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.
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