agreed to read the Restoration pamphlet AND the Book of Mormon. He also gave the prayer at the end of the lesson and asked if the Book of Mormon is true. We aren't sure if we'll have the opportunity to teach him any other lessons seeing as he is from California and will be going home soon, but we (and the E family) are so grateful that he had the opportunity to hear about the gospel and to start his journey. Sister E told us that he has been so excited about reading the Book of Mormon. Oh, it just makes me so happy. This is what it's all about. Changing hearts. 

Thursday was a good adventure! The Sister Training Leaders (Sister Aumua (my trainer) and Sister Griffin (who I served with in Allen)) came up to McKinney for a district building activity we did. It was wonderful to spend time with them. We also saw a bunch of miracles! We committed a recent convert's non-member brother (who is 9) to come to church! He hasn't been interested previously in coming to church because he thought it was boring and didn't really understand the purpose. But we answered some of his questions and helped him feel comfortable. And guess what?! HE CAME! Oh we were so happy. This kid is definitely taking steps in the right direction. Sister Weichers and Sister Aumua also committed our other recent convert to bear his testimony in fast and testimony meeting and made a deal with him. If he bore his, we would bear ours as well. And he did! Oh, there is nothing like seeing a recent convert bear testimony and share their conversion story. 

We also had a good visit with a less-active, VA. She told us of an amazing experience she had. For most of her life, she just didn't understand the Atonement or the importance of church or tithing or the word of wisdom or anything really. She fell away for a very long time, tried many different churches, and just wasn't happy. But in the last month or so, she got really sick and had to spend a significant amount of time in the hospital. During/after her stay there, she started reading the Book of Mormon. She said that as she's read the bible in the past, she really hasn't been able to understand it, but she said that the Book of Mormon just makes so much sense to her and that she loves the church and she may not understand everything perfectly, but she's ready to TRY. I love it. Oh it just made me so happy when I heard all of that. 

Sunday was marvelous. I just love fast and testimony meeting so much. That is one benefit of two wards. You get to hear twice as many testimonies! We finished the night up with another amazing lesson with JE and CI. We discussed the restoration and testified of prophets to CI. She's to the point where she recognizes that she is going to have to make some changes in her life if she wants to get baptized. We are going to work on helping her with coffee, but I have high hopes for her.

Besides so many wonderful events this week: I've also learned some really good lessons. The main lesson that I learned was humility. I've definitely received several slices of humble pie. As I look back on the week, I needed the pie. But in the moment it was definitely hard. I realized that I had been quick to judge without knowing the whole situation. This definitely wasn't fair to those individuals who were doing their best. It's really not my place to judge them, but it is my place to love them. I've also learned a lot about humility from having the opportunity to be so dependent on the members - for rides, for dinners, for other scheduling things. I am here to serve, but conversely so, I have the opportunity to be given service as well, and I need to let those people serve. 

Here's a scripture that I bumped into this week that illustrates this point quite nicely. 
Alma 58:9-12
 9 And now the cause of these our embarrassments, or the cause why they did not send more strength unto us, we knew not; therefore we were grieved and also filled with fear, lest by any means the judgments of God should come upon our land, to our overthrow and utter destruction.

 10 Therefore we did pour out our souls in prayer to God,that he would strengthen us and deliver us out of the hands of our enemies, yea, and also give us strength that we might retain our cities, and our lands, and our possessions, for the support of our people.

 11 Yea, and it came to pass that the Lord our God did visit us with assurances that he would deliver us; yea,insomuch that he did speak peace to our souls, and did grant unto us great faith, and did cause us that we should hope for our deliverance in him.

 12 And we did take courage with our small force which we had received, and were fixed with a determination to conquer our enemies, and to maintain our lands, and our possessions, and our wives, and our children, and the cause of our liberty.

Sometimes my situations lead me to be embarrassed or ashamed, but I can turn to the Lord for strength and for peace and for faith. How grateful I am for that. 

I've also felt the burden of not being enough, of not measuring up to some unrealistic set of expectations that I feel is before me (or maybe that I put up for myself....I tend to do that often). But in Sunday School yesterday a thought crossed my mind:
"I'm not asking you to measure up, Gretchen. I'm just asking you to do your best and to rely on me." How grateful I am for that peace.

Also, I have to give a plug for a talk that Sister Weichers introduced me to. 
Notwithstanding My Weakness by Elder Maxwell. Here's the link.

Well, I love you! I know that God lives! I know the Atonement can make a huge impact on our lives!

Sister Gilbert