Kalene's Mission Blog

Kalene's Mission Blog

Sunday, September 11, 2016

An Interesting Labor Day

A day in the life of a missionary is never what you expect. Yesterday was definitely one of those days. The white handbook says that holidays are a great time to proselyte because families are together and home. HA! It's been my experience here in Houston South that families are together but GONE on holidays. So Sister Waite and I were a bit apprehensive about the day ahead (and a little bit sour about our p-day being shifted) but off to work we went. The first people we went to see was a family. The parents are teachers so we were sure they'd be home for a holiday break. They were but it was a very interesting visit. The first half of the visit was awesome; we just talked about our churches and what we loved about them. But something was said that made me decide to just share testimony, explain what our missionary purpose is, and go. But the dad reacted by explaining to me all the reasons why the church isn't true. At the end of it he and his wife basically said "we love you and that's why we let you come and teach because we're worried about your salvation" or, in translation, "we want to save you from mormonism." Yeah... it was fun. We told them we wouldn't really be coming back but they said please stop by whenever we're in the neighborhood. Definitely a lesson to write home about.

Then all of our other lessons fell through because, like I said, everybody leaves on holidays. So we went to our apartment and worked on Our Map. I think I explained it to you last week but our area is HUGE. We've decided to blow of the center of our area - Victoria and it's immediate outskirts - which is where a majority of our members live but is only about one tenth of our area (and that one tenth is the same size as my last area). We made it REALLY BIG. It's like 5 feet tall and 8 feet wide and we're starting to pin on the names of members where they live so we can divide the area into sections with approximately equal number of members and save miles by working in specific sections each day (since we only have 1250 miles a month which is only 150 more miles than I had in Friendswood you know the Friendswood that's 1/10 the size of the Victoria area). The map is coming along really well and it's helping me learn the ward better.

We had just come to a stopping point on the map and were about to have supper before heading back out to do some proselyting when we got a call from the Branch President of Port Lavaca. He said that a member from the branch was just about to head into surgery in the hospital just across the street from our apartment and that his wife was stressing out and really needed someone there. So we went right over. We got sent in circles for a little bit trying to find her but then found a member from our ward waiting for her in the waiting room. They had been with her for quite a while and had brought her some snacks since she hadn't eaten much that day; we were their reprieve (I later commented about this member family to Sister Waite. They're granddaughter was with them and you could tell she was tired of having been there for a while. But I said that she'll probably look back on this experience and many others and remember that her grandparents were the type to always do anything and everything they could for those in need within their immediate reach. I told Sister Waite that someday that's something I'd want my children and grandchildren to remember about me). After they left, we just sat with this sister and tried to keep her preoccupied. We asked about her family, where they grew up, what they did for fun, and how her husband and her met (it was a very cute story). Then her mother showed up and we chatted with her about her kids and grandkids and how much they loved their aunt (the sister who we were waiting with). Then the doctor came out and told us how the surgery went. It issue was far less serious than they thought it was and the surgery went far easier and better than expected. He'll make a full recovery. We were very grateful for the priesthood blessing he received just the other day. (Some people get angry when you attribute health successes like that to God but we're not degrading the work of the doctor. In fact, we are thankful for the doctor who dedicated many years of their life to studying medicine without whom the surgery could not have been performed but we're thankful to God for placing us in the correct hospital to be with the right doctor and to help the Doctor recall all that they need to in the time of most need and pressure.) We then gave the sister a hug and went to eat since it was now nearly 8 and we hadn't eaten since 10. And then went home and nightly planned.

So, it was a very interesting Labor Day.

Sister Gillespie

Monday, September 5, 2016

Church Before Baptism

Our area is huge! It's not just our area that's huge. Our whole zone covers a huge area; in fact, our zone is probably 75% of the land area for the Texas Houston South Mission. Population-wise, it's probably only covers about 20% of the people who live in the THSM mission though. It's rather ridiculous. Our area map also doesn't cover the whole Victoria area so we're going to try and rectify that sometime this week.

We actually have quite a few investigators here. But we can't seem to get any of them to church! Why is that always the hardest struggle for investigators. Of all the things Heavenly Father asks of us, coming to church is probably one of the smaller commitments. Which is probably why you have to be able to at least commit to that much before you get baptized - attend church twice. But that's why none of our investigators are meeting their baptismal dates here. I suppose the issue is most people recognize time as their most valuable commodity. It's hard for them to make that sacrifice to our Heavenly Father. Which of course may be why it's one of the main one's that he's asked of us. Look at the 10 commandments. The first four are about reverencing the Lord: "Have no other gods before me," don't worship idols, don't use the Lord's name in vain, keep the Sabbath day holy. From the perspective of the Gospel, time is a valuable commodity in a sense. Afterall, this life is the time that we prepare to meet god/a preparatory state. But if we know that. Then sacrificing our time to the Lord is the only valuable use of that time in the first place.

I've tried teaching this but I guess I'm not an effective teacher because I've only ever gotten 3 people to church. πŸ˜₯

However, the Port Lavaca elders had a baptism this weekend that we got one of our investigators to. In fact, she drove us! She absolutely loves Mormons and loves everything that we teach. The only probably we have as we teach her is that she doesn't give us straightforward commitments. Even for the baptism she took us to it was all "maybes" and "probably's" and "most likely's" until she texted us at the time that we needed to leave for the baptism that she had arrived at the church to pick us up and go. We're thinking we'll just tell her a date when we're having her baptism and hope that she just shows up at the beginning of the program πŸ˜‹

Love you all - have safe and be fun! 
Sister Gillespie

Who Needs to Shop?

I arrived in Victoria Wednesday afternoon after a 2 1/2 hour drive and a couple of stops in the very edge of our area because it's such a long drive away from the rest of our area that we only have the miles to drive there when we are already out there for some other reason (like coming back from transfers in Sugar Land). Our area is ridiculously large so yes we have a car but it's 3 times bigger than my last area and we only have 200 more miles than my last area πŸ˜Ÿ
I am now almost a 3 hour drive from two temples: the San Antonio temple and the Houston temple.

When we got to the apartment I was kind of dismayed to find it messy. I had just spent 6 months in Friendswood organizing the whole apartment to move to another messy one. But I wasn't disappointed for too long. It was mostly just that Sister Lasa left a lot of stuff since she had finished her mission and gone home. We just had to bag everything up and we took it all to Goodwill today... except for some of the best clothes. That first night we went through the THREE GARBAGE BAGS FULL of clothes that Sister Lasa left behind and kept a few of the articles of clothing which is what led me to say as we were sorting through them "Who needs to shop when you can kill people?" (A reminder here that it's called "killing" your companion when you are they're last companion before going home). Plus, it was incredibly awesome to learn that we had a washer and dryer IN OUR APARTMENT πŸ˜. In Friendswood there was an apartment laundromat that was fairly expensive and didn't work very well so we had to structure our p-days around doing our laundry at a members house. It definitely frees up more time one p-days. I'm not sure that we need the extra time though because there's nothing to do here in Victoria. We're kind of out in the middle of nowhere as seen by the 2 1/2 hour drive from the mission office.
We've got lots of people to teach down here both investigators and less-actives. But, we're incredible careful with our miles since it's not really possible to bike here but we don't have enough miles not to bike. Two of our investigators are older woman around 60 years old that absolutely love Mormons and believe the Book of Mormon is true but won't commit to a baptismal date so we don't have anyone getting baptized soon but we're working hard to help every prepared person in this area come unto Christ by the waters of baptism.

Love y'all,
Sister Gillespie

"OH!!! You're one third there. oOOH, living on a prayer!"

Guess who's been out 6 months. THIS GIRL! Can you believe that? I can't believe that.
Most of our five investigators have fallen through (which is usually what happens with investigators) BUT one of them is absolutely GOLDEN! Her name is Barbara and she's this adorable old black lady who recently moved into the area and was looking for a new church to join. Every time we see her she says she just feels overwhelmed with the spirit and believes everything we teach. We teach her that she still needs to pray though because spiritual truth can only be learned through the spirit and we can receive those truths and answers to our questions through prayer. She's come to church THREE TIMES now! She has so much intent and we love her so much. Sadly, I'm being transferred out of Friendswood so I don't get to keep teaching her but I'll get to come back for her baptism.

Barbara alone made our week pretty awesome. But the week was also pretty good because we got a lot of members out with us. Which made the heat quite a bit more bearable seeing as we got to be driven in the air-conditioned cars rather than bike. The heat here is horrible because it's so humid. You feel it. It's sticky. And sweating just makes it worse because it doesn't help much since sweat is supposed to cool you through evaporation. So you're hot and wet and smelly. I shall quote a 14 year old from our ward (who served a mini mission and had to bike ~18 miles a day) - "No one would do this unless it were true."

I hate to say goodbye to this ward but I am reassured by Alma 22:4. Even Alma had transfers. I know that my mission president is inspired of the Lord and that the good people of Victoria must need this pale nerdy girl from Washington.

Love y'all
God Bless

Sister Gillespie

Families are Forever

I love Colin's comment "Are all these people related to me?!?" That deserves a follow up of. Yeah, isn't that amazing and that's why family history is so much fun. It seems the theme of the events back home has been family/eternal families. I'm so glad to have caught the family history bug while I'm down here. I found some mail names a couple weeks ago and sent them to Thomas but he hasn't done anything with them yetπŸ˜”. I wish I could've been at that family reunion. Sister Liufau has family in the ward. Brother Liufau is her second cousin and when I brought her over the very first night to meet them he was so excited. They both pulled up their family history and found that they share the same great-grandfather (different great-grandmothers though so they're technically half second cousins) and Brother Liufau said something like "seeing family history in real life makes family history so much more real and exciting." Being at the family reunion for all the family for my great-grandmother who is also to some great-great-grandmother is eye opening to how large families actually are. Now go just a couple more generations back and try to tell me that ALL of your family history is done. There's definitely an astounding amount more to do; it's rather daunting😨.

This week we found FIVE new investigators. Mary, Linda, Barbara, Wanda, and Walter. So despite it hitting 100+ a couple of times this week we were definitely out working hard.

Another family history plug: Family History - A Protection

Sister Gillespie

Mini Missionary

We got a mini missionary this past weekend we had her from 7pm Thursday to 5pm on Sunday. We get another one this weekend. Our mini missionary this weekend was really awesome. Her name is Sister Delgado and she just got baptized in February 2015 at age 17. She was the only one in her family to convert and her family temporarily disowned her because of it (she's hispanic and they're hard core catholic). But she's determined to make it to the temple and hopefully serve a mission within the year. It was great having her because she was extremely bold and outgoing. My favorite story from this whole weekend - actually the whole week- is that she got heat exhaustion on the porch of a less active (no the heat exhaustion wasn't the great part). She almost collapsed and she threw up and this less active was so concerned and took really good care of her and insisted that we get her in the car and take her home. Our mini missionary didn't think the whole thing was that big of a deal but she used it to her advantage. So here's the awesome part: as the less active helped her into the car Sister Delgado said to her "Miss [V], I'd love to see you at church on Sunday." Despite almost collapsing this tenacious little mini missionary was determined to fufill our goal of inviting her to church. It was hilarious! Once we got past the fact that our mini missionary wasn't actually dying on us.
That's all for this week.
Hope y'all enjoyed the pics
Love Ya
~Sister Gillespie

Sunday, September 4, 2016


A lot of work goes into a convert baptism. When you go to a convert baptism, I hope you know how many hours of preparation and stress were put into it by your local missionaries.
But yeah, the baptism went well. Chuck had to be dunked twice because he didn't go all the way under. But that was fine because he had joked about needing to be dunked a few times and maybe rinsed around a bit to make sure that he got completely clean. He did complain later that the water was really warm but I just told him that you use warm water to clean things. He decided he liked that.
This week we had Hermana McMullin with us from Wednesday to Thursday (the blonde in the middle in the picture). She was a traveling trainer. That means her mission was done at transfers 2 weeks ago but she extended a week and a half and went from companionship to companionship just giving them input on their teaching and such. It was fun having her. Don't tell anyone but we stayed up past mission curfew talking. She's really hilarious.
We also helped set up for a wedding on Saturday. We only had time to donate 2 hours of our time to the cause though and we felt really bad because there were only like 5 people helping. But with our two hours we were able to set up this back drop things for the wedding party and pictures. It looks much better in person.

Spaghetti Dinner

We had two investigators in church this week: Chuck and Rodrigo. What was really amazing about that was Rodrigo. We hadn't been able to see him at all this week because of his work schedule. But, he came to church. On his own. We've seen a lot of growth in him these last few weeks and he says he's going to be baptized it's just a matter of when he feels ready. He's ready now. And that's what we're going to try and show him this week if we can see him.
Last Sunday we had a meeting with our ward mission leader. He asked if we were all filled for dinner this week. Sister McCleery was going to say we were fine but I like to be fed so I told him the truth which was that only three members had signed up to feed us that week. He decided that we should make a home cooked meal for all the older singles in our ward so he gave us $40 and told us to do it Thursday night. We ran with it. We made invitations​​ (see attachment which for some reason is labeled class notes). And then we delivered them to all of the members we were inviting with an extra invitation for them to invite one friend. We might have bit off a little more than we could chew with that one but luckily we had a lot of helpful members. 
I made our spaghetti recipe and we doubled the batch. Everybody absolutely loved it, quite a few got seconds and thirds. But at the end of the night we still had enough left over to feed one more family and it was starting to feel like the story of Christ feeding the multitude with 5 loaves and 2 fishes and having baskets of bread left afterward. 
So this is what we did with the metaphorical five baskets of bread we still had. We put the leftover spaghetti in a 9X13 disposable pan with a lid that we had purchased that day. And we went to a members home because we felt like they were who needed it. But nobody was home. But I had visited them the night before with Sister Loveridge on companion exchange and the dad had just come back because he thought he had an interview with bishop that night but then he had remembered that it would actually be the night that we were trying to bring spaghetti. It was providence that that had happened because that meant we knew where he was to bring him dinner. 
We went to the church with this large dish of spaghetti and waited outside the bishop's office. Cleaning up after dinner had taken a while so we didn't have time to go teach anyone, but Sister McCleery was feeling goofy sitting around waiting for this member to come out of the bishop's office so we could give him spaghetti. We contemplated forgetting about it and heading home. But I said "no, there's a reason we have this spaghetti and there's a reason we came to the church. We don't have to go home for 15 more minutes to be there on time so we'll wait until then." 
Well... 15 minutes came and the member was still in the office. We contemplated just forgetting about it again. But again we decided "no, there's a reason why we have this spaghetti, there's a reason why we're here, and there's a reason that we've waited this long." We decided to leave it on a chair, right in front of the office door, with a note. At this point we were feeling really stupid but determined. The note said "Brother [member], we made too much spaghetti tonight and thought you and your family would enjoy it. ❤ The Sister Missionaries" 
We went home and we did our nightly planning for the next day as usual. But at the end of planning we got a text from the bishop. He said this member had just taken a very large step in his interview with the bishop that night and it had taken a lot of effort and humility on his part. He had come to the interview right after work and hadn't had anything to eat yet that night. When he saw the spaghetti sitting there, waiting for him, he broke down in tears. The bishop said it was proof to him that the Lord knows our needs and he provides for us.
If we hadn't left him the spaghetti, no one but us would've been the wiser it was just a small thing after all. But because we were willing to follow those promptings from the Lord, we were able be the Lord's intruments in answering prayer in somebody else's life. I think a lot of times that's what the spirit is directing us and helping us to do: answer prayers. Isn't that a blessing? I'd like to be the Lord's hands more often and I think he'd like to allow us to be his hands more often as well. What a bunch of ridiculous promptings to follow all over a plate of spaghetti. But now the Lord knows we're willing to follow him. What will be your plate of spaghetti this week? Will you be willing to follow the promptings that come with it?

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Wood Roaches, Rats, and Young Women

That title describes my last Tuesday; it is not categorizing young woman with wood roaches and rats. Last Tuesday we helped a ward member clean out her garage for four hours. We started at 8 and it was already 85 degrees when we started. Her garage very desperately needed to be cleaned out. She had two specific reasons why she finally decided to get it done though: they're going out of town this week and they needed to make the lawn mower easily accessible to the young man who agreed to mow their lawn while they're gone, and they're garage door is broken so they needed to make room for someone to come and fix it. Her garage was INSANE! They moved to Texas 3 years ago and had been living in California for 4 years before that and were originally from Utah. Some of the boxes in her garage had been packed when they moved from Utah and never opened in between. Her mother and I tried to convince her that since she hadn't opened ANY of the boxes in AT LEAST 3 years that they could all be thrown out but she wouldn't have it. So we had to go through all the boxes. It was four very laborious hours filled with silverfish, wood roaches, and petrified rats (I'm not kidding; the rats were stiff and dry) but we worked miracles on that garage even though there are still about 20 unopened boxes. When they get back from vacation we'll finish the garage and they'll actually be able to park cars in there. What a novel concept! I found the hard labor quite enjoyable though; I just love purging and organizing.

Then that evening we went on splits with the Laurels in the ward. Sister McCleery saw Chuck with her two girls, and I and my two girls and they're leader saw Anna Maria another one of our investigators. She's also been struggling with the Word of Wisdom but we found out just yesterday that she made it through the whole weekend without drinking! It's AMAZING! She usually doesn't drink much during the week; it's the weekend that lots of family and friends come hang out at her place and drink and she struggles to say no. But she not only said no to them this weekend but also LEFT because they were drinking so they couldn't ask her another time and have her possibly cave. We told her how amazing and just gave her lots of encouragement because we know she can do this.

Sunday we had 4 investigators in church. Chuck, Anna Maria, Steven, and Rodrigo. It's really interesting. For the longest time we've been thinking of Chuck as our most progressing investigator because he wants us to come every day and he comes to church each Sunday. But Chuck is more converted to Sister McCleery and I than the message of the Gospel. He likes the message but hasn't truly been applying it in his life; he doesn't really want to allow the Gospel to change him. Which is entirely what the Gospel is about: Repentance which means to change and become closer to God. So whenever we call him out on something that he's been lying to us about because he wants to please us, I feel like Nephi talking to Laman and Lemuel in 1 Nephi 16: 1&2 
"And now it came to pass that after I, [Sister Gillespie] , had made an end of speaking to [Chuck], behold [he] said unto me: Thou hast declared unto us hard things, more than we are able to bear. And it came to pass that I said unto them that I knew that I had spoken hard things against the wicked,according to the truth; and the righteous have I justified,and testified that they should be lifted up at the last day;wherefore, the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center.

Sister McCleery and I have been talking a lot about that last line this week. Because there's two ways that the guilty react. When we're told something we're guilty of it hits us and it seems hard but we can either recognize it and something that we therefore need to change or become angry at the speaker. So, for the past month we've been putting a lot of time and energy into Chuck thinking that he was progressing because he knew and understood more and wanted to see us more than our other investigators. But Anna Maria, and Steven, and Rodrigo hear the hard things and are truly trying to be better. 

This gospel which starts with faith and repentance and is a continual repetition of faith and repentance is about hearing the hard things and working on it. So those who are hearing the hard things and progressing in that change (though it may be gradual) are the ones who are truly progressing in the gospel instead of someone who might just be progressing in the missionary lessons.

Yeah, it kind of hit us rather hard this week.

Hope everyone is doing well
Special shout out to Colin who is now in Utah and officially starting a new phase of life. And to Mom and Dad who have now officially become empty nesters.
Sister Gillespie

Hide The Painkillers

Missions are supposed to be the "most" two years: most rewarding, most frustrating etc etc. Apparently I don't complain enough about my mission because Mom was wondering about the mosts. So let me wax poetic about the weather here: it's hot.

Seriously, even some of the people who have lived here forever and try to tell you it's not that hot are admitting that no it definitely really is rather hot here. I think they don't really acknowledge it the rest of the year because they don't stick around for the heat. Everyone LEAVES Texas for their summer vacations. Somebody told us the other day that the heat index placed the weather at 106 degrees the other day. πŸ˜¨  A lot of people have wood fire grills the scent of which make me desperately want to go camping, lots of people have horses which I don't get to ride because it's against white handbook rules, and the mosquitos have eaten me alive. But really, aside from that there isn't much that I would complain about and none of those are real problems.

Sister McCleery is doing just fine. We had a rather eventful week despite her being out for half of it. Her surgery was Wednesday and we got a member to drive us to it and hang out with me while we sat around waiting. She was just the tiniest loopy after the surgery. 

We got her back to the apartment with no incident and as I handed her a pain pill she told me that I'd need to hide the keys, phone, and the rest of the painkillers... what?! Yeah, apparently her family has a tendency to react a little crazily to painkillers and that she might try to steal the keys and run away... okaayyy.... She didn't, but I was kind of looking forward to it. 

For the rest of the week she slept at various ward members houses while I went out with a recently returned sister missionary on Thursday and with the Manvel sisters on Friday. So the only investigator we really saw much of this week was Chuck who is still doing good and progressing toward his baptismal date of July 14 (he chose it. It's his birthday).

One of our other investigators came to church again this week - that makes three weeks in a row. Our Gospel Principles class on Sunday was about baptism so we really want to sit down with him this week and talk about what's keeping him from baptism and what we can do to help him.

Yeah, so not much happened in Friendswood Second this week but it's been safe and I've been fun πŸ˜‰

Love you all,
Be the person your dog thinks you are,
Sister Gillespie

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Stake Conference

This weekend was the Friendswood Stake Conference. We had THREE investigators there! One of them of course was Chuck who has come pretty regularly since we started teaching him and he absolutely loves church. But, he said he didn't care for stake conference because he said it felt too much like a board meeting and that none of the speakers had enough time to talk. We also had a former investigator there who we've been picking up. He's been struggling with A LOT so he reached out to us because he wants that really strong moral compass in his life. He had just told us Saturday that he didn't see himself joining any church anytime soon but a talk on Sunday made him decide that he wanted to work towards becoming a member. Our third investigator is another former investigator who's a single father and there were a lot of things said about fatherhood and how reading the Book of Mormon in the home helps you build up your household and your children. He definitely went away thinking about a few things.

Elder Foster of the Seventy came for a mission tour this weekend. He spoke to all of the leaders in the mission and their companions (e.g. Sister McCleery and I because she's an STL) on Thursday and then all the other missionaries on Friday. It started at 9 but Sister McCleery and I had agreed to join a small choir to sing a special musical number during the conference and they asked us to be there at 7:30 to practice for it. And the building is about an hour and a half away so we left Friendswood at around 6 in the morning. The conference was done at 2 and then there were a couple extra meetings for just the leaders while all the companions hung out in the gym so we didn't get back to our area until 5 in the evening. It was a super good conference with him though. He talked about the Lord's vision for us. It's amazing, when we truly think about it, how truly miniscule we are compared to the whole of God's creation and despite his creation being numberless to us we are so very important to him. "They are numbered unto me, for they are mine." ~Moses 1:37 I really like what Ammon says about this realization in Alma 26:37 Now my brethren, we see that God is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in; yea, he numbereth his people, and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth. Now this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea, and I will give thanks unto my God forever. Amen."

There were also a lot of thought provoking things said at stake conference this weekend. The first speaker talked about in Luke 6 how multitudes pressed forward to touch the Savior some to be healed but some - he posited - simply to touch him. So he asked "What do you need to be healed of? OR What will you approach the Savior for?" He then said "I promise ou that the Lord can heal you of anything that ails you and keeping the Sabbath day holy is the way that we can approach the savior to be healed."

I'm sorry this email doesn't have much about what we did this week. I feel like not that much happened but I learned so much at the conferences. The email will probably be even shorter this week because Sister McCleery is going to have a surgery this Wednesday and then she'll be in recovery for, probably, the rest of the week so I'll only be able to get out and work when I find both a member for her to stay with and a member for me to go out with. The surgery is going to be a very minor surgery so don't worry but say some prayers for Sister McCleery that she can stop being so worried. Don't tell anyone (I say to the masses of people this is going out to) but she's been having some worst case scenario nightmares. So any good prayers and/or vibes you can send this way would be appreciated.

Have safe and be fun!
God Bless Y'all
Sister Gillespie

Armadillos Carry Leprosy

Don't worry too much.... maybe worry a little. We see roadkill armadillos around here all the time (we've yet to see a live one and sister McCleery has been out almost a year). But everyone will tell you: "don't touch the armadillos; they can carry leprosy and it can transfer to humans." Well... isn't that a fun thought. It's something we've been rather dismissive of but one of our investigators has a sister who has something wrong with her leg and we're 20% convinced that she touched an armadillo and got it. But, if you're going to worry about me, you should worry about the mosquitos. They're pterodactyls down here. So I want all of you to be praying that they decide to include the Texas Houston South Mission in the missions where sisters are allowed to wear dress pants.😜

Something interesting I came across while I was preparing for a talk on baptism for a district meeting. On the mission, our commission is to "Teach repentance and baptize converts." Did you know that's the final commission that Christ leaves with his apostles? Matthew 28:19 says "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." And as we fulfill that commission of the Lord, he'll be "with you always." I know I've felt his presence in my life while I've been out here.

The Sabbath was great yesterday. We started the day by going to PEC where I wrote down a quote from the Bishop that I thought was funny: "Thou shalt not do that." I thought it was funny but I think it's a really great way of summarizing the 10 commandments. The people weren't ready for the next step of God's law so he had to give rules to the house of Israel the same way we give them to children - in essence - "thou shalt not do that." But as we grow and progress the thou shalt's change. They become "thou should be's." The Lord wants us  to make good choices in our life. Choices that help us become the person we're capable of being. And the first counselor spoke about how "The Lord has a system that produces predictable results. The cool thing about the system is that it works on imperfect people like us ... like me."

And in Sunday school we talked about repentance. And Sister Ellis had a wonderful comment "Like water, in life things that stand still become stagnant. So, I'm thankful that the Lord stirs me up." It's so true. And I'm thankful the Lord has given us a way to clear the waters, to progress, to release weights that burden us. In third hour, we went over President Uchtdorf's priesthood session talk (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2016/04/in-praise-of-those-who-save?lang=eng). I really enjoyed it but something that really stuck out to me was when the scripture was quoted "charity never faileth." And for a second I thought, I don't know about you but it's pretty hard to be filled with charity all the time so obviously it's not perfect. But then I thought charity never faileth doesn't mean that we never fail at having charity; it means that charity is the solution to almost every problem we have in this life. If we have true christ-like love in every situation and for every person, the problems we face in life cease to be problems.

Our investigator Chuck got his paycheck on Friday. He payed all of his bills and was left with some (what he calls) walking around money. He told us previously that he was worried about that. He knew he'd spend it on alcohol. He did. We were disappointed; not in him but for him. But we had a great member there with us when we taught him a lesson yesterday who has also been overcoming addiction. And he said many encouraging things, mainly that repentance is there because we mess up and as we continue to repent it becomes easier and the mistakes become fewer. But like I talked about previously, some people think they run out of chances to repent. But I liked what our member said "I can repent as many times as I mean it."

Oh, by the way, we had THREE investigators in church!!! That's a record. We've been really busy these past couple of weeks but the work's been great.

Hope y'all have a great week too

Sister Gillespie

The Small Book of THSM

And it came to pass, on the Friday of this the fourth week of the fifth month of the year 2016, that I did learn of The Book of Miracles which was a record of both humor and faith which had been previously kept by the people of the Friendswood District. And, recognizing that the workmanship thereof was good, determined to create a similar record which might be comparable. This new record will contain, as did the Book of Miracles, the curious and plain workings of God in the lives of those missionaries who were faithful and strove to be obedient to the laws of the mission with exactness.

And it was pleasing to me that I might begin this record with a summary of those miracles which had already occurred so that my people might recognize those miracles which seem small and simple to the eyes of man.

Therefore, this record doth commence in the time of the teaching of Chuck the son of Foshee. Now Chuck being a man of many years, therefore being taught somewhat in the learnings of the Witnesses of Jehovah, did seek again to study the words of the Lord with those Witnesses of Jehovah who had once taught him. Thus he cried mightily unto the Lord that they might return.

How great was his astonishment, he being drunken with strong drink, to discover the stratagem of the Lord. For he had no sent unto him Witnesses of Jehovah but Saints of the Latter Days.

So, yeah. Apparently a while back the districts passed around "The Book of Miracles" at the end of every transfer so that they could all write their stories in biblical language. But it got lost somewhere along the way and was just rediscovered this week. We decided we'd pass it around again. This is a portion of what we've decided to put in the book for the Friendswood 2nd area. But I've also decided that it'd be fun to keep my own personal record every week or so and call it the Small Book of THSM.

Sorry that I forgot to tell y'all, this week p-day is on Tuesday because yesterday was Memorial Day and they always shift p-days on holidays.

This last week we also found a new investigator. He's a young man who's a family friend of a less-active family. The parents have recently become more active but they want us to come share messages with them and their son. We went over Sunday evening, only the mom was home at first but as we were sharing the message with her her son and this young man came in and something we said really struck him and he asked us to come back and teach him more. We've been able to see and teach him twice this week with the less-active son and that's been great for both of them. The investigator is able to have the ease and comfort of learning with a friend and we're able to share these lessons with the less-active without him shutting us down because he "already knows this." We've witnessed both of them being touched by the spirit this week.

We had to teach two lessons in church this week. The Primary president asked us to share the message of the restoration in sharing time since it was the last Sunday of the month and the theme this month was the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored. It was amazing! I want to be called to primary when I get home. I think because children are so innocent the spirit is able to be in the room especially strong. I felt it teaching me the message of the Restoration as I shared it. That lesson had been planned for. What hadn't been planned for was that Sunday's relief society teacher coming in just before sacrament meeting and handing me papers for the lesson on Tithing and asking me to teach because she was too sick. It ended up going really well though. There were a lot of great testimonies and experiences that people shared. I liked one comment in particular. "God has asked us to tithe from the very beginning. Literally, it's in the book of Genesis. But does God need money? If God doesn't need money than the law of tithing isn't for him; it's for us."

Also, SHOUT OUT to Kasey and Miranda. I hope you enjoyed your visit through Galveston and liked the McGuinness family. Thank you so much for the package. It was almost literally everything I had been contemplating buying but decided not to buy because what I had would make do. It was super exciting and uplifting.

Yesterday was Memorial Day and we shared a message around "Greater love hath no man than this" and talked about the freedom that we've received from the sacrifices of others and how it's a similitude to the Savior's ultimate sacrifice and the complete freedom he's granted us in doing so. It was an amazing day.

May we all remember the sacrifice of others and remember to share our love for others by sacrificing a little bit of ourselves each day to do what the Lord would ask of us.

God Bless Y'all
Sister Gillespie

Laughter in Thunderstorms

Well, the votes are in and...

Sister McCleery and I are still companions in the Friendswood II ward! And since last transfer had an extra week due to the 2 week to 3 week adjustment in the MTC, at the end of this transfer she'll have the record for the longest stretch of time that any missionary in the Texas Houston South Mission has spent in one area. She's really excited. So are many members in the ward.

This Tuesday I had to give a 7 minute talk/lesson on asking people for referrals. This left me repenting a lot because sister McCleery and I aren't very good at remembering to ask everyone we talk to for referrals. Specifically, we talked about asking the "who do you know who ... ?" questions (e.g. who do you know who recently had a baby? who do you know who recently lost a love one?). In the scriptures it's often stated that someone can't receive the Gospel until they have humbled themselves. These questions help us find those who have been recently humbled; they help us find those who are prepared to hear the message. What the questions have in common is they are all seeking people who have recently had life changing experience. A change in somebody's life is like a spiritual earthquake that leaves people on shaky ground looking for something solid. The Gospel and more specifically Christ is the Rock of our Salvation. He IS the solid ground of life. Members often won't refer someone to us because they think their friend isn't ready or isn't someone who can use the gospel. These questions help our members to see who may be more prepared then they think.

Wednesday we had another exchange with Baybrook. I took over the Friendswood area for the first time since I got here. It went really well. Most of our appointments fell through but what the sister from Baybrook really needed was help to see how easy it is to talk to everyone we see. So every time that an appointment fell through we'd just park the car and walk around the neighborhood. Then the very next day I went on an exchange to Galveston! It was SO MUCH FUN! I was with Hermana Flores who happened to be the person I sat next to on the flight into Houston. I met their investigator (who just got baptized this last Saturday). His name is Billy Sapp and he wanted to make sure I knew and that I'd tell everyone back home that I now knew the coolest guy in the US. He's very very hood and it's very very entertaining. The funnest part of that day however is that we were biking in buckets and buckets of rain. It was a crazy thunderstorm and we even got a tornado warning on our phone. Listening to the spirit is really important for a missionaries safety. When we got the tornado warning we discussed it and decided that we needed to continue working but an hour later we looked at the sky and the spirit yelled at us to go home. Oh man! On the way home the lightning kept getting closer and closer. When we were a mile away from the apartment we heard a particularly harsh crash of thunder that indicated that bold was only a mile away.

I felt that day that I had had the true missionary experience. We were absolutely soaked. My dress which had previously been green was so wet it looked black. One thing I can say for optimism. I've seen quite a few different people out on my mission. A lot of them face horrible trials and challenges. Some of them are murmurers. Like Laman and Lemuel they look at everything bitterly and ask "why?" and think "I don't want to" and "but it's hard" and like Laman and Lemuel this attitude only serves to make them more angry and bitter and as they fill their lives with those feelings they aren't open to the communications of God through the Holy Ghost. Others roll with the punches. When something isn't working right in their life they say alright, I'll try doing something else and you lead me as I go Heavenly Father. I'll follow you and I'll trust in your plan and your timing. Essentially it's about hope and faith in the Lord. Those who have that hope, faith, and trust (what some people might call optimism) look like everything is going right in their life simply because they find a way to always be happy. Others seem to have things going catastrophically wrong in their life all the time because they see life that way. As Hermana Flores as I pedaled furiously through that thunderstorm on Galveston, we were laughing. When we got back into the apartment and wrung out our wet clothes we were joking about the weight of them. I paused for a second and expressed to her how happy I was that where other people might have found misery in the situation, I had found joy and energy to continue.

There's a lot more I wish I had time to tell everyone this week but we went to the temple today and did two sessions (4 hours) so I'm short on time. I pray that each day as you face challenges that you have the strength to pause and look to find the joy in it.

I love you all and pray for your peace, happiness, and safety this week.

Sister Gillespie

Socks and Fleas

I had a fairly interesting week for a number of reasons.

I am encountering a LOT of cats out here which is AWESOME. But since we mostly tract through trailer parks that means they're a lot of outdoor cats and I'd say the vast majority of them have fleas. I also just got some new socks at Walmart a couple weeks back that the fleas seem to like. Thus, despite me being more diligent in my bug spray wearing lately, I have some very itchy ankles.

An interesting theme was popping up this last week in my scripture studies and discussions with potential investigators that we just started talking to on the street: the last days/the end times/the second coming. I mean, it wasn't the main focus of this week or anything but it was popping up a lot. Especially as it ties to things that are occurring in the middle east right now. I don't really know how to sum it all up very succinctly but what's stood out to a lot of the people that we've talked to and a lot of the things I've been studying are the gathering of the house of Israel, the parable of the olive-tree, and the last shall be first the first shall be last. We know that the Gospel was first given to the Jews(last) by Christ and then to the Gentiles(first) by the apostles and that in the last days the Gospel will be given to the Gentiles (Restoration/first) and when the Gentiles become to wicked and begin to reject it, the house of Israel will once again be taught(last). An investigator we found just last night was telling us about all the people that he's in contact with in the middle east and how thousands of Muslims are converting to Christianity everyday over there. It really all just kind of struck me last night that we truly are living in the latter days.

We went up to Sugar Land twice this week. Once on Monday for a doctors appointment and then again on Tuesday because we had a Zone Conference and the mission office. We had a mission vehicle rep come from Salt Lake to check all of our vehicles during the Conference but it took a while so quite a few companionships were stuck in Sugar Land for quite a while after. Sister McCleery and I had a planned exchange right after to I was able to leave to Silverlake by 4:30 but apparently Sister McCleery and Sister Hunter weren't able to leave until about 6.

The Zone Conference was SOO good. One of the things that really stuck out to me was a lesson we had on being equally yoked. You know Christ says "Take my yoke upon you...for my yoke is easy and my burden is light." I think often times when in Sunday school we've talked about that scripture they teach you that you're yoked with Christ and so he pulls your burden. OH HO HO! NOT SO! Christ/his Grace is the yoke. So who are you yoked with? And what can his yoke do for you? An ox by itself can pull 8000 pounds. So two oxen can pull 1600 when yoked together right? Wrong again! They can pull 2400 pounds together. That's what Christ does for us. We have to work and he magnifies our work but we aren't supposed to work alone. You're always meant to work with someone. Whether it's your spouse, your family, or your ward, you all have to pull together and when you pull in unison the yoke is able to work and magnify what you do together. Christ's burden is the work of the church and "[the Lord's work] is still work, but in it we find rest to our souls." I just thought it was a really amazing lesson.

The exchange went great as well. Guess who I was on exchange with in Silverlake... SISTER LOVERIDGE. That's right, my MTC companion. It was definitely fun getting to work with her again even though we didn't get much time to work together since the conference went so long.

We got a new investigator this week! And not only that, he's chosen a baptismal date and he came to church yesterday!! It's miraculous!! Someone else that came to church is Cheyenne's (our 9 year old recent convert) little sister Sissy who's 8. She loved it and their mother loves that they're going to church and says that she's going to come with them next week. So say your prayers and cross your fingers because they have a lot of potential and we really love them. We love everyone we meet (even the drunk Hispanic men who yell at the white ladies walking toward their house and make inappropriate comments... boy was that one a character).

Things are going awesome out here! Next week Sister McCleery and I find out if either of us are getting transferred. She's desperately wants to stay in Friendswood another transfer but she's been here her whole mission and she's over half way through so she's not expecting to stay. But you'll all get to know next Tuesday when I email.

Love you all and God Bless

Sister Gillespie

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Of Exchanges and Phone Calls

P-day's aren't very exciting. I was under the false impression before I came out on my mission that p-days were full of fun stuff. They generally aren't. They're supposed to be a break from the usual rigor of the week and let you relax a little bit. They're kind of stressful. You don't have very much time but you're supposed to wash your clothes, wash the car, clean the apartment, do all your grocery shopping, and email home while still doing your two hours of study in the morning and being done with everything by 6 pm so that you can go out and proselyte. So you get all that done and at most you have 2 hours leftover to do something else. Some missionaries nap during those two hours. We mostly sit around playing card games, and every once in awhile we have time to play Dungeons and Dragons with Barbara Octaviani. I guess it's all worth it for those few Mondays where we have time to play D&D.

Last week after p-day was "over" we went out to see one of our investigators. We got there just in time to help a guy get his car out of a ditch. Some crazies had run him off the road and the carriage of the car was stuck on top of a log and the wheels were turning in a mud ditch so he couldn't get anywhere. We were able to jack his car up so we could pull the log out and stick a piece of wood under the tire so he finally got out. The whole process took about 45 minutes. It was probably the most excitement we had had all day.

This week we picked up again an investigator that we had dropped back in my first week on the mission. He had had all of the lessons but he never kept any of his commitments. And he especially wasn't praying which is definitely the most important step in conversion because it allows you to receive answers and direction from our Heavenly Father. We had come to teach his wife since she is a less-active and she had some questions she wanted answered. He sat in and asked some questions which allowed Sister McCleery to ask the question/call him out on what the root cause of him not progressing was. He was afraid of receiving answers because then he was worried about being accountable for his knowledge through his obedience to that knowledge. Sister McCleery flat out told him that he already knew it was true but asked if he had simply not prayed to have a true confirmation through the Holy Ghost because he was afraid of messing up. He said yes. And we assured him that was why Heavenly Father gave us Christ and his Atonement. So we could repent. That no matter how many times we messed up, as long as we were truly repentant, he would always forgive us.

We find with a lot of people that they feel like they've run out of chances with our Heavenly Father. As if after our 10th 50th or 1000th mistake, he throws up his hands and goes "that's it! I'm not dealing with your issues anymore!" But that's not how Heavenly Father works. We're children. And just like children, we're learning to walk. That's what life on this earth is about. It's about learning to stand on our own. When a child is learning to walk, they fall. They fall over and over again. But we don't give up on them after they've fallen for the 10th, 50th, or 1000th time and tell them "that's it. You've run out of chances. You don't get to learn to walk." You help them get back up and take another step.

This Wednesday I went on another exchange to Baybrook which is the area right next to ours. Literally. The sisters live in the same apartment complex as us so we just packed up and walked our stuff fifty feet to the other apartment. Baybrook is a biking area. It was super fun but all of our plans fell through and we had an hour and a half where we just biked around looking for people to talk to. We were able to place only 5 pass-along cards in that whole hour and a half. Then we went to supper and home because my temporary companion was sick.

I must be destined to be companion to sick sisters because during last week's exchange I was with another sick sister.

I basically went on another exchange the very next day because sister McCleery had another Missionary Leader Conference and they told us to drive to Missouri City the night before and stay with those sisters. We took our bed bundles and rolled them out on the floor. I was actually quite comfortable and they said I looked as much as they were all getting up the next morning. So Hermana Whitmer and Sister McCleery went to MLC and Hermana Yungfleish and I worked in Missouri City. She had language study and that's when I decided that I'd start doing language study in my free time because I decided to join her for it and enjoyed it.

The Skype Call home yesterday was AWESOME! I wish I could've seen more of the family but it was great just seeing Mom, Dad, Colin, and Clio as they all spoke to me. Everyone talks about how homesick they get after calls home but I think I'm fine. I'm probably mostly just used to it since I've been at college for so long. Maybe it would've been different if I had seen Thomas and or Shannon since while at college I got used to seeing them almost everyday.

I love you all. And love hearing from you and hope to continue to read all of your awesome emails each week.

"God Bless!"
Sister Gillespie

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Flooding in Houston

I woke up to rain and thunder today. I guess it's now officially flood and hurricane season down here. It's pretty insane though. Apparently Houston gets as much rain as back home in Washington it just happens all at once instead of over the course of the year. Rather than alternately between drizzles and rain like it does back home it alternates between sheets and buckets for a few hours and then it'll rain for a few hours and then go back to sheets and buckets. This morning it was raining when we took our laundry out but it was pouring buckets when we went to switch the loads. We ended up not being able to switch the loads because the apartment laundromat was across a street that was totally flooded.

Apparently last May it rained for two weeks straight and my trainer's trainer was stranded on the second floor because flooding was so bad in the area. Also, the last mission president (President Ashcraft) apparently had to ask all the missionaries to stop praying for a hurricane. The missionaries thought it would be a good service opportunity. While I admit to wanting to see/experience a hurricane because I'm just a little bit insane, I haven't been praying for one. But so this morning we did our studies to the sound of thunder then sat around for a couple of hours while it was just regular raining. The roads cleared enough so we made it to the church to email this afternoon. We came with the knowledge that we may or may not be stranding ourselves at the church if it starts pouring sheets and buckets again. It had slowed down enough that we thought we might be able to get out to start proselyting at 6 this evening like we're supposed to on P-days but there's really no guarantees at this point.

As my parents know because of an email, we actually were grounded of a sort this morning. Because the roads were flooding a bit we were told not to leave our apartment complexes and especially not take our cars anywhere until we were notified otherwise. The storm is predicted to last until Thursday, so if it gets as bad/stays as bad as it was this morning for the next few days we might be stuck in our apartment for most of the week.

If that happens I might go just a little bit more insane because I was already stuck in my apartment for most of this last week. Sister McCleery had been sick so we didn't get out much. I about did everything I possibly could in our apartment this week. I won't have anything to do this week if I'm stuck inside again. I even wrote letters to Mom, Dad, Colin, Shannon, and Kasee Bailey which I'll be sending in the mail today so be on the lookout for them in the mail.

Last p-day Barbara in our ward helped a few of us make Dungeons and Dragons characters and we've agreed to do d&d with her about everyother p-day for a couple of hours. I was super excited to make a character but I had to coax the others to do it because you want at least 4 characters in a party. They were iffy about it but agreed. Now they're super excited next week to start our story. Haha! Nerdom conquers again!

We found two new investigators Tuesday night before Sister McCleery got sick. They're brothers who served in the marines together (they call eachother brothers and one of them [Joshua] is living with the other[David] and his family but they're actually brother-in-arms). We were walking through this neighborhood towards a potential we had come across last Saturday but they weren't home. On the way back to our car Joshua had practically flagged us down. We ended up just talking with them and listening to their story but Joshua said he could tell we were servants of Christ and asked us when and where our church service was and for our number before we had even asked him to commit to anything. It was AWESOME! We saw him again on Friday and we were so worried because he's Pentecostal and the very first thing he asked us was about our belief in the gift of tongues. But at the end of the lesson which was all over the place (because he had a lot of questions) we had left him with a book of Mormon and he had agreed to read the first chapter and to come to church! Sadly, he wasn't at church yesterday. We don't know what happened but we intend to see him tomorrow (if we're not rained in that is).

You know who did come to church though... CHEYENNE. The nine year old member with the non-member family. And you know what she said to me later that day when I was talking with her and learning about her siblings and her and her family... "can I come again next week?" !!!!!?!?!! She really is the most amazing girl and I'm so proud of the CTR 9&10 class that was so good at welcoming her and becoming her friend.

Aside from Cheyenne coming to church, the most amazing thing this week was how well everything was able to work out even with Sister McCleery sick though. We had so many members that were willing to take her in and go on splits with us (where we each go with a member). Splits are usually so you can get more work done but for us this week it was mostly so we could get any work done. One member would host her at their house while I would go out with a different member. It was great having so much support from the ward. And don't worry, Sister McCleery is doing a lot better as of Saturday night.

Sister McCleery's and my companionship motto is "God will forward his work, so let's be a part of it." We've seen a lot in these past couple of months that Heavenly Father makes things possible when you set out to work hard and achieve what he wants of you. We definitely saw that a lot this week as we tried to get as much work in as we could and he made that work productive.

Love you all,
Hope you're safe and healthy
Sister Gillespie

Someone Died

Don't take it seriously. All I mean is that 3 people in my Zone went home this transfer; one of them being my zone leader. I only had 7 weeks to really get to know him but he was a pretty awesome zone leader. Our other zone leader got moved out of our district this transfer(our zone leaders were both in our district). It was rather disappointing. None of the sisters in our district got moved though so that's nice. It was 9:30 last night and Sister McCleery said "okay you're in the clear." Apparently she didn't want to tell me but the Sunday before transfers are announced, you'll get a phone call from president if you're training or getting made an STL. She said that it has happened before that a sister had only been out on her mission for 6 weeks when she was made an STL because her companion was the STL and the other STL had gone home which was my exact situation. Glad she didn't tell me because I might have panicked.

We did a lot of service this week. We did 17 hours! Which sounds like more than it actually is. Individually we each did 8.5 hours of service but we report how many hours were done together. On Tuesday we went over to the Dawson's house. Brother Dawson was our ward mission leader and he was an AWESOME ward mission leader but he got a job in Kansas City, Kansas so they're moving. He left this past Saturday and his family will follow him at the end of the school year. We helped S.Dawson Tuesday to clean up around the house and reorganize some stuff (based on what an interior designer in the ward told them to do) so it will be ready for pictures and showing this week. The Dawson family reminded me a LOT of the Foster Family if you need to picture what they're like in your head.

Last Sunday (I'm not sure if I wrote about her last week) we also finally got hold of our 9 year old less active. She was staying with her member uncle's family in Utah this past summer and they had her take the missionary lessons and she decided to be baptized. Apparently the ward got her records and have been trying to get a hold of her but hadn't been able to up to this point. She's adorable. When we met her we could see the light in her eyes and she was so happy to see us. We asked if she still had her book of Mormon and she said it got left in Utah so we gave her a new one. She was so excited and she wanted to read with us. We met her parents as well that evening and we got his approval to come back again sometime this past week to visit with Cheyenne some more. We went back on Tuesday with John Teate and his daughter Savannah. They both got baptized last August and Savannah is Cheyenne's age. John really hit it off with her parents and Savannah and Cheyenne absolutely loved eachother.

We had to leave for another lesson but they said John was welcome to stay and we had an appointment to see her father this past Saturday for a "bible study." Whenever someone invites us to do a bible study with them we mostly expect them to just want to bible bash with us. But apparently John was able to say something to him that opened him up a little. So when we went back on Saturday he just sat down with us and said "what do you got for me?" He kept getting interrupted during our lesson so we didn't get to teach him very well but his wife and father sat down with us and the lesson went really well with them and they asked if we could come back the next day without our prompting. We said of course. Sadly, when we went yesterday Cheyenne's parents weren't feeling well but they had told her to tell us that we could definitely sit down and share a message with Cheyenne. So we're really excited for her. We're hoping to introduce her to her primary teacher this week and get her to both activity days and church. We're also hoping to get her parents to commit to church as well. It's looking possible.

Wednesday, I had the new missionary lesson sign-off at the mission office in Sugar Land. Sister McCleery had been telling me horror stories of her lesson sign-off when she did training. They had to solo teach all of the lessons to P.Hall. Instead, this one was more a training on all the things you need to do to make sure your lesson is the best lesson it can be. There were A LOT of things. He assured us that we obviously didn't have to have them all down but that we should be working to improve a couple of the things each week. And we also need to be making sure to actually write down the lesson plan for every lesson that we teach. That night we visited with a less active family that we're trying to get to the Temple. We got them started on their family history. It was really awesome to see how quickly they took to it. It was especially exciting to me because I've recently taken up Family History and seen what a wonderful thing it is. We talk all the time about how the gospel blesses families and I think we forget that families bless us. To understand that identity we have because of our families and to feel this love for distant relatives that you don't even know is to come to a better understanding of your identity being part of Heavenly Father's family and to understand how much more Heavenly Father loves us as his very own children.

To have those family names to take to the temple also reminds members that their ultimate goal should be the temple and frequent temple visits.

The churches family history site is also just super awesome. The fact that it's the largest database of people and that it's free to ANYONE makes family history super easy and fun.

Thursday was another day full of service. We watered one person's plants, then we helped someone else wash their horses, then we helped two women start their family history and then we helped Sister Dawson with her house again. I got to participate in a good old-fashioned Texas round-up. Which sounds more awesome than it is but I was told you only need 5% of the truth when you tell a tale in Texas. What happened is when the 3 horses were put back in the pasture after they were washed the other gate wasn't closed. So we had to chase them all around the neighborhood and lead them off one by one. It was ridiculous, especially since Sister McCleery and I had already changed out of our service clothes back into our dresses.

Sister McCleery and I listened to this speech this week https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/hugh-b-brown_profile-prophet/ I highly recommend it. But one of our favorite parts was one of the very last things that Hugh B Brown said 
"Although these evidences and many others that could be cited may have the effect of giving one an intellectual conviction, only by the whisperings of the Holy Spirit can one come to know the things of God. By those whisperings I say I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God."
Many times the people we teach want miracles and proof. But even if we did miracles before their eyes and showed them the very plates that the Book of Mormon was translated from, it would not leave them with the same spiritual certainty as the quiet whispering assurance of the Holy Ghost that they receive in answer their sincere questions that they asked in prayer.--
Sister Gillespie

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Mighty Miracles!

Heavenly Father grants a lot of your ridiculous prayers when you're a new missionary. I think he tries to make you as comfortable and happy as possible so that you stay confident and happy and remain on the mission. Last month I had a slightly smaller budget than I should of had for food because I had to buy a comforter and pillow. I prayed one morning over my oatmeal saying that I wouldn't complain and that I'd stay in budget but Heavenly Father would have to help me not feel hungry (most of you may know how important food is to me so this was a big deal). That same day a member unexpectedly took us out to eat at Olive Garden and another member brought us a bag full of groceries that night. I say he answers the ridiculous ones because I prayed knowing it was ridiculous.  This Friday, we were driving home and we had had a long week with not too much success. I just really wanted something yummy to make me a bit happier so I jokingly asked Heavenly Father to send me some donuts. Guess who had donuts to eat during conference on Saturday... THIS SISTER!! Joking aside, it's amazing what we can accomplish through prayer especially with the faith of a full time missionary.
Mom asked me what I do while my companion goes to the leader training meetings. There's another sister on the way to the meeting building, who also needs to go, so we have a short (about 5 hour) exchange with that sister's companionship. It's pretty interesting because they're in Sunnyside, which is the ghetto of Houston, and they're Spanish-speaking. But you meet some really interesting people there and it's really fun to try and see how much of the Spanish I'm actually picking up and understanding. We found a new investigator in that area when I was there too. It was an adorable Mexican lady who was about 60 years old and Catholic. She invited us into her home and talked about how the Lord had helped her and her children overcome many challenges, and set up a time where the sisters could come back to teach her a full lesson, since she had some where to be right then. I understood very little of that conversation. But during studies that afternoon since they would read what we were studying aloud in Spanish, I learned the word "Orar" which is to pray. Maybe I'll be able to commit some one to praying in this coming week.
While I was on a real exchange to Bay City this week I had an awesome personal study on Faith. I read the Christ-like attribute section on Faith in Preach My Gospel and then I read the section in the Bible Dictionary and then in True to the Faith. Here's what I learned from it. Faith in Christ is developed in four stages. First: you have to believe that he exists that Christ lived 2000 years ago and that he was the savior. Second: you have to believe that He was YOUR savior. That what Christ did was meant for you. Third: you have to trust him. Believe that no matter what you do, no matter what you're going through, he is there for you and he can and will help you through it. NO MATTER WHAT. And all of those steps lead up to the final understand that Fourth: You KNOW that he loves you and that's why he has done all of this.
But what I loved most about that study is that it ended with an amazing thought. I'm working mighty miracles!!! When you read think or hear about mighty miracles you imagine Moses splitting the Red Sea or moving mountains or healing the sick. But those aren't the mighty miracles. If someone says that they'll believe you once you do something miraculous like deliver yourself from bondage (Alma 14), what is the actual miracle? To cause an earthquake and break the ropes that bind you and walk from a collapsing building without a scratch on you or to change that person's heart? I'm changing peoples hearts on this mission through my quiet faith and obedience. I'm working the mightiest of miracles through that faith and reliance on the Savior.
Conference was amazing!! We attended all the sessions at the church. With everything being online and on BYUtv nowadays, nobody goes to the church to watch it anymore. EXCEPT, the old bishop of this ward, his wife, and the now first counselor and his wife and daughter and, of course, the missionaries. There was never more than ten people in the building for the Saturday nor Sunday sessions. I don't think I could choose a favorite talk so I'll just right down some of the lines that really stuck out to me.

Elder Renlund: well he didn't actually say this but it's a thought I had while he was talking so here's what I wrote "Dig yourself in. Make your foundation deeper. Make your foundation stronger. The more you build your testimony in Christ the less power the storms of life have to shake you."
Elder Rasband: "Questions are an indication of a further desire to learn."
President Monson: "We know where we want to go so it matters what path we take."
Sister Oscarson: "The LDS church is more than just a good place to go on Sunday."
                            "Seek to have your heart and very nature changed."
President Uchtdorf: Alright, I lied. This was my favorite talk. I titled it "Worthy of Rescue" and my favorite line was "The sheep is worthy of divine rescue simply because he is loved by the good shepherd."
Elder Kearon: I have to admit - my favorite part about Elder Kearon's talk was actually how touched President Uchtdorf was by it being a refugee himself. And my favorite line was "This moment does not define them but our response will help define us."
Elder Holland: "God will never desert us! He CANNOT do it! It is not in his NATURE to do so."
Love you all,
Sister Gillespie