Kalene's Mission Blog

Kalene's Mission Blog

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Life is Fair Because Christ's Atonement is Infinite

You can never get enough sleep. Seriously. After daily planning each night, I change into my pjs, brush my teeth, write like two sentences in my journal, say a prayer, then go to sleep. I do all of that in like 5 minutes because every minute counts. I've been pretty good about making sure to write in my journal each day but some nights I literally only have the energy for my two sentence before I'm out. Then in the morning the alarm goes off once before it goes off at 6:30 to say that I definitely really do have to get up now. Rolling over and getting those extra 5 minutes seems vitally important in the morning before I literally roll out of bed to say my morning prayer. But in the last few days I decided that was a very bad attitude to start my day and so have been trying to get up as the alarm first goes off in the morning. And S.McCleery and I recently decided that we would get up at 6 so that we can have a full 45 minutes to exercise because 20 minutes just isn't enough. That exercise time has been great. I feel so healthy. Why had I not been getting consistent daily exercise before the mission?!

This week we made improvements on our daily planning. S.McCleery and I talked over our daily planning and our goal setting. I explained how we learned in the MTC that the first thing you should do when it comes to planning is to set goals. And those goals she be based on your weekly goals. As in what do I have to do today in order to achieve our goals for the week. Then we plan to attain those goals. It made a big difference this week. It also made us a lot more enthusiastic about everything we did this week because we know that as we set goals and make plans, the Lord will help us do what we need to. The first day we didn't achieve our goals but we know we were in all the right places at the right times.

This week we also set up a weekly service appointment for a less active man and his non-member wife. HE HAS HORSES!!! So every week on either Wednesday or Thursday morning at 11, we'll go over to clean hooves and give them a bath. Oh man! Do I wish it wasn't against the white handbook to ride horses on our p-day because I can assure you. I now know quite a few persons in our ward who have horses and I would totally be willing to spend every p-day grooming horses if it also meant I got to ride them. Actually I wouldn't mind just spending everyday grooming horses. I wonder if Sister McGuinness in our ward would be willing to hire a hand for a few months after I'm done with my mission? It's actually rather amazing that we were able to set this service appointment because we had been talking about doing it since I arrived but had never been able to get a hold of them. I was the one who was really into setting that up so S.McCleery had said "alright, you're in charge of setting that up." She said that about two weeks ago and for a few days I didn't give it a second thought. But Tuesday, we were about to walk out of the apartment when I picked up our cell phone and called this family, just out of the blue. They picked up on the first ring and we set the service for the very next day. It was such a simple thing but I know it was inspired. It made me think; S.McCleery is often saying that in a companionship we're each receiving 50% of the revelation and sometimes we designate eachother in charge of things and it struck me that by assigning me in charge of that we were also assigning me any revelation we might have pertaining to them.

Another thing S.Mc and I learned this week (actually we relearned it) is that sometimes you're hitting brick walls because you're going about something the wrong way. I say we relearned it because about three weeks ago there was a less active family that we kept trying to see. In fact, we tried to see them three times without being able to get to them. But then we prepared a lesson for someone else and that appointment fell through so we felt like we should try to see this less-active family and share the lesson if we got a hold of them. It was exactly the lesson they needed to hear and they've been making/seeing some real improvements in their life since then. We relearned it this week because there's an appointment that we kept trying to set up  that kept falling through and it had to happen a third time before we realized that oh, this isn't how we should be trying to do this. Now whenever S.Mc and I can't get through to someone we retrace our steps and see what we needed to do instead of what we did do.

I received the Easter package from Mom on Friday and S.Mc also received her family Easter package. It was really funny/sweet because both mothers sent double so that our companions could share with us. Something really awesome about S.Mc's mom is that she always gets this clear plastic Easter egg that she sticks a picture of Jesus in with an Easter scripture stuck to the outside. One year, she apparently didn't have time to make the Jesus egg and the whole family boycotted their baskets until she made everyone their Jesus eggs. And apparently, when she sent an Easter package to S.Mc's brother Trevor on his mission she only had room for one candy egg or the Jesus egg. She put in the Jesus egg at the insistence of the rest of the family and he wrote in his email when he received it that he realized that she didn't have much room and was glad that she had made the right choice in sending him the Jesus egg instead of candy. I just found the whole story very cute and entertaining.

We've been trying REALLY hard to work a lot more with our members and so it was absolutely amazing yesterday that we got THREE MEMBER PRESENT LESSONS! EASTER MIRACLES! No but it was really awesome because two of them resulted in a new investigator and the third one is a potential investigator for missionaries in a different area. What had happened is our Easter dinner had ended up running really long because it was with this great member family who had invited a few other members and it's hard to escape those conversations and one of them was the photographer for the Trek they just had so we were going through the Trek pictures and trek videos. So when we finally left we only had time for one more visit. Brother Schott in our ward had asked us to bring him a Book of Mormon in Spanish for a coworker of his who was expressing interest in the Gospel so we knew we had to drop that off at his house and decided that's where we needed to go. When we got there, his non-member nephew was there and we got into a discussion about his beliefs. He said he was very open and he talked about all these things that he could believe but when we asked a few more questions he told us what he believed was that there was probably a God but that he had simply created the world and stepped back leaving it to his own devices. After all, what good, just God would let so much bad happen in the world. We ended up teaching him just a little bit about the Plan of Salvation and committing him to pray with Alma 32:27-28.

But it was amazing because I had actually just in the last few days been working on this idea/essay sort of thing which I had titled "If there is a God." It's basically an argument for if there is a god and he's a loving god and you believe that then the Church of Jesus Christ is the only religion that makes sense. But I was totally prepared to address all of his questions. I think a lot of people get caught on if there is a god then he must be a cruel or uncaring God. But, the Plan of Salvation addresses that. It all comes down to his purpose for us and agency. If God, as many people agree, is our Heavenly Father then we as his children are meant to grow and become perfect "even as our father which is in heaven is perfect." So we come to this life to grow. But we can't do that without agency. Without agency we would be like children learning to walk who's parents never allow us to stand on our own or fall over and learn to pick ourselves up. We need trials and mistakes to grow. And to allow that he has to grant everyone agency. But to be just in granting agency he has to let everyone make their decisions whether good or evil. He can't stop people from making bad decisions (like a person driving drunk who will maybe hit and kill someone that night) because that means he isn't allowing them the same agency as he has granted to the woman who donates her time and money to the local food kitchen each week. And yes, it's painful for our Heavenly Father to watch the suffering that occurs because he loves us but he also knows that he must allow it.

But the ultimate message, is that life is fair because Christ's Atonement is infinite. And because his Atonement is infinite - all that seems unjust in this life is made right through Christ's Atonement.

So make good choices, have faith, and believe
And remember that I love you and God loves you
Love - Sister Kalene Gillespie

Monday, March 21, 2016

One Month Anniversary

As of Wednesday I'll have been in the mission field for exactly a month. It's pretty crazy to think I've already reached that mark. This week also went by incredibly fast but that's probably due to the the TWO exchanges that I went on.
Exchange number one was to Bay City. It was a really interesting area, and I really liked the sister I was on exchange with, Sister Smith. We talked with a less active and shared a Book of Mormon message but got a little distracted because she referred to her iphone as her "oracle" and I asked if she had ever come across that verse in the BOM that says something about having knowledge in the palm of their hand and how that was probably talking about iphones. She hadn't but sister Smith had but neither of us could remember where it was and we spent the next 5 minutes looking for it with no success (Mom, I think that you're the one who first pointed it out to me and I was sure you could tell me where it was so please do). We also taught a nine year old investigator and her dad the restoration lesson because she was last taught it about 4 months ago. It went really well. We tried to make everything as simple as possible so it would be easier for her to remember and understand and I think it helped her dad understand to.

Exchange number two was with OUR sister training leader. They had decided I would stay and take over the area with Hermana LeBaron while S.McCleery would go to Manvel with Hermana Harken (the STL). But they had made plans to cook chile rellenos at a members home for them and they realized that Hermana LeBaron was the one who knew how to cook and therefore had to stay. So I've yet to take over my area but I now know how to cook chile rellenos and will do so for everyone when I come home. They were extremely good. However, the members spoke almost no English so I was trying to remember the little Spanish from my 3 years of high school classes. I did come up with two very good sentences while I was there though. Hermana Harken had texted asking us to save her a chile and I had jokingly responded "no ayude, no come." "She doesn't help, she doesn't eat." I'm sure I absolutely butchered it but Hermana Cruz (the member) thought I was absolutely hilarious. At some point, another member joined us for supper and she asked if I spoke Spanish and I responded "entiendo un pocito y hablo menos" "I understand a very little and speak less." As I listened while we cooked though I did remember things here and there that I had forgotten and was able to say a few more things. Hermana Cruz was impressed by how Hispanic I was in cooking and eating and was proud of my efforts to speak Spanish. She complemented my pronunciation and jokingly said at one point that I was more Hispanic than Hermana Harken who is assigned to the Spanish area and actually speaks Spanish. It really was quite fun and I was reminded that my very first night in Houston I just felt absolutely certain that I would end up in a Spanish area. I guess I should see about adding in some language study time in my morning schedule. Dad will be proud.

Hermana LeBaron also made me huevos rancheros for breakfast the next morning and we got ice cream for everyone from the Paleteria (Mexican ice cream parlor) on the drive back to Friendswood. I just got a coconut popsicle because I didn't think I could eat a whole bowl of ice cream but it was absolutely delicious and I look forward to the next chance I get to stop there.

Tyrone got baptized this Saturday, which meant that almost everything went wrong Saturday as we tried to put together our program but it all worked out in the end. And man! Sister McCleery kept saying how strongly you feel the spirit at a baptism while you're on a mission but I don't think I quite believed her until I experienced it myself. The spirit apparently is so strong that 80% of investigators who attend a baptism get baptized. It's just such an amazing and important ordinance. So it was awesome. But now we have 0 progressing investigators so we have a lot of work ahead of us.

By the way, if people are ever looking for ideas of things to send me. Let it be cd's that they've put together full of white handbook approved music - I can't listen to another MoTab rendition of the Spirit of God - I just can't do it. Our mission president has expressly said that we can't have disney songs though. It's rather disappointing because one of the elders from my MTC district just said in his email this week that their only rule is you can listen to it if you wouldn't feel guilty listening to it with the Savior present. We are allowed to have movie scores though because they're classical. If you're looking for specific suggestions - maybe a few songs by Vocal Point and Noteworthy, the score of the Chronicles of Narnia (one of the sisters has it and I really like it), there's a couple of songs that I absolutely love in Prince of Egypt and Joseph Prince of Dreams (which I think are dreamworks and therefore not disqualified by President Halls no Disney restriction), and that's all I can really think of right now but if you have good music I'll totally take it.

Which reminds me, last night we had a stake performance of The Lamb of God and it was absolutely AMAZING! Definitely professional quality and a great way to start off the week before Easter

I wish I had more access than I do to talks and books that I could read during personal study but all I really have access to is whatever Ensigns we have and my Jesus the Christ, and that's all we're really allowed. I never really realized how worldly I was until I was so separated from it. Mostly I miss music. You thought it'd be my laptop but it's music and books- 

Sister Gillespie

This pic was taken by Fern Burgett the woman in red in the next picture (she's a woman who was baptized about a year ago who we've been helping with her family history work and will be going to the temple with for baptisms on Mar 30)

Monday, March 14, 2016

An Easter Message

Oh man, I'm so jealous that I'm missing a crazy storm back home. Mom may be growing sick of the rain but I love it. We did get a storm down here too but it's not quite the same as back home. Storms back home mostly feel wet; a storm down here mostly just feels humid.

Wow, it's already the start of my fourth week in the mission field. I've realized that one of the newest things for me has probably been my budget. Because I worked so much in high school and worked through college and chose to stay with family to save money, I've always had enough money to get whatever I wanted whenever I wanted and not really have to worry about how much money I had. Now I REALLY have to budget because I only have the money to get the things that I have to. I can't just get McDonalds just because I'm craving it. A meal there is $6 which could be spent on two packages of noodles and a jar of spaghetti sauce which lasts me more than one hamburger happy meal. It just goes to show that people don't realize they're privileged until they see it from the other side.

I've already been on an exchange. Since S.McCleery is an STL she has to do a companion swap with all the sisters that she's over. All four of them. Not just an exchange with each companionship but she has to be companions with each of the sisters for a day and President Hall asked her to do it before transfers. So we did an exchange this last week with the sisters in Angleton; S.Waite came to Friendswood to be with S.McCleery and I went out to Angleton to be with S.Hawkins. S.Hawkins and I got along really well because we had a lot in common but I'm sure because we have so much in common would rub each other a lot quicker than if we're paired with someone who has more differences (you know how it is, when you're with someone so much like you some of your own attributes shown in them make you doubly angry because you don't like to notice those things about yourself). We also have an exchange scheduled tomorrow with the Bay City sisters and the STL over us wants to do an exchange this Thursday. And then we'll do another exchange with the Angleton sisters next week and then it will be the Bay City sisters again. So, this month is going to be rather busy.

Tyrone is still on track to be baptized this Saturday. As S.McCleery and I were looking at everything we had to plan for a baptism, I realized how much goes into it: the program, music, prayers, talks, intermission etc. So we've got to get all of our ducks in a row for that this week.

We also just started the Easter initiative we were given 500 cards and asked to try and place all of them by general conference. S.McCleery and I have decided we can do this and save miles by driving out to the central point of group of members with our bikes. Park and then bike between member homes stopping and talking to anyone we encounter and knocking on the homes around a member if the member isn't home (which is the only time we're allowed to do door to door proselyting). That way we'll meet new people and be able to see some less actives and be able to get active members excited about sharing the message to.

The video associated with the Easter campaign can be found on followhim.mormon.org for those of you who haven't seen it. The video talks about how following the savior grants us new life but also promises us that someday we and everyone we love can be resurrected. It's amazing how much the Atonement does for us. I think we sometimes forget how INFINITE the Atonement is. I think a lot of people around the world also don't realize how much they're missing out on.

One of the things that we run into a lot down here is "no thanks, I'm already save." It's like, yes that's right, the Savior's Atonement has saved us all from death but are you taking full advantage of everything else it promises us? It's one thing to believe in Christ - to believe that he suffered for our sins and pains and afflictions and died on the cross and was resurrected so we can live again - but do you KNOW that he did that for YOU are you ready to accept his grace and his mercy for every second and every minute that you've ever existed?

I was talking about the Atonement with S.Hawkins and we decided that the need to endure to the end - to be constantly having faith, repenting, renewing baptismal covenants, and relying on the spirit - is actually one of the most important things for realizing the full power of the Atonement in your life. Because the Atonement is infinite, each time we go through the process in believing in the Lord, acting on that belief through repentance, and renewing those ordinances it helps us understand and believe just a little bit more of the Atonement. So that when we stand before Heavenly Father at the judgement day we can truly believe and accept that Christ can transform us into something celestial. If we don't come to that full understanding, when we stand before God and Christ offers to take everything there will be things that we can't give up because sure you believe in Christ but you don't believe/trust that Christ can take it all.

I probably didn't explain that very well but I suggest you all read "Believing Christ" by Stephen E. Robinson because he says it in ways that I can't.

Love you all and loving you more as I learn to love as the Lord loves.

Sister Gillespie

Monday, March 7, 2016

Week Two

I can barely keep track of all the meetings we plan each week and so have
been religiously recording everything in my planner(I'm incredibly grateful
for our planners). This will be another pretty straight forward p-day - we
keep talking about visiting Brazos Bend (A gator park near-ish us that a
ward member would be willing to take us to) on one of our p-days but we
keep pushing it back and it probably won't happen until the end of the
transfer. We have a really awesome investigator named Tyrone who has a
baptism date set for March 19th. He's one of those investigators who was
really prepared to hear the gospel. He studied the bible a lot in his ~50
years of life and so every lesson that with him is always full of "duhs"
and "that's exactly what I thought." He also seems rather excited to set
the Temple as his next goal because he got a tour of temple square once and
he said it was beautiful and awesome.

But what is really amazing is that this Sunday we met with his wife who has
been really leery of meeting us because she grew up forced into church in a
Jehovah Witness household so she doesn't like organized religion so it was
basically a miracle that she agreed to have a lesson with us at all. But
the lesson went GREAT. I think what helped a lot is that we allowed her to
talk quite about the AA program and what it's done with her and how much
she believes in it for everyone. I then related the gospel and what we do
as missionaries to the AA program and what she does as one of the mentors.
I told her that just like her we had a program (the Gospel) that we know
works because we've seen it work in our lives to help make us happier and
all the challenges in our life easier to face. And so just like her we have
a faith and enthusiasm for it and want to share that same knowledge with
other people. She agreed to meet with us again for another lesson without
her husband present on Tuesday evening so she's an official and very SOLID
new investigator.

I'm finding that my trainer being a STL (sister training leader for those
of you reading this that don't know that acronym) makes this mission quite
a bit busier and has a few advantages as well. First of all, since she had
an MLC (mission leader conference) this past Friday she was able to pick up
any mail that I may have had sent to me via the mission office. Which
admittedly was just a letter from Kasee and Seth Bailey (which was a super
awesome letter and I need to send a response but what the heck family! How
is it that my first letter was from someone who isn't a family member. Step
up your game). And I got to go with her to a Stake Correlation Meeting on

OH MAN!!! That meeting was super good and uplifting. Plus, the stake
president let me and S.McCleery stay and eat pork nachos with them
afterword, which was truly a blessing because we didn't have a dinner
appointment and we had started our fast at 6 on Saturday and we hadn't
broken it yet and we had an appointment that was super close to the mission
presidents home and not having to go home for supper and drive back to the
appointment saved us a lot of miles. And the nachos were ridiculously
delicious; they were almost as good as the meeting itself.

So the meeting focused a lot on the stake's challenge to the members. Which
seems rather simple but  it's getting as much implementation as something
this easy should be. It's to "make friends and when the time is right,
invite them." What we talked about is how a lot of us have forgotten how to
make friends and how easy it is. I wrote one note that I wanted to share
with you all; it might seem REALLY obvious but I feel that a lot of us
aren't doing it: "to make friends you have to be friendly." That's it. You
sit down with someone you've never sat next to at church and just talk to
them. You smile at people you pass as your grocery shopping in safeway. You
ask people how they're doing and legitimately want to hear their answer.
You need to make friends. And here's what will happen. As you develop those
strong friendships "gospel discussions will be a natural fruit of those
relationships." The stake president gave us three scriptures (D&C 14:9;
82:19; 88:67-68) and told us to write a statement from those three

Here's what I wrote "As we seek to help and love others in following the
example of Christ, we will be filled with light which is the light of
Christ." We talked about how people are naturally drawn to that light and
how they notice something different about us. And as they notice that,
they'll ask us about it and because we have a real and honest
friendship/relationship with them they'll listen sincerely to our answer.

Here's what else I added to this discussion yesterday from my studies this
morning: Romans 1:16 "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ..." To
be a good member missionary you just have to be yourself and a big part of
who you are is what you believe. So, let it show.

It's been pretty amazing that every time I think about how long I've been on the mission my thought is it's only been 2 weeks... wait?! it's already been two weeks. I can understand why everyone talks about their mission rushing by even if the day to day and week to week seems to last forever because you're always doing to so much.

In relief society last Sunday they showed a video of a horse race where a horse named "Far From Over" stumbled out of the gate and fell far behind but eventually overtook every last horse and won first. It was rather inspiring for both a missionary and anyone else. That no matter our stumbles and losses and trials, our race is "Far From Over."

I love you all so much and I really feel myself growing in confidence,
happiness, and life on this mission.

Wishing you all the best,
Sister Gillespie

*Sister Gillespie*

First Week in Houston

First off, I was assigned to the Friendswood, Texas area and my trainer is a Sister McCleery as you can see... she's significantly tall than I am. Which I hadn't really noticed until I was looking at this picture. She hadn't really noticed that I was fairly short until I complained about it because going from lesson to lesson and having to present myself in  a proper and professional way when my feet generally don't touch the floor sitting on their chairs was making me tired. She said it seemed more like I was 5'6" or 5'7" rather than my short 5'2.5". I'm going to attribute that entirely to the spirit thinking I'd be taken more seriously if I at least FELT taller

My mission Prez, President Hall, and his wife are both very awesome and I wish that I had been assigned to his area in Sugarland but they mostly just need Spanish speaking missionaries around there. There were four of us missionaries assigned that first day (2 Spanish and 2 english) and I was half afraid that I would be assigned to one of the Spanish trainers. Thank goodness I was not. I was surprised that I got assigned to the car area and not the bike area though which I was temporarily disappointed about until I remembered how hot the summers would be, then I was EXTREMELY grateful.
My apartment is about what you'd expect for a missionary apartment.

My first week in the mission field has been pretty hard. I'm sure nobody wants to hear that it's hard but that's the truth of it. Sister McCleery's previous companion had to go home because of health issues and so she was put in a threesome with another companionship and was working in their area for the last month. So, she says that the work we have to do now is basically like opening up a new area. It's a lot of less actives and a couple investigators that haven't seen a missionary for at least 2 weeks. The idle time between driving to different appointments and trying to get a hold of people is probably what is hardest. When we actually sit down to teach a lesson, I enjoy it immensely and feel the spirit and rather competent (which I'll attribute entirely to my MTC teacher Brother Bishop).
Sister McCleery told me her frightening prediction the other day. She was called to be one of the STL's at the same time she was asked to be a trainer and she's been in the Friendswood area for about 6/7 months now. So, she expects that she'll be transferred at the next transfer before she's finished training me and that I'll therefore have to take over the area before I've been fully trained. She also said I'll train at 3 months which I think would be a horrible idea on everybody's part.
Bishop Chidester (our area's bishop) had us over last night to teach his family the Restoration lesson that helps them teach it to others (he had heard about it through the grapevine apparently). And he absolutely loved it so we've got our bishop's 100% support for the area right now. Not to toot my own horn (or as Alma said I do not boast of myself) but he said I taught as if I was an experienced missionary and not a greeny, this I will attribute that one entirely to the spirit and BroBish's class. But the lessons have been good.

My first Sunday in the MTC during sacrament I had this thought "you're speaking next Sunday" so I chose a title "Faith in the Storms of Life" and three scripture references: Matthew 14: 28-32, Matthew 8: 23-26, and Ether 6: 5-12. And decided the talk would be about having faith in the savior to deliver you from trials and faith that some tribulations are for our gain. The following Sunday we were informed that, since Branch President Taylor was being released in Sacrament that day, the whole MTC presidency would be attending our meeting and to make sure we included a Preach My Gospel quote/reference. So I chose a short quote slapped that in my notes and called it good; mind you, at this point I still had the feeling "you're speaking today." Sure, the talk only had to be 5 minutes but here I was with the certainty that I was speaking and the knowledge that it would be in front of President Burgess and his two counselors and I somehow thought I didn't need to write ANYTHING out. Let me tell you; I was seriously contemplating those actions when I was called up to talk first in the meeting. I felt like it was stumbling and two much scripture reading and not enough explaining and illustrating. I got down from the pulpit thinking - "man, President Burgess is going to think he's sending out a very poorly prepared missionary. He might as well send me home now." But at the end of Sacrament now released President Taylor thanked me for my wonderful talk and said that all PresBurgess had said as I returned to my seat was "Wow!" All I can say on that matter is - I'm very happy that everyone that thanked me that day heard the talk the spirit prepared instead of the one I did.

Here's my apartment (pay no attention to the garments that are drying on my bed because the apartment dryer is crappy).

​And here's a couple things from my notebook that I drew in the MTC.

A couple of spiritual thoughts for you:

The commandment Christ always gave was not "Believe in me," he commanded "Come follow me." Often what we encounter and will encounter in the south is I've already been saved but that's not what Christ has asked us to do. Yes, it's our faith that allows him to act on and through us but the commandment was to FOLLOW. 1 Peter 2:21

In Matthew 19:20 a rich young man who was raised and lived righteously asked "Lord, what lack I yet?" I think what I've been struggling a bit this first week on my mission is a similar thought but allow me to turn the phrase a bit - "Lord, WHY lack I yet?" I answered God's call when he told me it's finally time to go on a mission, and I left with a really strong testimony, and out here on the mission I'm being exactly obedient and I think I've done pretty good about not carrying "weapons of rebellion" as you put it. And yet, it's still very hard being here. I'll admit to fantasizing about going home but I know - I KNOW - the Lord has asked me to be here now so I draw comfort this week and probably the whole of my first transfer from Mark 9:24 - "Lord, I believe. Help thou my unbelief." 

I love you all and miss you but the Lord will get me through.

Sister Gillespie