Monday, November 30, 2015

A Cajun turkey this year

Hey y'all! Happy thanksgiving!

Btw this is already my third attempt at writing this email. The other two were deleted. :(

Anyways, this week has been lovely!

Monday we had 3 family home evenings all about thanksgiving! One of our ward missionaries called and invited us over because she wanted to see us for sure before she went out of town for Thanksgiving. We were all happy that I stayed, and it led to a fun evening for sure. We were also able to visit Sister Pettigrew. I had met her several times before coming to Lake Highlands, so it was quite a fun surprise to get to be in her ward. We just had a good discussion about thanksgiving and missions and the gospel. She had a profound thought about the scriptures. The Bible and the Book of Mormon are Heavenly Father's love letters to us. If we want to feel His love, we should read the scriptures.

Tuesday was transfer meeting. We thought we had a sister training leader meeting after, so that's why we went, but the meeting ended up canceling. We had a wonderful time being spiritually fed by the lovely President and Sister Taylor. In one of the testimonies of the departing elders, he said, "Do you believe in love at first sight? I didn't, until I met the Taylors." I AGREE. They are incredible people, and I am so blessed to serve here in this mission with them.

Tuesday evening was awesome. We were invited to attend the annual lake highlands youth thanksgiving bonfire! We had hot dogs, s'mores and Thank-i-monies. It was wonderful. I love the youth. In preparation, all the young women made a portion of a thanksgiving meal - potatoes, casseroles, rolls, desserts, sides, dips, etc. After the bonfire, we loaded up into our cars and drove to a woman we've been working with. Several weeks ago, she told us that she was worried how she was going to feed her family thanksgiving. Sister Howell had the brilliant idea to partner with the young women to make a meal for her. So we did. And it was awesome to deliver. Service is such a blessing in my life. I feel SO blessed being able to offer simple service.

Wednesday we met our new district. They should be good. :) It's always an adjustment. I have officially been in the zone the longest. Party! We had dinner with the Orozcos - a delicious breakfast for dinner and discussed what we are thankful for. We finished the visit up with a little Kamikaze Khristmas Karaoke as Sister Orozco calls it. That was so fun and definitely got me in the Christmas mood. Then we were going to go visit a TA, but when we got there she told us she was sick sick sick with the flu. So we reschedule. But then later she sent us the sweetest text. She said, "I'm sorry I had to cancel. I need to feel your comforting spirits tonight though. So even though you only stood at my doorway, it was what I needed." Oh that was heart warming. I love her!

Turkey day! We had two meals! One with an active family and their whole clan. The other was with Amanda (recent convert) and her part-member family. They had cajun seasonsed deep friend turkey. YUM. That was pretty incredible. After all our eating, we went with one of the young women and dropped cookies off to ward members and investigators and shared thanksgiving messages with those who were at home. Basically it was wonderful.

Friday we had great lessons with both KR and the BAs. We brought the senior sisters to KR's and had a great discussion based off 1 Nephi 1 about righteous parenting. We committed her to read the Book of Mormon and when we followed up with her last night, she had read! Yay! We were going to drop her earlier last week, but she called and asked for a visit, and then the visit ended up going very well! The BAs were wonderful as always. We talked about the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Side note. I just want to share my testimony of Him. I am so grateful for our Savior. I know that it is through Him that we can accomplish everything that we are sent here to do. He has made it all possible. There is a really touching article from December's ensign. It's called "A Gift of Life and Love." I encourage you to read it. But I just want to share a quote from it:
"Wearing a face mask, Ed walked in the door, headed straight for Dottie, and enveloped her in a tremendous hug. As they embraced each other, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Everyone could feel the love emanating from them. A sister had suffered in order to give her brother the gift of life. It was a gift of love, a gift of sacrifice, a gift he couldn’t provide for himself. 
 "As I watched them, with tears streaming down my face, it dawned on me: this could be what it will be like to meet the Savior face to face. He did something for us that we are unable to do for ourselves. Only He, being divine, was able to endure a sacrifice so great that the law of justice would be satisfied. And only He, being perfect, was worthy to atone for the sins of all mankind so that the law of mercy could be extended to all who accept Him as their Savior."

Lastly, we stopped by Bishop Martinez's Saturday night on our way home. We just shared a quick visit of thankfulness and of gratitude. The conversation ended up on trials and how much we get to learn from them. I love his family. I am so blessed to serve in such incredible wards. I am so so blessed. On Sunday, Bishop gave his closing remarks and said, "Last night, two angels stopped by my house - Sister Howell and Sister Gilbert." I feel so loved here.

Here on my mission, I may not have baptized the most number of people, or reactivated the most, but I truly feel like the bonds and the strengthening and the service that I've been able to do among the active members will last forever. I love these people. I'm sitting here typing this with a tear in my eye. I am so blessed and so humbled that Heavenly Father has allowed me to come labor in this part of His vineyard and be so blessed.

I love you! I know that the Savior lives. I know that He was born so that we might have life and love and hope and possibilities and progression and happiness.

Much love,
Sister Gretchen Julie Gilbert 

The old district after playing ultimate frisbee

Sister Howell and I getting some peppermint hot chocolate!


Golfing adventures at top golf

Monday, November 23, 2015


Hey there!

Another week has come and gone! They are just flying by at this point! It's crazy. Today marks the end of another transfer! Sister Howell and I are staying together for my last transfer (it's crazy to say that). We are glad!

A brief sum-up

We had a great lesson with BE. I've definitely gained a testimony of bringing the RIGHT member to lessons. We had a wonderful discussion about the sacrament. That's one thing I've really gained an appreciation of - the sacrament. It's such a wonderful opportunity to reflect and recommit.

We had zone conferences this week. It was wonderful! Slight drama on the way there....I got pulled over. BUT I got away without a warning, so I'm grateful for that. Let's just say that driving in an area you're unfamiliar with, in heavy traffic, trying to follow the gps often leads to speeding in a school zone. WHEW.

Then on Wednesday we had a great service opportunity helping the Salvation Army package snacks and treats for prisoners. It was so fun! They had a brass band playing Christmas music - just a fun, holiday deal.

Most of the week was spent just going around sharing thanksgiving messages with people!

Yesterday we had Stake Conference. Before the meeting, I was greeting people. I said good morning to a tall gentleman with white hair. He said, "Hello Sisters" I introduced myself, and he did like wise. Turns out it was Elder Steven Snow, our presiding general authority! I had a strong impression before stake conference to talk to a couple in our ward. We chatted with them for a minute, and I asked if we could come by later that evening to share a thanksgiving message. Brother BA agreed, but his wife was hesitant. They finally agreed, so we set the time. That evening we went over and shared "In the Spirit of Thanksgiving" and ended up having a great discussion about that. Sister BA was working on a paper for her sign language class, and Sister Howell was able to give her some help and suggestions because she knows ASL as well. At the end, Sister Barrus expressed her gratitude for us coming over. I was grateful I followed the prompting.

The meeting was great. A young woman spoke about "mastering the art of sharing" in regards to doing missionary work. Making family a priority was also stressed. I'll share a few more highlights:

  • We can do small acts of kindness for the people within our sphere of influence. Our sphere is often bigger than we think it is.
  • The most clear indication of our personal progression and conversion is how we treat other people.
  • Jesus Christ is our Rescuer, our Redeemer.
  • This is the plan of happiness. We're right in the middle of it. Are you happy?
  • The gospel binds us together.

I love all of you! Have a beautiful week!

Sister Gilbert


Monday, November 16, 2015

Go Ye Now In Peace 11.16.2015

Hey hey! A good week. :)

I was able to go on exchanges back up in Allen this week. The bike life! Whew. I was super sore the next day, but it felt good to ride and contact people. I was grateful to be with Sister Byers. She is from Hastings, New Zealand and is lovely! 

Also, on Saturday, ST got baptized! Sister Durrant and I had taught him back in July and August. His girlfriend, DE is a member. Just as a refresher, on our first week together, DE texted us and asked if we could teach her boyfriend the lessons. ST had asked DE what she wanted for her birthday, and all she told him was for him to take the lessons. So he did. And he ended up loving them. He starting reading the book of mormon and doctrine and covenants BEFORE we had started teaching. He really is just an honest seeker of truth. So good. So anyways, we taught him for about a transfer, then we transitioned him up to the Frisco elders where he lives. So in the meantime, DE got her mission call to the Utah Orem Mission. She leaves on Wednesday, November 18. We got an exciting text from her this week that ST was going to get baptized! Yay! So we got to go up to Frisco for ST's baptism. It was wonderful. He bore his testimony that he knows the Book of Mormon is true, that the church is true, and that we really do have a prophet. He is an incredible person, and I'm so excited for his life in the gospel. Plus, DE is going to do amazing!

Lots of people ended up canceling on us this week, but it was okay. We were able to help out a bunch of ladies from the ward doing simple service and just boosting the morale. 

The District

Sunday night was great as well. We had another mission president fireside. The Sisters in charge of it, Sister Greenall and Sister Weichers, had a great idea to have a bunch of the sisters sing "Come Unto Christ." It was a lovely time. Cool thing, about 15 months ago at a fireside similar to the mission president fireside that we had just organized ourselves, the missionaries in my zone sang "Come Unto Christ." It was a nice tie-in to the beginning of my mission.

 This week I've been thinking a lot about the peace that the Savior can offer us. The words to a song "Go Ye Now In Peace" have kept playing through my head. 

Go ye now in peace
And know that the love of God will guide you.
Feel His presence here beside you
Showing you the way.

In your time of trouble,
When hurt and despair are there to grieve you,
Know that the Lord will never leave you.
He will bring you courage.

Know that the God who sent His Son
To die that you might live
Will never leave you lost and alone
In His beloved world.

Go ye now in peace.

I know that God lives. I know that love is one of the most powerful forces in the world, especially the love of Jesus Christ. I love you!

Sister Gretchen Gilbert

Friday, November 13, 2015

Hey Hey! 11.9.2015

Hey hey family and friends! Another good week for the books! 

Some highlights this week: 
Visiting with CH and her girls again. They are seriously just an incredible family. We had 2 great lessons with them (one about prophets and the other about fasting) and they also came to the stake young women recognition evening! They are doing incredible and the ward is doing a fabulous job at fellowshipping them. Very grateful for that.

Bluebell ice cream is back! After a 6 month hiatus (aka deep cleaning of the plant) the best ice cream has returned. It's actually not that big of a deal, but lots of people get super excited about it. 

We went on exchanges with the Rowlett sisters this week. I had the privilege to be with Sister Iona for the day. She is a mighty missionary. Her example of faith, diligence, and standing up for her beliefs really impacted me. I am grateful for the blessing to go on exchanges and see the Christ-like service of so many sisters. We had a really good day. We texted a less-active, TA, to see if she needed any help moving. And she did! So we loaded up our cars and moved some stuff to her new apartment. Good news though....she's still in our area! Yay. We were able to get in with another less-active family, the HA's. They're going through a rough time, but Sister Iona and I testified of the power that the Book of Mormon can bring to us.

Saturday morning we were able to help with a Red Cross event. We helped install fire alarms in elderly people's homes. I was very humbled by the houses we went to. People were living in very poor circumstances. It was an eye opener. But we were in a group with a sweet college girl named LE and we had some great conversation with her.

There was a regional stake conference broadcast yesterday. It was incredible. For the first 30 minutes, our stake was able to do a program, then we turned on the broadcast. I was able to accompany the Garland 1st ward choir and a children's choir during that. It was an awesome opportunity to use my talents. Elder Robbins, Elder Corbridge, Sister Reeves, and Elder Oaks all spoke at it. I loved Elder Robbins message about simplifying our lives. We are so blessed to be taught and instructed from the prophets and other general authorities.

Last night, Sister Howell and I were blessed to have dinner with Bishop Hastings and his family. They are an incredible example to me of the hope that the gospel brings. They are just peaceful. It was amazing to be in their home. I love that family!

The highlight of my week was yesterday though. After Stake Conference, we were helping the Lake Highlands ward with the practice for the primary program. When it was over, our ward mission leader's little son, FR came up to us. He's six, has huge, adorable eyes, and a cute little lisp. He grabbed my hand and Sister Howell's hand and looked us in the eyes and said, "Sisters! I have great news! I'm going to have a new baby sister." It was ADORABLE. Just his excitement made my day.

Oh man, I love this gospel. I love the Book of Mormon, and I know that it's true. I love y'all!

Sister Gretchen Gilbert

Friday, November 6, 2015

Miracles are Flowing 11.2.2015

Hey hey! It's been another wonderful week here in Dallas! The miracles were flowing once again! Let me share some of them with you nice folks.

Tuesday morning, we thought we had a fairly empty day ahead of us, but the inspiration started flowing.
  •  First, someone had given us some baby formula and asked us to donate it at the food bank we serve at. Well, a less-active's name popped into our heads because she has a 5 month baby and they are definitely short on money and means. So we brought it over, and she was so grateful. I'm definitely not taking credit for it; I'm just grateful I was in the right place with the Spirit with me to be able to serve. 
  • Then later, a member of our bishopric called and asked if we could go visit another less-active, TA, whose mom from SLC had called asking for someone from the ward to see her. She has been through some rough couple of months - having a baby, having her husband leave her, being essentially stuck in Dallas because of it, etc... But it turned into a really good visit. We talked about things that make us happy, and talked about Jesus Christ. She came to church this week and really loved it!
  • We saw CH and her daughters again! We shared the plan of salvation. They loved it! CH loves the doctrine of the spirit world. They are seriously an incredible family.
  • We finished the night up by meeting with a 17 year old recent convert that just moved from the other side of Dallas. Her father had been dating a member, and she got baptized, but then her dad and the lady broke up, and they moved over here to Garland. She is incredible though! She has a huge testimony. She had just popped up on our list of members, so we gave her a call and were able to visit. So good.
Wednesday we had missionary leadership council. SUCH a good meeting. Probably my favorite, actually. We discussed "consecrated communication" which in essence just means focusing all of our conversations and interactions on Jesus Christ and helping people progress to their next ordinance. So good. Then we had our dinner appointment. I was TERRIFIED to go to it because the last visit we had with this family went terribly horrible. (back in august or so...) But, I put on my big girl smile and it ended up being alright! We had a good dinner and good conversation. Whew. I was so nervous, but Heavenly Father was good to us. :)

We saw CH again later in the week at the Gruwell's. We talked about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Wow, such a good lesson. CH's oldest daughter, HA, was there as well. We shared the Mormon Message "Reclaimed." We were all really touched by the video, and CH just expressed her appreciation again and again of the hope that the gospel has brought to her already. Our only obstacle with her is that she works on Sundays. But we're praying that she'll be able to switch shifts or find another job. 

Saturday: Halloween. Basically, it was an awesome day! One of my investigators from McKinney, BR got baptized. We were working with her starting in May, so I'm glad it finally happened! She is adorable and is was SO good to see my McKinney people. LOVE. Then we zipped back down to this area for the BA girls baptisms. They are incredible. The baptismal service was SO good. Just simple and powerful. There was a really good turn out. JA and RO both bore their testimonies. RO testified of God's love and that everything happens for a reason and that she is so grateful for her family. JA said that she knows that God lives and that the Book of Mormon is His word. CH and two of her daughters were there, and they LOVED the baptism. It was such a good service. Then we went to the ward party, where we bumped into a less-active whose mother we had met back in September. It was awesome! Then we had a nice little zone party where we played volleyball.

It really has been a good week. We've been trying to really bear testimony of the Savior in all that we do. It has made a difference, for sure! 

I love y'all! I know that this church is so true! I am so grateful for the hope and for the peace and perspective that the gospel brings to us. I know that Jesus Christ lives!

Love ya!
Sister Gilbert