Monday, September 14, 2015

9.14.2015 - Hello, hello!

Hello, hello!

It's been another lovely week here in the Texas Dallas Mission!

Here are some updates and miracles and stories!

Wednesday we had lunch with OR. It started as just a nice casual conversation, but then Sister OR really opened up to us on a bunch of things that she has been going through lately. We read a little poem called, "He's Been There" talking about the Savior and how He understands the up-and-downs, not only of missionary work, but of life in general. The visit resulted in all of us crying, but we were all able to find healing as we discussed the Atonement. Then little AN brought out some necklaces he had bought for us. It was so sweet. Not even the fact that he had bought necklaces, but the fact that he thought about us and wanted to do something nice for us.

GA & AN! They were a referral from some missionaries in Plano. We initially met them last week, and we had a follow-up visit this week. We taught the Plan of Salvation and had a great discussion. GA loves the fact that we lived with God as his Spirit children before this life. In the closing prayer, she said she was so grateful for us and prayed that we would be able to come back. Previously, they had told us they wouldn't be able to come to church because they had church at the same time. But they texted yesterday to see if they could come!! Sadly, we didn't see the text in time, but we were grateful that they are willing! They even gave us a referral for their niece - the one who lost her daughter.

Zone Meeting on Friday! Wow, our zone is great. :) It was a fairly casual meeting, but I was definitely fed by the Spirit. As of late, our mission has been focusing on talking to everyone, asking for referrals, offering baptism up front, and getting people to church. We had some really good discussions on how we can do this. Afterwards we went to Torchy's Tacos and 15 of us squished around a table.

KR loves the gospel. She loves church. She loves the members. If you could keep her in your prayers that would be lovely!

We went on exchanges from Friday-Saturday night with the Prosper sisters! It was so fun! I was with Sister Taylor. She's just two weeks into the mission, and it is so lovely to see her enthusiasm and love for the work and for the people. She was so excited to come to Dallas, and we had a BOOYAH day.

-- We saw a lady named JE who, along with her mother and daughter, is a member of the church, but very less-active. She recently had a baby, and she's decided that church and the gospel is where she wants the baby raised. We had a nice lesson at the park. The weather was perfect, and we had a great discussion about the Restoration.

-- Some of my previous mission experience was able to help me as Sister Taylor and I were brainstorming finding ideas and ways to work with members up in their area. I was so grateful for the experiences that I've had, particularly in Allen and McKinney, to be able to help get the ideas flowing. Definitely a testimony builder that everything happens for a reason.

-- So Brother MA had give us a referral for his friend, DO. We drove up and parked, and Brother MA walked out of his house that very second! It was good. We knocked on her door together. Sadly, she wasn't there, but the timing was just wonderful. We ended up sharing a scripture with the MA family who seemed to appreciate it. Definitely a blessing.

-- We had dinner with the WA family. They LOVE seafood and they love to serve us seafood, so I'm always a happy camper there. But Sister WA was also able to help encourage and lift Sister Taylor and give her some good ideas on working with members. PLUS, they had lemon sorbet for dessert. Happy camper over here.

Sunday was awesome! Sister Greenall and I were both able to speak in sacrament meeting in the Garland 1st Ward. I spoke about being an everyday, full-time, full-purpose member of the church.

Here's a little snippet from my talk:

"Being a member is so much more than coming to church for 3 hours on Sunday. It's so much more than just having a membership record. It's 1 Peter 3:15 - it's about LIVING the gospel and sharing the gospel and just being a good example to the people around us. It's easy to get caught up in the day to day. Trust me. I've been there. It's easy to say, Oh, I'm going to church and I say a prayer every day. It's so much more than just checking items off on a to-do list. It's about BECOMING like the Savior and growing and developing Christlike attributes. It's about strengthening our testimonies, deepening our conversion, and being courageous in standing up for our beliefs. It's reaching out and helping our family members, friends, neighbors, acquaintances, and even just people at the grocery store or gas station . . ."

I definitely got a little excited during the talk, but it was good. After sacrament meeting, a sister came up to us and asked which wards we covered. We told her the Garland 1st and Lake Highlads. She was so happy to hear that. Her daughter lives in the Lake Highlands boundaries and has been through an emotional and difficult divorce. The mom had been praying for help and she brought her little granddaughter to church. She said that as we spoke, the Spirit told her that we could be the missionaries to help out her daughter. We chatted for awhile and hopefully we'll be meeting with them this week. It is such a testimony builder to me. The Lord is so good and so mindful of his children.

After church, we headed over to AM's house to teach her and her family in follow-up of last week. We shared the Restoration using the pamphlet. Amanda bore a powerful testimony of the First Vision and how she came to know that the gospel is true. The Spirit was so strong! DE, AS and SA all accepted a baptismal date! We all testified of the gospel helping families, and even DE agreed that he had seen the change. So awesome!

The verses and chapters we have been reading this week have been amazing! Alma, Ammon, and Aaron are such powerful missionaries and they truly lay out the principles, challenges, and ideas of successful missionary work! We are so blessed to have a record of their experiences to teach us and help us. Also, I definitely felt God's love shining down on me on Thursday. We had a hectic morning schedule and didn't have time to study before some of our lessons. I definitely gained a testimony of PREPARATION. But anyway, after I ate lunch, I sat down to study the Book of Mormon, and the chapters that I was reading were perfect. Alma 7:11-13 - "and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities." Wow, such a testimony builder that the Lord knew what I needed to read that day.

Also, I read a really cool scripture in D&C 109:44 -- "Help thy servants to say, with thy grace assisting them: Thy will be done, O Lord, and not ours." We can and we must use grace to be able to say, "thy will be done." I know that His Atonement gives us the strength and ability to live the gospel. Christ's gospel saves and changes lives. I love Him.

Thanks for all you do for me and for the world! I love ya!
Sister Gilbert

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

September 7, 2015

Wow! I don't even know where to start. This week has been awesome!

So, transfers. My new companion is Sister Danica Greenall. She grew up in California, but her family is living in Virginia right now. We came out together, so we both have been out for about 14 months. (Cool thing, she was Sister Durrant's MTC companion. Also, her and Sister Durrant just swapped places. She was also companions with Sister Aumua.) We haven't ever served by each other, so this is pretty great!

I'll just give some updates on people, and then some cool experiences and miracles that we've seen this week.

MEL! Wow, she's so incredible. She got baptized back in June after having been married to a member for around 10 years. We had a great lesson this week with her talking about the Book of Mormon and prophets. She is doing very well. She got her patriarchal blessing yesterday and even shared her testimony in sacrament meeting! Even in the 6 weeks that I have known her, it's been wonderful to see the progress that she has made.

ST. She is moving. :(  Sad. But we had a great lesson about the Restoration and then the Book of Mormon. I just have such a strong testimony of the power that is in the Book of the Mormon and the great influence it can make in our lives. Stephanie has expressed that as well. That book changes lives!

KR loves meeting with us, but just some of the changes she will have to make seem too big for her. If you could keep her in your prayers that she will have the desire to change, that would be wonderful.

GA and AN. We got a call from some elders in Plano. One of their less-active members had a referral for us. GA and AN had recently lost a 5 year old neice due to a car accident. They were pretty heartbroken about it. So we were able to go over and share a scripture from Moroni 8 and talk about how little children are alive in Christ. We simply testified of these truths. We didn't have much time before our next appointment, but we left them with a prayer. By the end, GA and AN were just crying and thanking us. I could feel of God's love so much for them.

ST. We officially transition him to the elders in Frisco, which is sad, but the cool thing is that one of those elders up there is a convert and had quite a bit of opposition from his parents, so him and Sterling were able to connect on that really well.

So we had dinner with a family on Thursday. We shared a 5 minute Restoration and had a good discussion about it. He told us, "Well, I'm not a member yet, but I'll read the pamphlet." WHOOO!! That was awesome. We have a return appointment with them his week.

Saturday night, AM called and asked if we could come for dinner on Sunday and then share a lesson with her husband. WELL, he ended up coming to church which was really exciting, and then we went for dinner that evening. We had a really discussion about the Atonement and how it can cleanse us and reclaim us and make us pure. Then we talked about how the Gospel of Jesus Christ is both the purpose and message that we as missionaries and the church have. The Spirit was definitely present. After the prayer, her mom was crying and just expressed how amazing it's been to see the change in her daughter. Wow. That is amazing to hear.

Sister Orozco is recovering well from her surgery. She just got injections and something else. (Sorry I don't really understand medical procedures very well....) But we were able to share "Good Things to Come" with her and we had a nice discussion. Sister Orozco is incredible.

We went to "China Town" to have chinese food with a family in our ward. It was pretty good, but I think I prefer Panda Express or Pei Wei or Whistle Wok.... haha. I must be American.

KA! He's a sweet 11 year old. I think I've written about him before. But we had a great lesson about "Flecks of Gold" aka prayer, scripture study, church and how they can help us stay on the path. We set a baptismal date with him for October 3, so keep him your prayers please! :)

District meeting was awesome this week! Elder Pigott, our new district leader, led a discussion about Lehi's Dream and the vision of the tree of life. One of my favorite quotes every came from that discussion. "Don't be afraid or sorry for offering someone the most beautiful gift they will ever receive." Elder Pigott and his companion Elder Gay formulated the thought, but I seriously loved it so much.

Sister Greenall and I came up with our transfer vision. Gifts. Offering the gospel as a gift. Our service as a gift to the Lord. Using spiritual gifts. And be a gift, but a grudge to the wards. I LOVE IT. Plus, both our names start with G, so it is basically perfect.

I had an amazing experience with my fast yesterday. I had several very specific questions and quests. I was writing my thoughts in my journal and it came to me! One of the things I was fasting for, humble confidence, was promised to me in my setting apart blessing. I had forgotten all about it until I had written it down. I felt God's love just wash over me so strongly. Then again  later in Relief Society, the lesson was on Elder Holland's talk, "Where Justice, Love, and Mercy Meet." One quote from it just punctured my heart. "[Through Christ] we celebrate the gift  of victory over … every fear we have ever faced." That struck me  so hard. The Atonement will truly help me overcome my fears. I didn't really understand or realize that before.

Also, the scripture, "Perfect love casteth out all fear" resounded. I know I certainly don't have perfect love, but I do know someone who does. Jesus Christ. Charity is the pure/perfect love of Christ. The Atonement is the greatest act of charity; therefore it is perfect love I always that I had to have the perfect love in order to cast out my fears, but no. Jesus Christ already has perfect love. I just have to learn how to accept that love, to accept that gift of the Atonement to help me overcome all my fears. Wow. I feel a little like Joseph Smith when he expressed, "Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on it again and again."

It's been a beautiful week. I love each of you!
Sister Gilbert

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Hey ya!! 8.31.2015

It was a good week! We were very busy, but we had some really good adventures. We got transfer calls this morning, and Sister Durrant is being transferred. It will be a good new adventure, so we'll see how it goes. :)

We have a returning less-active who hurt her back really bad, so we were able to venture down to downtown Dallas to visit her at the hospital before her surgery. The city scape is beautiful, and I just fall in love with it every time I see it.

Also, I celebrated my 14 month mark. Crazy how the time flies. It was really fun to be with Sister Durrant to celebrate that. :)

Some food highlights this week were In-N-Out Burger and Krispy Kreme doughnuts... yum.

We started our Book of Mormon 40 day read! Wow, the Book of Mormon is incredible. Seriously, already this time through, I can just see how merciful the Lord is to us. In the Isaiah chapters this morning, the Lord repeatedly expresses that even in His anger the Lord's hand is stretched still. Also, a verse that stuck out to me this morning was 2 Nephi 22:2 "Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid; for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he has also become my salvation." I know that the Lord will aid me and support me through whatever this next transfer brings.

Oh, also during my studies this week, I reread a talk that Brother Anderson had given me in 10th grade called "Unleashing the Dormant Spirit" by Elder F. Enzio Busche. Here's a quote that I really liked from it this time around. "When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we will not sin. We will be filled with wisdom, and we will be able to have the fruits to heal the wounds of the afflicted...The greatest achievement that can be reached in our lives is to be under the complete influence of the Holy Ghost. Then he will teach us what is good and necessary to do."

This week Sister Durrant and I have had the opportunity to help out some of the sisters that we are over. I am so tired, but I know that the Lord truly enhanced my abilities. I also was able to feel my charity and forgiveness increase. The Lord is so good to us to give us opportunities to become better.

One of the many miracles this week was as we were teaching RA (a returning less-active recent convert) about the gospel of Jesus Christ. Her husband, OR, came home right in the middle, and he was able to watch the Mormon message "Reclaimed" with us. The video really touched him, and he opened up to us about his feelings of being trapped behind a wall of sin and feelings that he could never be fully forgiven for his sins especially that he could never forgive himself. We were able to teach him the gospel of Jesus Christ and testify that the Savior will heal us and forgive us. I know this is true. I know that Jesus Christ's Atonement is so wonderful and majestic yet so personal and individual.

KR is still doing well. She just needs to get married and things will move along nicely. She loves the Book of Mormon and is retaining it well.

On Friday we were on exchanges and the sister I was with is an excellent singer. We decided that for the dinner thought that night we'd do a musical number. I played the piano and she sang "I Need Thee Every Hour." Following, she bore a powerful testimony of her love for the Savior. I want to echo her testimony in saying that I know that Jesus Christ lives and loves us. How grateful I am to be able to be out here sharing his wonderful gospel.

I love all of you! Be good!

Sister Gretchen Gilbert

Oh hello! 8.24.2015

Oh hello!

It's been a lovely week! I'll just do a rundown of miracles and adventures!

Monday we tie-dyed. That was fun! 

We had a wonderful lesson with ST about keeping the 10 commandments. We ended up just tying in Keep the Sabbath Day Holy and the Law of Chastity. The flow of the lesson was amazing! We had such a great discussion, all speaking our mind on different things. The Spirit was definitely present being the teacher to all of us. I love hearing what other people do to keep the Sabbath day holy. ST is doing very well! We need to transition him up to the missionaries in Frisco considering that's where he lives, but it's been tricky with his schedule and with his girlfriend's also. But it will all work out. I'm excited to see the great future that is ahead of him.

We visited with an investigator, CH, and had given him a couple of Restoration pamphlets that he could read and then give to his co-workers. One particular man, AN really liked the message and actually ended up sharing the pamphlet with his dying aunt. Because we had picked CH out of our countless media referrals and taught him about the Restoration, AN's aunt got to hear about the Restoration of the gospel before she died late last week. What a special privilege to be a part of this miracle!

We were able to go to the temple with ME and get to see her do baptisms for the dead. That was a special opportunity. The Spirit in the temple is so strong, and it felt so refreshing to be there. The temple President came out and spoke to ME about the service that we get to perform in the temple how it is like none else. It was such a peaceful way to start our Wednesday.

On Thursday it was "cold." Aka like 75 degrees. Holy cow it felt so good! A nice little reprieve from all this toasty weather that we've been having. We wore sweatshirts while we were planning and life was grand. But don't worry, it didn't last long.

Okay so Thursday afternoon to Friday afternoon we were on exchanges. I got to be with the lovely Sister Klinkowski from Spanish Fork. We had a "BOOYAH" day full of adventures and miracles. We dropped by a less-active family when our appointment fell through, and we had a really great discussion about Daily Bread and how we can get that spiritual sustenance that we all need - through prayer, scripture study, and church attendance. The next morning we worked at the food pantry where we bagged rice and had a lovely conversation about our talents and likes and hobbies and how they play into our missionary service. 

I am a firm believer that the Lord calls us because of who we are and who we have the potential to become. The Lord takes us as we are and refines us into the missionaries (or person) He needs us to be. We do not become a robot, a cookie cut-out, or anything else for that matter. We DO become a polished, cleaned-up version of ourselves who has grown and BECOME many things - a disciple of our Savior, a person prepared for the future, and someone who knows how to open their mouth and share the gospel. Our rough edges can be smoothed, and our identity, purpose, and destiny can shine bright. It is truly by the power of the Holy Ghost that this can happen. Sister Dalton in April 2010 conference said, "We have been taught that “the gift of the Holy Ghost …quickens all the intellectual faculties, increases,enlarges, expands and purifies all the natural passions and affections. … It inspires virtue, kindness, goodness,tenderness, gentleness and charity. It develops beauty of person, form and features.”' I agree with Sister Dalton 100%. President Taylor told us that the greatest asset in our lives will be the Spirit - no matter what field, activity, etc. we are participating in. 

 Anyways, after that we went to go to a lesson with a 9 year old recent convert - AN. His mom had just hurt her back really bad and was unable to join in the lesson due to the fact that she was confined to her bed. So we read the Book of Mormon with AN and had a good discussion about it. We were getting ready to go, but then the thought crossed my mind that this would be a perfect opportunity to do some secret service while she was in bed. Sister O doesn't ever let us do service for her, so I wanted to snatch this chance. We simply did her dishes and then left. She texted us later saying that no one has ever done something so nice for her. That just touched my heart. Once again, Heavenly Father allowed me to take part in a miracle. 

I have felt the Spirit so strongly during several of our lessons this week - with ST as we talked about the Gospel of Jesus Christ discussing our covenants that we make and how we each feel and recognize the Spirit; with the Petersons (our Ward Mission Leader who asked us to give him and his family the lessons) as we again taught and testified of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; and finally with KR. We talked about the Plan of Salvation with her. Prior to the lesson, I had felt very flustered and overwhelmed with stuff happening, so I went into the lesson a little uneasy. But I prayed hard that the Spirit would be able to work through us and help KR understand that she truly is a daughter of a loving Heavenly Father who loves her so much that He gave his Son to die to her and that she can someday return to live with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. The Spirit was there. I felt it testifying to my heart that the things that I was sharing with her are true. The Spirit is wonderful.

Our lesson with ST was good too (as previously mentioned). We taught it at a park - the weather was perfect, the sun was just lingering over the lake before it went for the evening, and the cicadas were chirping. After our wonderful discussion about the gospel, we played a fun traditional Texan game called corn hole. It's basically a bean-bag toss game and way harder than it looks. I'll have to teach you about it some day. 

After we saw ST, we had an appointment with IS. We drove over there and talked to his dad who was standing on the drive way. His dad said that IS was gone, so we were kind of bummed out. We got into the car and were about to drive away, but then Sister Durrant said, "Let's call him." So we called him, and turns out that he was inside! Just a english/spanish communication breakdown. So we were able to read the Book of Mormon with IS just, 1 Nephi 1. I love how the Spirit testifies of truth. The Spirit was there as we sat on IS's porch and read the Book of Mormon just using a little flashlight because the sun had gone down. It was a good deal. 

I also just want to testify that as we have weaknesses and things that we want to work on, if we pray and ask for help, the Lord will give us the opportunities and the strength to develop these things. 

Also, from Mormon 5:11, I know that as we return to the Lord and repent, we can be clasped in the arms of Jesus, and be sanctified from our sins.

How grateful I am for this gospel. How grateful I am that we have Jesus Christ as our example. We are so blessed to be able to follow Him. 

I love each of you!
Sister Gilbert