Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Torchy's Tacos and a Tornado

Hey y'all! I hope you had a very Merry Christmas! I know that I sure enjoyed talking to my family. It's such a blessing that we are able to do that.

This week was good! And crazy!

We had planned to go on exchanges early Tuesday afternoon. I was planning on staying here in Dallas, and Sister Howell was going to go up to Allen 4/6. Well, Sister Howell woke up with an intense charlie horse in her calf, so we decided it would be best if we swapped and I went to Allen instead because she would've had to have ridden a bike. It ended up working out really nicely! I met a lady named RO who happened to be the grandma of the first person I was able to baptize (TR CH). So that was crazy. Then after a few other nice happenstances, we biked to dinner with the Wilson family. We walk inside, and I recognized one of the little girls. We both stared at each other trying to figure it out. Then we figured it out. She is from the McKinney 7th ward (NA ME). She was down at her cousin's house in Allen. It was so great! Just little tender mercies through the day. I'm grateful that the exchange worked out the way that it did.

Christmas Eve was full of delivering Christmas ornaments to people and contacting more media referrals. Can I just say that I love these people here?! They are so incredible. We finished the night up with a Christmas Fiesta with a great hispanic family here! We had tamales, beans, rice, guacamole, and an official Christmas program full of singing, video, and speeches. It was awesome!

Christmas was also wonderful! We had a pancake breakfast as a zone, skyping with the family, lunch with AM AL and family, then dinner with Bishop Hastings and family. I am surrounded by the greatest of people! Seriously.

Saturday was the craziest. It actually started out very normal. Studies, lesson and talk preparation, 12 week training, lunch, then out and about to contact all of our media referrals. Our only concern was that we had nothing lined up for the evening. We were trying to brainstorm ideas all day, but nothing was coming to us. So finally 5 pm rolls around. We had planned to go to Torchy's Tacos (one of my absolute favorite restaurants here in Texas) for dinner using gift cards that a member had given us. We got our food and were almost done eating. Around 5:30 ish all the phones around us starting beeping and we heard the tornado sirens come on! YIKES. So we called Sister Larsen who lives just around the corner from Torchy's what the weather scoop was. She said the storm was headed very rapidly toward White Rock Lake (just a mile from where we were eating). We drove over speedy quick to the Larsen's to hunker down for a while. It ended up not touching down in our area, but it did cause a lot of damage over in Rowlett. Crazy days for Dallas. Regardless, our empty evening of no plans ended up working out. We were able to be with the lovely Larsen's. The reports that I've heard have said that there were 11 twisters that actually touched down. So crazy. So, I have officially survived a tornado. Check.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak in the Garland 1st ward about Being Worshipful. Here are a few of my thoughts from the talk.

As we worship through church and scripture readings, we can gain a deeper understanding of God's plan and love for us. Even this morning as I studied in the Book of Mormon, I found an answer to a question that has been on my mind for a few days. The Lord says in D&C 88:63 "Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me." As we worship, we will develop a deeper relationship with our Heavenly Father.

How to Worship by Elder Bruce R McConkie from December ensign 1971

"[To worship] is to work on a welfare project, to administer to the sick, to go on a mission, to go home teaching, and to hold family home evening."

For me, serving a mission has been an expression of my worship to Heavenly Father. In preparation for my mission, I recognized that one of the reasons I wanted to serve was so that I could fully devote 18 months to the Lord in an expression of gratitude and love for all that He has blessed me with. I have strived through my mission to remember why I'm here and to allow that to serve as motivation. I haven't served the perfect mission, but I feel good about what I've been able to accomplish. I know that these 18 months ultimately cannot pay back the numerous blessings I have received from the gospel and the Atonement, but it has been a way for me to say thank you. I have been greatly blessed for serving, and I know that the testimony that I've gained is beyond compare.

As we joyfully and happily live the gospel and endure to the end, we show worship and gratitude to our Heavenly Father for the precious gifts that He has given us. He has given us the gospel, families, repentance, the Holy Ghost, and greatest of all, the Atonement.

I love my mission! I love getting to share the gospel and help people learn and grow. What a BLESSING!

Much love,
Sister Gretchen Gilbert

Last time riding a bike as a missionary on exchanges! Hollah!

Exchanges with Sister Cowper in Allen
Torchy's Tacos prior to the tornado

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Merry Christmas

Howdy! :)

So, this week was pretty wonderful! Here are some highlights!

Receiving a million (more like 30 but still) mormon.org bible referrals. It has been so fun to contact the individuals and share with them their Bible, the christmas video and a message of the Restoration. Some have been more successful than others, but it still has been lovely. Here's a miracle from Tuesday. We had scheduled an appointment with a lady named MA to deliver the bible, but when we got there, she wasn't at her apartment. We decided to knock the doors around her. The first door we knock on, a lady opens up the door and invites us right in. WHAT. That never happens. So we went in, shared A Savior is Born, had a good discussion, invited her to church, and set a return appointment. She was so excited to meet us! Nothing has come from it yet, but it was another testimony builder to me of following counsel and guidance from our leaders to talk to everyone and contact the people who live around referrals.

We had a great lesson with RO, JA, BE, SC. Our lesson was about the Plan of Salvation, and we had a marvelous conversation. They had lots of questions about the pre-earth life, and I loved having the opportunity to bear my testimony that God really is our loving Heavenly Father. We talked to JA about going to do baptisms for the dead which she was really excited about. We love them.

Wednesday afternoon we were out delivering some Bibles. We were trying to decide where to go: we could either stay in the area where we were or head over to the far part of the area and contact a girl who was really excited. Well, Heavenly Father had different plans! Right then we got a call from a RA who was having a terrible day. We went over, helped her clean out her books and movies, and shared a couple scriptures. I was grateful we were able to be in the right place at the right time.

We also were able to go caroling with the youth one night and caroling with a group of families last night. Such a fun time of year.

Thursday we had our Christmas specialized meeting. It was such a wonderful occasion. We discussed the wonderful gifts that we've been given (baptism and the Holy Ghost) and shared Christmas traditions. After, we headed to the Taylors for games, music, and fun. From the White Elephant, I got bacon and a package of fresh oysters! Ha. So good. But President gave wonderful trainings. I'm so grateful to have such a wonderful mission president and mission mom. They are wonderful and inspired.

Friday I was on exchanges in McKinney. Sister Howell was able to set a baptism date with AM on the exchange! Such a miracle. It sounds like it was a great lesson. :)

Mary's baptism was a nice service! It was a little stressful because our ward mission leader was in Las Vegas for the byu/utah game and our assistant ward mission leader didn't show up until 5 minutes before, but luckily Sister Howell and I (along with the senior sisters) were able to get everything set up alright. The font was a bit cold, but what can you do? But more importantly, the spirit was very nice. We had another investigator able to be there and the elders had 2 investigators as well. After Mary was baptized, she bore her testimony. She relayed a story from work earlier in the week. All of her coworkes were on break, and they were discussing what religion they were. Everyone else in the room was Catholic, and Mary proudly exclaimed "I'm LDS!" This was even before she got baptized. She got a couple of reproofs and questions, but she boldly declared her belief. I am so proud of her. She is going to be even more of a wonderful grandmother and mother.

We finished the week up by going with Sister Washburn, our lovely primary president, to deliver cookies and the Christmas video to her neighbor. I love her! It was so wonderful.

My ponderize this week: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." Luke 2:14. I hope each of you can find that peace and good will.

I am so grateful for this Christmas time of season. I love our Savior Jesus Christ, and I'm so blessed to be a missionary for Christmas again. LOVE Y'ALL!!

Sister Gretchen Gilbert

Exchange/bike life back in McKinney with Sister Klinkowski

Sister Olsen and I at the Christmas specialized training

Mary's baptism! Here's all of us - Sister Putnam, Sister McCarthy, Mary, me, Sister Howell

President Taylor during the white elephant gift exchange

Sister Howell and I

Friday, December 18, 2015


Hello! It was a good week.

Some adventures include:

  • District meeting with our new district (still weirded out by the change, but it's all making sense now). 
  • Parking in the skinniest parking stall ever for district lunch and consequently making our zone leader drive the car out because I was too scared to. I wish I had a picture of that one.
  • Going on exchanges with the lovely Sister Swan. She leaves for Australia this week. I am so excited for her!
  • Holding a baby bearded dragon on exchanges
  • Receiving supplies to make gingerbread houses and making them during lunch
  • The Lake Highlands ward party which included a live band, a huge fajita feast, and family feud. So fun. Also, one of my old ward mission leaders was there with his girlfriend. That was really fun to see him again!

Some of the more spiritual things:

  • Meeting an amazing lady named KE on exchanges. She just said she knew we were genuine people and could feel of our love.
  • Going with Sis Farmer from the ward to deliver cookies and a message to her neighbors. Only two actually accepted the invitation to watch the A Savior is Born video, but we had wonderful conversations with both the ladies. This year's video is children from around the world telling the story of Jesus Christ's birth. Both the ladies we shared it with had a passion of working and helping children, so that was nice to be able to talk to them about it. 
  • Trying to contact a referral, but she wasn't there. But we met a lovely woman named NA who was interested in our video. She was really great. 
  • Okay, does everyone remember AM AL her daughter AS? They both got baptized earlier this year. Well, AM's mom, MA has been meeting with the senior sisters for a while. So we went with Sis McCarthy and Sis Putnam to teach her the gospel of Jesus Christ. The lesson was incredible. There were powerful testimonies of God's love for us and of the truthfulness of repentance. At the end, Sister McCarthy asked MA if she would pray to know if the gospel was true. She said she already knew and wanted to set a baptismal date! She decided that before Christmas would be the time to do it. SO WE ARE HAVING A BAPTISM this Saturday, Dec 19. MIRACLES all around. MA is incredible. She has seen how the gospel has blessed her family and is excited to join the church and be a part of our world wide family.
  • Accompanying the little spanish choir at the Casa Linda ward party (the spanish ward the covers our same area) I didn't understand much of the words that were sung, but the familiar tunes rang to my heart. Also, I could feel the Spirit testifying of the truth. The Spirit has no language barriers. It testifies of all truth. 
  • Some thoughts: distance doesn't really mean much. It's more about heart-distance. How close are our hearts to each other? How close are our hearts to God? Relationships are everything, people. 
  • A wonderful day at church. During ward council this morning, Bishop announced that there won't be any meetings until January. They all then looked at me and said, "We will miss you dearly, Sister Gilbert!" These wards have become family. When I got transferred from McKinney, I thought it was going to be impossible to love that much again. But my heart has grown. I love these people.

I love each of you! Thank you for your love and support. "let us go to and labor with our might ... and it came to pass that the servants did go and labor with their mights; and the Lord of the vineyard labored also with them; and they did obey the commandments of the Lord of the vineyard in all things. " Jacob 5: 62, 72

Muah! Have a great week!
Sister Gretchen Gilbert

Christmas lights. Texans don't mess.

The District - S Howell, me, S Cloward, S Stripling, E Thornley, E Phipps (who just left today to go to Ecuador), E Chancellor, E Hanson.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Plentiful Adventures

A good week!

1) We found out that we've been going to the wrong district for these first two weeks of the transfer! Haha. We got a call from one of our zone leaders. He said, "Sisters, your district leader told us you weren't at district meeting today!" Wait, what? "Yeah, you weren't there." No I'm pretty sure we were there. I played the piano. "No, Elder Chancellor (the district leader of our new district) were the sisters at district meeting? Nope!" Hahaha. Apparently at transfers they swapped our district and didn't bother to tell us. Good times. So we'll start going to the new one this week.

2) we got a big screw in our tire. That took an hour or so at Firestone.

3) we got to help a group from our ward go around and put Christmas lights up for a few families as a service project. That was SO fun and helped me get in the Christmas spirit more. :)

4) ward Christmas party and a progressive dinner with the relief society sisters in the other ward. Everyone was so excited to see us at both events. That made me feel good. :)

5) cool experience during testimony meeting yesterday. I felt really prompted to share my testimony. So I did and spoke about the importance of the family. While I was speaking, I realized that I answered my own question that I had been fasting about that day. I'm grateful that we get to bear testimony. It allows us to strengthen and deepen our own beliefs.

6) I started writing down Christmas memories everyday. That's been fun. It's definitely another good way to get in the Christmas spirit.

7) KR been reading the Book of Mormon on her own! This is HUGE people. I am so happy for her. She will come around someday.

8) we got to go with our relief society president and share the video on Christmas.mormon.org with two of her neighbors. So awesome.

9) We got to watch the Christmas devotional with a family. That was wonderful. I loved the spirit of the devotional and of Christmas.

The spirit of Christmas really is the spirit of Christ. How grateful I am to be a missionary this time of year. Love you!

Love, Sister Gilbert