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. ๐Ÿ˜ฅ

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 ๐Ÿ˜‹

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 ๐Ÿ˜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 ๐Ÿ˜. 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 yet๐Ÿ˜”. 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 daunting๐Ÿ˜จ.

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?