Sunday, August 23, 2015

Miracles and Highlights 8.17.2015

Hello hello!!

Ahh, it's been a pretty astonishing week, that's for sure! I'll just give a recap including miracles and highlights!

We helped RA, a recent convert, get excited about doing baptisms for the dead! Hopefully we will be able to get her there soon! That would be awesome. 

After dinner on Tuesday, we went to contact an old referral. While walking up to his house, I saw a hispanic lady  walking around her house. I ran up to her and gave her a pass-along card with a picture of Christ on the front. I used my memorized spanish contact to try to converse with her. She spoke a little broken english, so Sister Durrant and I were able to communicate. The sweet lady just kept kissing the card and saying, "I love you Jesus." She started to cry, so  we asked what was wrong. She ended up explaining that her husband died 3 years ago, she has very little money, and she has lupus, high cholesterol, and diabetes. She works hard cleaning houses to maintain her home. Her family are all in Mexico right now. We just assured her the Christ loves her and we could send missionaries who spoke more Spanish. She readily agreed to that. As we were walking away, she called out, "You are my angels!" My heart melted. I felt so blessed to have been able to talk with her briefly. The referral ended up having moved, but I know that we were led there for a reason. 

We also saw KR. We were worried about the lesson because we had tried to coordinate to teach her at a member's house so the kids wouldn't be distracting, but everything had fallen through. We fervently prayed that it would go well. So we walked in, and KR told us that both her kids were asleep! Wow! That was a HUGE miracle. We taught her the restoration and the Spirit was definitely present. At the end, KR said, "It's over already? That was a good lesson!"

Thursday we had a wonderful zone conference with President and Sister Taylor and the Assistants. We just discussed the Spirit and it's importance in our work. I had a total booyah moment during the conference though. So over the past couple of weeks, I've really been thinking about my mission vision and how it didn't quite cover everything that I wanted it to anymore. While President and Sister Taylor were talking about the Spirit -- how it allows us to shine and to rise up -- I was definitely inspired to write some thoughts in my journal which led to me editing and improving my mission vision. I wrote, "I want to be filled with the Spirit. I want Christ's light to SHINE through me. I want to BE BRILLIANT." Here's another cool part: I recently bought a new study journal. On the front there are light bulbs and the words, "Be Brilliant." I realized that it was definitely inspired that I bought this journal to help remind me of my vision as I study everyday. So, my new vision is BE BRILLIANT with some subcategories of Arise & Shine and Reflect Love. I felt so empowered and that the Lord had definitely answered my prayer.

On Saturday we met with our investigator, ST. He is dating a member of the Garland 1st ward. His parents have been asking him a lot of questions and giving him a bit of grief for the things that he has been learning. Before the lesson, we had planned on briefly going over the articles of faith, then giving ST one of the pass-along cards to share with his dad. After we told ST what the articles of faith are, he said, "I could totally show these to my dad!" It was awesome; he extended our invitation to himself.

Can I just say how much I love my companion, Sister Durrant!? She is so happy, positive, intune, diligent, and fun. Oh boy, I love her! Heavenly Father has been so good to me on my mission. 

My Sabbath day was wonderful! We were able to attend Ward Council, and it was definitely a privilege to be in attendance. I am so amazed on how inspired the organization of the church is. Ward Councils are definitely inspired. Then sacrament meeting in Garland 1st was amazing. There were 4 young men who reported on the experiences they had on their 2 week adventures/hike. They drew some amazing parallels between their hike and life. Here are some highlights: We must pray for guidance and direction to stay on the path. "Prayer is one of the most precious gifts God gives to men." Never let an earthly circumstance dull your spirituality. Some skills that are useful while hiking and also in life: perseverance, optimism, unity. The journey may be long, but the finish will be sweet, and we can all make it.

It's been a wonderful week! I look forward to the adventures that this week brings!


Love you!
Sister Gretchen Julie Gilbert

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Wonderful, busy, good! 8.10.15


This week has been wonderful and busy and good and crazy. :)

Sister Durrant and I were able to set some personal and companion goals to give us some direction for our missions and stuff. It's fun to be with her because we've been out for the same amount of time, so we're experiencing a lot of the same feelings and emotions. We're really going to focus on getting to know our members and having good relationships with them. 

Tuesday night we had another lesson with RA. We taught her the Restoration, and it was just really nice to hear her bear testimony of the Book of Mormon and the Holy Ghost. It's always good to see the fire and light come back into someone's life.

We had an awesome zone meeting on Wednesday. One of our zone leaders, Elder Hernandez, gave a wonderful training on covenants. We had a great discussion about that. Our covenants and daily acts of devotion anchor us to the Savior. We read Helaman 5:12. Truly our covenants are what bind us safely to the Savior. There were also wonderful and powerful testimonies shared about the basics of the gospel. I had the opportunity to train on D&C 123:17. I know I've talked about this before,  but I love the concept of this scripture. We can cheerfully do all things that lie in our power, then we stand back and are able to see God's hand and his salvation -- his miracles and softened hearts. I found a talk from President Eyring, October 2002 called "Rise to Your Call" -- whether that be as missionaries or members serving in the church. His 3rd point -- God will magnify you -- resonated with me. Sometimes it is so easy to get stuck on the things that we are not doing, or we convince our selves that we are doing a terrible job because we have not lived up to unrealistic expectations that we have set for ourselves. Here's a quote from it. "You can have the utmost assurance that your power will be multiplied many times by the Lord. All He asks is that you give your best effort and your whole heart. Do it cheerfully and with the prayer of faith. The Father and His Beloved Son will send the Holy Ghost as your companion to guide you. Your efforts will be magnified in the lives of the people you serve. And when you look back on what may now seem trying times of service and sacrifice, the sacrifice will have become a blessing, and you will know that you have seen the arm of God lifting those you served for Him, and lifting you." I strongly encourage each of you reading this letter from me to go and read this talk and apply the principles found in it. It's so reassuring. The Lord is pleased with our work.

Thursday was the start of our crazy weekend. We saw ME, a recent convert. She had just gone to the temple the day before to do baptisms for the dead for the first time. She had a good experience and is excited to go back. We had a great discussion about the Holy Ghost -- she told us that at first she didn't really notice a big difference, but as time rolls on, she said that she feels like she is more calm, patient, loving with her kids and the people around us. I love that. This gospel helps us change our natures so that we can become more like the Savior. What a beautiful thing.

Thursday afternoon/evening was...... something else. We had an appointment with a less active family. The visit was awkward, tense, and contentious, and I was fighting back tears the whole time. We did extend an invitation to come to church and check out the ward, but it was hard. We left, got in the car, and I just started bawling. But I learned a couple valuable lessons that night. As the evening wore on, I realized how aware God is of me. He answered my prayer that I wouldn't start crying during the lesson. And as a tender mercy, we had dinner with a very kind family --the Spirit was very strong in their house. It was calming and peaceful. Also, I caught a glimpse of God's love for his children - specifically for  these less actives we had crossed paths with. I began to feel  love and concern for that family and how much I want to help bring the blessings of the gospel back into the center of their lives. I also learned that it could be beneficial to develop thicker skin. The final lesson of the evening would be that the success of a missionary isn't fully measured by the outward, immediate results such as baptism #s, activation efforts, etc. It's measured by how you live the rest of your life. 

Then Friday I was able to go on an exchange to McKinney! That was crazy to be back up there, but good. We saw JE, an investigator I had worked with while I was there. The lesson was very led by the Spirit. It's always such a pleasure to be at lessons like that. The sister that I was with was able to testify of the blessings of having the gifts of the Holy Ghost, and I reflected on that. What a wonderful blessing it truly is. 

Okay people -- Sunday is where the miracles happen. First and foremost, that less-active family from Thursday? Yeah, well they came to church. Sister Durrant nudged me and LO AND BEHOLD there they were walking into the chapel. Wow. And on top of that, sacrament meeting was powerful. The talks were all about studying the scriptures -- what a great reminder for all of us. Then finally, we taught another recent convert (Sister Thompson). Her 15 year old son who hasn't been baptized came in for the lesson. We used "A Secure Anchor" video again, and he was all over it. Hopefully that will progress into something good!

Well, I love all of you! Thanks for all you do!

Sister Gilbert
Typical Lunch

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Miracles and hard work - just the way I like it. 8.3.2015

Hello hello!

This has been another amazing week of miracles and hard work - just the way I like it.

I'll just share some of my thoughts and some of the miracles I've seen.

Tuesday we had a wonderful lesson with RA - a returning less-active. She expressed to us that she would like to be taught all the lessons, so she can regain her foundation. We were at a members home - the Meagers. So we briefly told her what all the concepts are, and asked if she had questions. She had a question about tithing, so we discussed that. But then after we had a really good discussion about trials and how the gospel of Jesus Christ can give us relief and peace from the craziness of the world. I had the opportunity to testify to RA that Heavenly Father loves her so much and has good things for her. We ended up showing her the Mormon Message "Good Things to Come" the story of Elder Holland's adventures with a broken down car. My favorite quote from that clip applies so much to my life and to the people I get to work with. "Don't you quit! You keep walking. You keep trying. There is help and happiness ahead. Some blessings come soon. Some come late, and some don't come till Heaven. But for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come. It will be all right in the end. Trust God, and believe in good things to come."

Wednesday we had the opportunity to go to mission leadership council. We had a crazy experience getting there though. So our zone leaders asked us if we could get there 30 minutes early for a brief meeting. We happily agreed and made plans to pick up the Hermanas down near downtown Dallas. So we set off 1.5 hours before the meeting, in order to get there in time. As we're driving down the road, there was a car in the median with its hood up and three people standing around. We were stopped due to traffic so we rolled down the window and asked if they needed help. They said, "YES! We need a jump start." So we flipped a u-turn and pulled up on the median. After a prayer and lots of tries, we were eventually able to get their car started, but it was amazing because one of the ladies in the car was a less-active who had been trying to just find the church and a ride to it for over 3 years! She was so happy to see us. Needless to say, we weren't able to give the Hermanas a ride or make it to the meeting 30 minutes early, but it was so fulfilling to be able to help someone and find one of the lost sheep. I am certainly not a believer in coincidences, so that was just other beautiful manifestation of Heavenly Father's awareness and love for his children. 

Wednesday and Saturday we had lovely lessons with ST - another returning less-active. We read and talked about "Where Justice, Love, and Mercy Meet" and discussed the Atonement. I am so grateful for the Atonement and for the love Jesus offers all of us. It's such a blessing.

I went on my first exchange as a Sister Training Leader on Friday with Sister Reboquio in Heath. She is such an amazing missionary. We saw so many miracles and were able to teach 5 RCLAs! It was wonderful. The last visit of the evening definitely stuck out to me the most though. Her name is HM, and the bishop had requested that the missionaries visit her. So we went over, and HM ended up telling us that she didn't like coming to church because she hadn't had anyone reach out to her. We ended up sharing the "Because of Him" Easter video and talked about the Atonement. Sister Reboquio bore a powerful testimony that Jesus Christ is always there reaching out to us, waiting for us to accept His love. Truly my heart was touched. HM ended up expressing deep gratitude for our visit that evening. Following the visit, Sister Reboquio told me of a commitment she's going to extended to active members - to reach out to 5 people you don't know at church. It was a good reminder to me of the important work we can do with the members.

While I was away, Sister Durrant was able to set 2 baptismal dates in our area, so that was way awesome. 

To wrap up the week, we were able to contact a referral Sunday evening and teach her the Restoration. It's just so amazing how the Spirit will lead us to the places we need to be in order to bless the people we meet. I am so grateful for that. Following that lesson, we had dinner with  our stake patriarch and his wife - a delicious meal of steak stir-fry, rice, and carrots and then grilled peaches with a peach puree, fresh honey, and mint on top. I'd have to say that was one of my favorite desserts I've had on my mission. Yum.

Oh man. Being a missionary is the greatest. I am so thankful for all the lessons I get to learn and for all the wonderful people I get to meet. This is truly a blessed time of my life.

I love each of you! Have a beautiful day!
Sister Gretchen Gilbert