Kalene's Mission Blog

Kalene's Mission Blog

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