Sunday, June 28, 2015

Hello! Hello! 6.22.2015

Hello, hello!!

This has been one of the stranger weeks of my mission, that's for sure. Since we received iPads last week, there are some fancy apps that we get to use, one of which being the Area Book Planner. This app combines our area books and planners into one convenient place (as you can probably gather from the name....). So we had a meeting on Thursday where we learned about the app and started entering in ALL the data and records of people who have been taught, who we are currently teaching, and who are potential investigators. Needless to say we have worked for about 10+ hours and are still not done. Once it's finished though, it will be really nice. :)

We had a really good lesson with JU, a recent convert. We talked about the Spirit World, and she asked a ton of good questions. I love when the people we are teaching help out with the lesson so much. It certainly makes things nice. :)

This summer we get to help out with some children and youth family history camps that the McKinney Stake is putting on. We've just helped with one so far, but it's really cool to see the kids get excited about their families. I love family history. Also, there was the news conference that Family Search did to launch the Freedmen's Bureau Project. Our stake hosted an event for local ministers and leaders to come. A sister from our ward was in charge of the catering, so we got to help her with that! It was a wonderful service opportunity. 

We were able to see JO again! We reviewed the Restoration focusing on Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. JO said, "If someone were to claim that they had seen God and He had given them a record to translate in these days, they would get locked up!" We were able to explain to him that that's exactly what happened to Joseph Smith, that righteousness and goodness is often persecuted. We helped him see that opposition will always come to truth and good things and that Satan will always try to persuade us away from doing good things like reading the scriptures, praying and attending church. It was a good visit. Also, he came to church again!! And he brought his two daughters with him as well. Our Sunday School lesson was very powerful once again - a great discussion about the freedom to choose. It's amazing how it all just flows together. I am grateful for members to help bear their testimonies. One kind of crazy thing that happened: during Sacrament Meeting, a youth speaker mention Heavenly Parents. JO pulled us aside, and asked about it, saying "Heavenly Parents, like a Heavenly Mother?" With the help of our ward missionary, we were able to explain it to him and testify that the family is ordained of God. He said, "I always believed that it only made sense for there to be Heavenly Mother since there was a Father and a Son. It makes sense." It's amazing to see how receptive he is. He definitely has his fair share of struggles, but it's cool to see the wheels start turning and to have the ward just reach out and love him so much. 

Also, I am so grateful for fathers! At dinner last night, we shared the Mormon Message Earthly Father, Heavenly Father . I was thinking about my wonderful dad, Scot, and also our wonderful Heavenly Father. I love the quote, "Of all the titles of respect and honor and admiration that are given to deity, He has asked us to address him as Father" by the Quorum of the Twelve. How true is that. We have the opportunity to pray daily to the Supreme Being in the universe, and we get the privilege to call him Father. I love that. I love that we are children of God, that He loves us perfectly, that our whole existence is because He loves us and wants us to be able to return to live with Him as exalted and perfected beings. How I love Him!

Much love,
Sister Gretchen Gilbert

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Winds of Change 6.15.15

So, it's been a great week! I got a new companion, Sister Jesslyn Whittier. She is from Cedar City, Utah and has been on her mission for 6 months. She's super bubbly and excited and also has a beautiful singing voice. We've had a great week so far,and I'm excited to spend this transfer with her. Also, the winds of change brought in new technological advances - iPads. This has definitely been a week of learning and relying on the Lord as we try to implement the technology into our missionary work. Thankfully, we have a lot of resources and training to help us with that. Whew.

Okay, stories and miracles time. 
So on Tuesday we went and introduced Sister Whittier to ST. She loved her right off the bat, so that was really cool. So then Friday morning we had our lesson with her. She was telling us that she had had a really bad MS week, and that she just spent a lot of time doing research and stuff on it. Then she got really serious, looked us in the eyes and told us that she loves us. Then she told us that she will not be converting and that she won't be attending church anymore because she feels like she just needs to focus on researching her MS. She told us that she believes Mr. Smith's story and that the Book of Mormon is true. But she did say that she loves praying and reading with us, so we decided we are still going to read the Book of Mormon and pray with her. I started bawling as I was trying to tell her how much I loved her, but more importantly, how much Heavenly Father loves her. I testified that the gospel is true and that it's the thing that will bring us the most happiness and joy. So, I kind of got my heart ripped out a little. It's hard to see people not want to be a part of the most beautiful and happy part of my life [the gospel]. But I still love ST. I'm saddened by her disease and by her choice, but I pray that she will continue along the path and at some point in time whether in this life or in the next she will fully accept and embrace the gospel as I know she is capable of doing. 

Friday we had a lesson with BE and FL. We planned to teach the commandment "Follow the Prophet." Before we formally started the lesson, we were talking about the baptismal interview and he got a little nervous, so we suggested that we could go over the baptismal interview questions. He agreed. So he pretty much agrees/believes everything, except question 2 which is: "Do you believe the Church and gospel of Jesus Christ have been restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith? Do you believe that Thomas S Monson is a prophet of God?" So, we just dove right into the lesson we had planned for him. We showed him a clip called, "Words of the Prophets" which is the testimonies of all the modern day prophets. Then we just testified of the prophets and their divinity. Cool news though: he's read 1 Nephi two times, and is into 2 Nephi 9. Also, we gave him a conference talk to watch and he watched it twice. I think his testimony will come. He knows what he needs to do, now he just needs to do it. 

Saturday! Coolest thing. Okay, so we had about 30 minutes of time between appointments, so we got out our list of potential investigators - people who missionaries had talked to in the past, gotten their information, but nothing had really happened. So, we were calling people, and we called a man named JO. Sister Weichers and I had met him previously during all the ice storms in February. So we called him and told him that we wanted to come share our message about the gospel of Jesus Christ and God's plan for strong families. He responded that he had just been thinking about how messed up his family is, that he was questioning God's purpose for him, and whether or not God really existed. We asked if we could teach him a a lesson, to which he agreed, but only on the terms that it was just too coincidental that he had just been thinking about it. So we met him at the park an hour later and taught him the restoration. It went pretty well, and we committed him to come to church.

Well, lo and behold, Sunday morning, he walks into church!! He sat with our ward mission leader who was able to explain sacrament meeting. Then we had gospel principles. We had a less-active from another ward with her sister and niece, our ward missionary and her friend, our ward mission leader and his girlfriend, and just another fellowshipper, plus JO. We discussed Jesus Christ as our Savior and Redeemer. It was a beautiful discussion! That was the best sunday school class I have EVER been to. The Spirit was so strong. I was so grateful for the comments that were shared. JO ended up staying all 3 hours, and he loved it. Even the transformation that we saw in him from Saturday to Sunday was amazing. By the end of Sunday he was grinning from ear to ear. I know that the gospel softens hearts!

Okay, spiritual insights from the week: 
  • At transfer meeting, I heard two statements that really influenced me. "What would Jesus Christ do as He went to buy bread at the supermarket?" That really made me reflect on my day-to-day interactions with people.
  • The other statement was "Walk the Sandal-ed Path." Like, walk the path that our Savior Jesus Christ walks. Loved it. 
  • I can personally become an epistle of Jesus Christ.
  • From "Seeking the Lord" by  Elder Jose A Teixeira from general conference: "As we deepen our understanding of the Savior, we will have an increased desire to live joyfully and a conviction that joy is possible. Consequently, we will have a greater enthusiasm for life and for keeping the commandments of God." Loved it. I love the word enthusiasm - the spirit of God in us.

I am so grateful for this gospel!! I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is God's kingdom on the earth today. I am so thankful that I have this time to be spreading the glorious gospel with the people in McKinney.


Sister Gretchen Julie Gilbert

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Mighty McKinney 6.8.2015

Hey y'all!!!

It's been another beautiful week here in the Texas Dallas Mission specifically Mighty McKinney!

We were able to teach little BR two times this week. We taught the Plan of Salvation and the Gospel of Jesus Christ which she just loved and accepted. I love that little girl. She's going out of town for 2 weeks, so sadly we won't be able to teach her for a while, but when she gets home, she should be good to go! Love it. Also, we had the opportunity to go to family home evening with President and Sister Taylor. That was wonderful. I love every opportunity that I have to be in their home. They are such lovely people, and I know that I was called here to serve not only the people of the Dallas Area, but also to serve with the Taylors. 

We were also able to teach ST twice this week. We talked about covenants, specifically baptism and where it's found in the Book of Mormon. We also introduced her to family history a little bit, and taught her about proxy baptisms. She loved that doctrine. I love when it just makes sense for people.

Wednesday we helped a little boy in the ward with his math homework. That was a great service opportunity. We also had a lesson with the YOs. We talked about the Plan of Salvation, but we taught it from an Identity, Purpose, and Destiny perspective. I felt so uplifted at the conclusion of the lesson, and I'm know that SU and Sister YO did as well. Sister YO is just so incredible. She is in-tune with the Spirit and is willing to live by God's will for her. She is a woman of great faith (even though she doesn't recognize it) and teaching SU how to live a righteous life. I am so proud of her. 

Friday we had zone meeting. Oh my goodness, I just love this zone so much! As we all shared our testimonies and insights, the Spirit was strong. I am grateful for the power and authority that we as missionaries have been given. It's been amazing to see the changes in these Elders, even in just the 4 months that I have been around them. Sister Weichers and I had the opportunity to train about Companions. It was so nice. We used Sister Burton's talk, "We'll Ascend Together." I love 2 quotes from her talk: "Thee lift me, and I'll lift thee, and we'll ascend together" and "When we seek to complete, rather than compete, it is so much easier to cheer each other on." I love my companion. It was so easy to train about companions with her. :)

Saturday we had the opportunity to attend the temple with a sister from our ward. I love the temple. I love the Spirit that is there. I gained many new insights and found a lot of comfort in the temple. I am so grateful that Heavenly Father loves us and gives us the things that we need to be able to return to Him. The Plan of Happiness is perfect. There are no details missing. The Atonement is the beautiful center of that Plan, and I am so grateful for it. I am grateful for the strength that I find through it. 

After the temple, we had a lesson with TY again, finally. We had a couple from the ward come with us, and I am SO thankful that they did. Brother P really answered and addressed her concerns better than I could have. He also dedicated her home. It was a beautiful lesson. I am so thankful for the priesthood.

In retrospect, my testimony has been deeply strengthened this week in many aspects. The Restoration, the Book of Mormon, the Gospel, the Priesthood, prayer, scripture study, the Atonement, the Plan of Salvation. I can testify with my heart that I know this church is true. I know that God's power is on the earth today, held by worthy men, but that the blessings of the priesthood are available to all. 

As this transfer ends, I am really sad to see Sister Weichers being transferred. She has been an absolute joy to serve with. I know that God has great things in store for me and for her though.

I love this work. I love each of you!

Friday, June 5, 2015

A Week of Miracles and LOTS of Rain! 6.1.2015

Hey there! It's been another week of miracles and of LOTS of rain!
Here are some highlights from the week:
  • iPad training meeting on Wednesday. We were very blessed to have Elder Brent H. Nielson of the quorum of the 70 come to visit us along with Brother Kelly Mills. Elder Nielson gave the "Waiting for the Prodigal" talk at general conference. It was wonderful to spend the morning with them! After a 4 hour training, we ate bagels and fruit, and put on t-shirts, basketball shorts, and tennis shoes. Then we did a 5k as a mission! It was awesome! We called it, "One Mighty Run." It was hot, I got blisters on my meet, but it was great! It's always such a pleasure to see all the missionaries. I love this mission! We finished the day up with a mission bbq. Can I just say how much I love Texas, especially the Texas Dallas Mission?!
  • Wonderful lesson with ST once again! She was worried about how she would fit into the church as a single, older woman. She's so wonderful! She said, "I'm not looking for conversion.....but........" then just kind of gave of this smile and look that just said, "But I'm highly considering it!" Love her. :) She came to church on Sunday, stayed all 3 hours, participated fully in gospel principles, and just LOVED it. The ward just attached right to her. Love her! Can't wait to see how things progress with her. :)
  • This week we have been doing a service scavenger hunt! We were able to get in with a less-active family. We vacuumed their car, then shared a scripture. The kids were so happy that we came. Another miracle from this: We went to go do service for some members, but they weren't home, however, their across the street neighbor was outside about to mow the lawn. We asked if we could mow for her. She said no, but we finally got her to hesitantly agree. I mowed the lawn and Sister Weichers just chatted with her. She had actually recently been to Salt Lake and toured a bunch of the church sites. We shared a Book of Mormon scripture with her (Alma 7:11-12) and prayed with her. She wouldn't accept a return appointment, but she definitely accepted a Book of Mormon saying, "I'm going to read this book this summer." Love it!
  • We had a great lesson with BE and FL. I love them! I am proud of them. :)
  • There was a farewell and homecoming in one of our wards. It made me so grateful to be here on my mission! I love serving and I love helping people come unto Christ. It's the best job!
Here's a cool insight I learned from Elder Nielson: 
Agency has to be given to you. God gave it to us to act on the principles that we know. Moral agency is the exercise of agency in making a covenant. Once we covenant, we are bound. Let's say we are given $1000 of agency. Once we covenant, we invest $1000 of it (all of it) to God. Once you've chosen God, all of your other decision have already been decided. We still get to choose, but we decide wether we will keep covenants or not. Also, as missionaries, we have representative agency to act in Christ's name. 
I love y'all! Have a wonderful week!

Sister Gilbert