It's been another beautiful week in Texas. I celebrated my one year mark this week. I can't believe how the time as flown by. It's been long, hard, hot, disappointing, but it's also been beautiful, rewarding, spiritual, inspiring, and lovely. I love it here. I love being a missionary. :)
We had some great experiences this week. We got to help with a youth family history camp again. It's so great to see the excitement of these kids to learn about the ancestors but also how to record stories about their family now.
We had a great lesson with AB. We were talking about the temple and eternal marriages. After talking about the sealing power found within the temple, AB said, "I used to want to get married on the beach. But now I want to get married in the temple and just have an after party or something at the beach." I thought that was the sweetest thing.
We also saw BE and FL. BE's granddaughter has been here for the past month, and it has been a pleasure to have gotten to know her. She's just a sweet girl. BE is doing well! We pushed his baptismal date back a week because he'll be out of town, but things are looking good for them! Whew!
We had a good visit with ST. We read the vision of the tree of life in 1 Nephi 8. The part where it talks about Lehi being a tender really stuck out to her. I'm grateful that she loves the Book of Mormon and is willing to learn from it.
GOOD NEWS!! Sister Whittier and I were able to finish entering all of the area book information into our ipads! Holy tolito!! That was so much work. But it's done, and it feels good.
I got to have cheese-less pizza on my "birthday." That was lovely. Yum.
Friday we had a darling girl from 7th ward come out with us. We tried by a couple of formers, knocked doors for a while, and ended up visiting a family in the ward. It is always so good to be with the youth. They are amazing. I loved hearing her testimony of the gospel. Simple but powerful - the way it should.
Also on Friday we had dinner with a family at the famous Hutchins BBQ. Seriously, everybody, get yourself out here to McKinney to partake of the goodness of Hutchins. Their brisket is beyond delicious. After stuffing ourselves silly, we went back to their home and were able to share a message with them. Usually BR will leave while we do the spiritual thought, but he stayed and it was lovely.
Okay, people. Here's the update on JO. So after having a very trying week with his mother and housing situation, all was able to be worked out. Then on Saturday, we had him and his son over to the Gutierrez's for a lesson. We started by watching, "We Can Find Happiness" a mormon message that shows 3 individuals' experiences with discovering the joys of the gospel. He loved it. He also asked, "Wait, I chose to come to earth?" That just amazed him. We continued in the conversation. He brought up a point and said, "I have the hardest time forgiving myself of the things that I've done wrong and just letting God take care of it." So we switched the lesson over on the spot and taught the gospel of jesus christ focusing on how baptism and the reception of the holy ghost makes it possible for us to be relieved of guilt. We talked about the priesthood, and Bro Gutierrez showed him his priesthood line of authority. He said, "Yes I understand and remember this."THEN WE SET A BAPTISMAL DATE WITH HIM!! Woohooooo. August 1! Sister Whittier invited him, and he kind of just sat there for a minute staring at us, but then he said yes. Oh the Spirit was strong. He also said, "Something deep inside of me remembers all these things that you're teaching me. I finally have answers to so many questions." It's been amazing to work with JO. I've never experienced seeing the gospel truly change someone this quickly like it has with JO. In Sunday School yesterday, he said, "I used to not understand the purpose of life or where I came from or anything. But now I understand. And we just have to stay on the path to return to God. Also, we have to tell people about this [the gospel] because it's amazing!" I teared up, and just realized that he gets it. He understands the gospel. And we've only known him for 2 weeks. The gospel is beautiful, people. It changes lives. I've seen it. And it's glorious. JO was also able to go in with Sis Gutierrez as she got set apart for her calling and see the power of the priesthood in action.
I am so grateful for the gospel. I am so grateful for my wonderful companion, Sister Whittier. I love this mission. It's so good. My heart is very full today as I type this. Thanks for your love and your support. It makes a big difference.
I love y'all!
Sister Gretchen Julie Gilbert