Beautiful Guatemala

Beautiful Guatemala
Me with a random field worker. I love the knife!

Monday, December 3, 2012

My Last Letter

OK hey everyone!!!

Wow this is it guys! Agh! It still hasn’t hit me, but this will be my last email....We ended up having a great week here to finish things off! Here’s what happened:

Baptism of Yuri!!!!!! We were really really blessed to finish off with one last baptism of a partial family, Yury Monzón. I think I’ve talked a bit about them before, but we have been working with them for about a month and a half and we had had lots of challenges with them, but finally this week all the work paid off. Yuri is a young mom, her husband is a member but has been inactive since he was a kid, and we are reactivating them, and they have two kids who might be the worst behaved kids I’ve ever seen in my life ha-ha. They actually have a lot of problems within their family, as usual, but Yuri has been really brave to take the step to be baptized. I know that she did it because she really wants a better family and has realized that this is the way to do it. My comp is going to have to keep working a lot with them to help them, but I really can see them as ward and stake leaders someday and I’m really excited to keep in touch with them. :)

Besides the baptism we have been working hard, and there are a few people who are going to be ready to be baptized here soon. Sunday was testimony meeting of course, and I knew I had to share my testimony. I prayed all morning that I wouldn’t make a complete fool of myself crying too much ha-ha because I can get a little out of control saying goodbyes...and luckily I kept it together. It’s hard to explain how I feel. Honestly I’m so tired. I would love to keep going, keep serving and learning and seeing miracles...but I’m out of gas. And so it’s really bitter sweet. I’m really excited to see my family on Thursday afternoon!! But I’m really sad to stop being a misionera. But it hasn’t hit me so much yet. Agh and I’m really nervous! I’m going to have culture shock coming back to America because it’s so different here and I’ve gotten so used to it. Oh my goodness I should just stop. 

I just want to end with my testimony. I know that the church it true and that it is directed by Jesus Christ himself. I still don’t understand a lot of things, but I just know that the only way to be happy is by obeying Gods commandments, repenting daily, trying to be humble, and trying to make changes. I love the church and the gospel. It’s perfect. I know that Christ lives and is our Savior and loves us and wants the best for us. I know that through him we can change and be cleansed of our sins. I have loved sharing this with these people, and I hope that my Heavenly Father is happy with what I’ve done here with all His help. It has been the greatest honor being a representative of the church and of Jesus Christ here in Misión Guatemala Retalhuleu. I will always treasure this and always remember it. 

Thanks to everyone for your support, prayers, emails, everything! It has meant the world to me. Im excited to talk to y’all in real life soon!!!

Con mucho amor, 
Hna. Gilland

Monday, November 26, 2012

2 Baptisms and Hopefully 1 More Next Week

Hey everyone!

2ND to last email! OH MY! OK well this week went really well, here are a few highlights:

1. Baptisms!!!! On Saturday we had 2 baptisms! One was a niño, a grandson of a member. And the other was Abel!!!! Abel is the kid who has wanted to get baptized for months but his mom wouldn't give him permission, until now!!! Abel is such a great kid. We had a special lesson with him during the week to make sure he was ready for the pre-baptism interview, and when we talked about the Holy Ghost and what it is and how it feels and all that, he described it as a friend that's always with you. I just thought that was so sweet because we didn't teach him that or anything, that's really how he feels about the Holy Ghost. He is excited to go on a mission when he’s been a member for one year. He is doing this all on his own, without support of his family or anything, but the ward loves him, the whole ward was excited about his baptism. He was so happy at his service and he just knows that these things are right. His baptism really was one of the most special baptisms for me that I've been to. It’s such an honor to work with such special children of God who are so prepared. 

2. New positive investigators -- With the help of the ward missionaries, we are teaching some people who are super Evangelicos, but super positive. I haven't really actually taught that many Evangelicos because they always reject us, but these ones seem really prepared. When we ask if they've wondered why there are so many churches, they say they have, they always have, and they've always been looking for the answer and the true church. When we explain about the restoration and the Book of Mormon, they totally get it and want to read and ask God if it’s true. When we invite them to be baptized when they have an answer, they say they will. And we invited them to church and they came! We are really excited about them, and even though I won’t be around to see everything, I’d say they'll be getting baptized soon. We saw lots of little miracles this week with them and I hope that we can work with them this week and set a baptismal date with them. They're prepared! 

3. Well guys, I'm really hoping that next week, in my last email, I can write that my last baptism was a girl named Yury. Her husband is a member but his inactive, but we are reactivating him! They've gone to church now 4 times and she is totally totally ready, just nervous I think and not wanting to make the decision. But we are going to be working with them all week of course....They're a special family for us and I can really see the husband as a leader in the church someday. He’s got a whole lot to learn, and a whole lot to change, but I can picture it. 

Well, of course right now I've been reflecting a lot on the past year and a half, all I've learned and experienced and all the miracles that I've seen. I'm just really grateful for my Savior and the miracles He’s done in my life. Today we are having a special Hermana’s Conference with all the sisters in the mission, mostly because 5 of us are leaving next week, and President is talking a lot about our conversion and if we have really been converted or not here. I still have a really long ways to go, but I hope to always remember and put into practice what I've learned here. Ha, I've got one more week to go!  I'm grateful for the Gospel and for all that I have been given, and I know that this is the Lords church and His work. I hope everyone has a great week!!! Thanks for everything!

Hermana Gilland

Monday, November 19, 2012

Abel Gets Permission to be Baptized!

Hi everyone!

After this email only 2 more! Yikes! Ok anyways, we are doing ok here in Muluá. Actually this week had a few big disappointments, because around Wednesday we were feeling good, we had put baptismal dates with 5 people, 2 families, but then Thursday and Friday everything fell apart and got canceled or that’s not fun when you have 2 weeks left, because there is NO TIME to postpone the baptisms! Agh! But that’s how it goes. Me and hna. Argueta's motto is "We can’t do it all!" ha-ha, because we can only try our best. But anyways, some good things did happen this week, here’s what went down:

1. Permission for Abel! YAY!   So we have been teaching this kid named Abel, he’s 17, for a few months now. He’s been going to church for about 4 months and has wanted to get baptized and everything, but his parents are super evangelicos and wouldn’t give him permission para nada. But he is such a great kid! He goes to church every Sunday, gets there on time, goes to the youth activities, and even went on the young men’s campout last week. He’s been praying and has even fasted so that his mom would give him permission. He really likes the church. The whole time I’ve been here we have been trying to figure out the best way to get permission from the first she wouldn’t really talk to us. But a few weeks ago we had a good chat with her about her son, the church, the youth programs, etc. to make her feel better about the campout. We came up with a pretty good plan, got Abel to write down his testimony on a piece of paper, and on Sunday went and had a nice experience with the mom and in the end she signed and gave him permission!!!!!  Abel was SO HAPPY!!!! And so were we! He’s been going to church here since way before I got here, and he is finally going to be able to get baptized! We of course are hoping for this Saturday, we haven’t really gotten to talk to him about it yet, but I’m sure he'll want to. We are so excited for him, and I know he is so happy. I really think that he'll make a great missionary someday soon! 

2. Familia Martinez -- Well I don’t know if yall remember familia Martinez. They are the family where we made grilled cheese and all that. Well we are still working with them, but it’s been really hard and discouraging. I don’t remember everything I’ve written about them, but basically the hno. Hermelindo is super awesome and wants to get baptized really badly, and his wife, Pati, is crazy and super stubborn and won’t budge! Agh! I’m not even going to explain what her deal is.  Last Monday we had a super special experience with them when Presidente Maravilla, the mission president, invited them for a family home evening at the church. We thought that would surely do the trick! And it almost did because on Wednesday we set a baptismal date with them and we were so happy!!!!! I was overjoyed because they are such a special family for me.  But then on Thursday everything fell apart again. We had brought the fixins to make hot dogs with them and celebrate a bit, but everything exploded and Pati said that she had decided to never get baptized ever and she is just crazy! Her husband was soooo sad :( because he had been so excited about getting baptized. He can’t get baptized without her because they aren’t married and have to get married first. And he doesn’t want to do it without her. AGH!!!! So we are kind of giving them a break. We will hopefully go this week, because I still have a little hope because I have to have hope, but it’s looking slim. Ahh ohh well, we seriously have done EVERYTHING with them, and if EVERYTHING isn’t enough, there is nothing else we could have done. But yea, that was a HUGE GIANT bummer for the week. 

We are still excited about Abel’s baptism (hopefully). And we have another girl whose husband is a member who will probably get baptized on Saturday too. So we are working hard and I am really hopeful for these guys!

Other than that I’m feeling good! I’m getting super nervous about going home, but it’s exciting at the same time! I love being a missionary and am so grateful for the time that I’ve had here. I love the gospel and know that it’s true. I’ve been studying the Book of Mormon a lot because President asked us to start over and read it again. Even though I’ve read the first chapters like a thousand times, they are great! I’m learning so much in 1 Nefi! I know that the Book of Mormon is true. And therefore, I know that the church is true. I love the gospel and my family and all the blessings that the Lord has given me. 

Have an awesome week! This week is thanksgiving, right? Everyone be thankful for AMERICA! It is the BEST. Thanks for everything!

Hna Gilland    

Monday, November 12, 2012

Earthquake and Miracles

Hello everyone!!
It sounded like the earthquake went pretty public, I really don’t know because we don’t watch TV. My mom says everyone wants to hear how it was. Just so ya know, we are like 1:30 from San Marcos, the place most affected. Growing up in West Texas, I had no idea what an earthquake felt like before the mission, so this is all new for me. This one was really strong and everyone freaked out big time, but where we were no one got hurt at all, nothing fell down, nothing was affected. When it was happening everyone just ran out of their houses because they could all easily fall down. My comp and I were outside of this mean lady's house trying to get her to come to the door. She won’t give permission so that her 17 year old son can get baptized, and she wouldn’t even talk to us, and so when ground started shaking, I say, totally serious, "Awesome, maybe she’ll come outside now!"  She didn’t, but almost. I think it was a sign from Heavenly Father telling her to give him permission, but I guess she didn’t feel the same. Oh well we are working on her. I really wish I could give a cooler story about the earthquake, but that’s about it. It’s been the main topic of conversation for the past week with the people. There were lots of rumors that within 48 hours another would hit worst, but nope. I bet that y’all know more about it than I do, I’d love to know what the missionaries in San Marcos were doing, how it all went down, but I haven’t heard anything. Hopefully another one doesn’t hit!
Ok well everything’s been crazy here in Muluá! We are crazy!!! We have had lots of miracles, and I think we’ll have a few more. We are doing awesome! Here are a few of the great things that happened.
We are really happy because the wedding and baptism went smooth and all turned out well. We kept it really simple, just decorated a bit and had a beautiful cake made by our RS pres. Everyone seemed really happy. We didn’t invite many people, just a few members and our investigators (more on that in #2!) The newlyweds looked SO NERVOUS! They were frozen when the lawyer was marrying them, they’re both really shy. A really special moment for me was when Idelia's now father-in-law shared with us how grateful he was for everything. He explained to us that about a year ago his whole family was inactive, but that he and 8 year old Helen started going to church again even though his whole family was falling apart and he and his wife almost got divorced. He said that he prayed so much that things would change. Well, we’ve had the opportunity to work with the whole family (of 8ish) the past 2 months, and now most of them are pretty much active again! He knows as well as we do that they’re not out of the woods yet, but they’re on their way :) And now his daughter and daughter-in-law are members! I was really touched when he was explaining this to us because I honestly hadn’t thought of it all like that. But seriously all this was the Lords timing and the Lord answering his prayers. What a privilege it’s been to work with them, to see changes in them, to see that their home is happier and different. And now they’re all members! They still have a ways to go, but I really have high hopes for the whole family. It was a really special wedding-baptism for this reason, and also for some other miracles below!
2. MIRACLE!! Ok so this next story is definitely in my top2 mission miracles, I just hope I can explain it well so y’all can capture it. So, apart from Idelia, the partial family we just baptized, we are teaching 3 other families/partial families (I’ve mentioned most of them before), and they’re all pretty positive, they’ve all been to church at least a few times, but they all have their special challenges and needs. So it’s really rare to have 4 positive families at once, so the mission leaders are all hovering around telling us we have to baptize them all -- but it’s not quite that easy! But our impossible goal last week became….. bring all 3 families to the baptism. I mean, it really was an impossible goal, but we just knew that it would help the families get excited about their own baptisms. And just a reminder, normally if you want to bring someone to church or a meeting, you have to go and get them, and sometimes drag them there. To make a long story a little shorter, we'll call them fam. 1, fam. 2 and fam. 3 -- We had invited them a few days before, and went to pass by for each of them. We go to fam1, their extended family lie to us and tell us that they aren’t there.  We give up on them, disappointed, and go with fam. 2.  Their neighbors say that the whole family already left to go to the baptism --what?! There’s no way?!  We couldn’t believe it until we saw it. We literally ran a mile until sure enough, we saw them in the distance almost at the church! YAY! One down! Miracle! Now to fam. 3; we run to their house and wait and wait for them to get ready.  They were taking forever and we were already going to be a half hour late for our own baptism, so we left.  We weren’t sure if they’d make it or not. 
We get to the service and fam. 2 is there, yay!  The wedding starts.... and in walks fam.1 out of nowhere! They came?! We about died. And then, 20 minutes later...fam.3 shows up too! So in the end all 3 families showed up BY THEMSELVES and all enjoyed it :) Ha-ha!  We had nothing to do with it, really. We were just running (literally running) all over town for the heck of it, because the all showed up! Now they are all one big step closer to their own baptisms. 
We are so stressed now. We are trying to do everything to help these 3 families and a few other investigators we have. We are so close with so many people. Man, they’ve all got to get baptized! It would be crazy to baptize them all, but it’s our goal. It has to be our goal! I mean, I’ve got 3 weeks left -- this is it! Do or die. Go big and go home! We are super pumped about this week and have some big stuff planned. So we’ve got to do this.
I really appreciate your support and prayers. I know that this is God’s work. We have seen so many miracles here and will continue to see them. I know that the church is true and that families are so important to our Heavenly Father, that He has a special plan for them. We missionaries are here looking for them so we can help them learn about this plan. I love being a missionary and am so grateful for my area, my comp, and for everything that is helping me focus until the end. I’m just trying not to think about it too much! Yikes!!! Well, thanks for everything and I hope that y’all have a great week.
Tune in next week to hear about some more miracles and baptisms!

Hna Gilland

Monday, November 5, 2012

Don't Worry Mom, He Isn't Dangerous........We Could Always Hit Him With Our Umbrellas

Hey guys!!!

I feel like I just wrote a few days ago. I hope everyone’s doing well! Happy birthday Granny!!! We had a really great week and I am learning so much. We are so dang busy and there is just not enough time to do everything! But here are some of our experiences we had this week:

1. We finally put the baptismal date with Idelia!!!!!!!  Agh!  This week was rough at first because we were working really hard with the families that we are teaching but they weren’t progressing at all and we just didn’t know what to do and what we were doing wrong. I was stressed because I’m almost outa here.  I can’t just go home with nothing going on. So Friday we planned some really good things to do; we were going to contact several references we had received the day before and go with 3 partial families in the afternoon. But seriously everything fell. Not one of the references was even a little bit positive, and everything fell in the afternoon and we ended up wasting a lot of time. It feels really really crappy to go home at the end of the day, when you’ve only got so many days left out here, with nothing at all to show for it. Geez, I read my favorite chapter in the Book of Mormon, Ether 12, and wrote in my journal, and I don’t know, I just felt ok and felt like we had put in our all that day and that the Lord was going to bless us and that we just had to keep having faith, even more faith...... And the next morning we had a giant miracle and managed to set the baptismal date with Idelia!!!!! I am so excited!!! I don’t know if y’all remember me writing about her, but she is the partial family where we had a really special, really simple lesson a few weeks ago. I don’t know what happened or how, but she finally accepted a date. They have to get married first, so we get to plan another wedding!!!! Yay! That’s fun, a little stressful, but fun :) Wow we still can’t believe it! So if everything turns out, this weekend is their wedding and her baptism!!!!!

2. More partial families!!!  Seriously this area is full full full of partial families that we keep finding. We have one right now, familia Monzòn, who are really positive. The husband was baptized like 20 years ago and the wife’s not a member (yet). The husband is really excited to make changes in his life. The wife isn’t quite as excited about everything, but she’s nice and listens to us, and we know that if they just start praying and reading the scriptures together, shell want to get baptized. They went to church on Sunday and were really happy there, and have been to church in the past, and have lots of family members who are members, so it’s only a matter of time. The husband has a little gym and has invited us to come for free! That’s great for a few reasons: one, we know he really likes us, and two, because we can work out and I can get into a little better shape before I go home. 

The one big obstacle or one of the big obstacles is that they live over by where this crazy angry American-hating drunk who apparently was in prison for 20 years in America lives.  He goes to the gym all the time. The first time we met him last week, we were talking to the family on their porch for the first time, and he came and kind of cornered us there and was asking us questions about how he could be a missionary like us and serve in America (not the first time I’ve heard that). We tried to explain to him that he can’t be a missionary for several reasons, and I kind of lost my temper with him because we were trying to contact this awesome family and he was totally ruining it!  He just got angry and was yelling and causing a scene about how missionaries can get into any country easy and that it wasn’t fair and that we needed to get out of Guatemala because it’s his country and all this stuff, some in English, with lots of bad words. And he wouldn’t leave. So we had to hide in the house for a while until he left and then sneak home. Now we seem to find him all the time and he always comes over and starts yelling and he’s really rude. My biggest concern is that we have caused problems between him and the family, and that the whole neighborhood is listening to what he says about the church.  He claims that we are spies from America (not the first time I’ve hear that), etc. But yea, there’s always something right? In a way it’s kind of funny.  Don’t worry mom, he isn’t dangerous.  He’s not going to hurt us or anything.  He’s all talk!   We can always hit him with our umbrellas! Ha-ha. 

Well, I’m about out of time but I love being a missionary and I know that the church is true!  I know that what we are teaching, everyone needs to hear.  We are working really hard. I hope y’all have a great week and I really hope that Romney wins!!!

Hna Gilland

Monday, October 29, 2012

Family Martinez Killed a Chicken for Us!!!!!

Hey guys!!

Here’s what happened this week:
1. CHANGES! Wow so I was really sad when they told us that my comp. Hna Cuzco had changes and would be leaving...but I was so excited when they announced that HNA ARGUETA was my new comp!!! Hna Argueta is awesome! We knew each other from Mazate and always talked about how cool it would be to be comps, but thought they’d never put us together because even though she has a Latina name, she’s from California, and the mission never puts gringas together ever. We were shocked and so excited!! So whew, my last change here, and hna Argueta will be killing me, as we say.  I’m not going to lie, at first it felt so weird to be back with an American. I don’t know why, it was just really weird! I think that having hna. Argueta is going to help me make the adjustment to regular life in America, and I think that will be good so I don’t come home quite as weird. All yall have to be nice to me when I come home, even when I’m weird and just want to talk about Guatemala all day long. Ha-ha agh!!!!

2. Our 2 families....... man, I wish I could say that we made some progress with our families, but we are pretty much the same. They are both so close, but we don’t know what to do with them! I don’t even want to explain all the craziness because it’s just too complicated, but basically with Fam. Martinez, Hna Paty is crazy and we just don’t even know what to do with her. We are trying everything!! With Idelia, we have their wedding planned; we just have to help her want to get baptized too, minor detail. We are so stressed about everything, and at the same time trying to find new families, trying to help all the recent converts in this ward keep going (and there are about 20 that we have to visit every week), and just trying to keep going in our rough living conditions and all. Like my dad and tennis coaches all said though, I’m "leaving it all on the court" and trying to give it my all. AGH I’m freaking out.

3. Even though fam. Martinez is crazy and stressing us out, we still love them so much, and I just wanted to share the sweet thing they did for us. We had told them last week that maybe Hna. Cuzco was going to have changes and that Tuesday might be her last day. Well, without even knowing for sure, they planned quite the special dinner for us. Let me just remind yall, they have NOTHING at all! They killed one of their chickens that morning and made chicken stew stuff. That’s something really special. I was kind of asking how often they killed chickens or when they’d kill the next one, and they said maybe at Christmas. WOW right?! I just love the people here because they give us everything they have, and I don’t even know why. This family is so special to me and we just have to figure out how we are going to help them, now. AGH!

Well I can’t think of anything else very cool...sorry...but thanks for all of y'alls support and prayers, they are needed!!! We are working our hardest here!! Hope y'all have a great week!

Hna Gilland

Monday, October 22, 2012


Hey everyone!
Before I tell about the week, right now I just had a wild experience reading my family’s emails. If my mom wants, she can cut this part out of the email, but it’s just a funny story that I think y'all will get a kick out of. So to use internet here in Guatemala, we go to public Internets with like 25 computers, and most of the missionaries use internet at the same time. I open my internet and check out who wrote me, open a few and get to my dad’s. My dad tells me that they are seriously thinking of moving to Utah, but this time really seriously. Well, all of y'all who know my family know that my dad’s been saying that since I was about 10 years old, so I was like whatever, next email. Then I open my mom’s email and she tells me "I haven’t told you anything because I didn't want to distract you, but we found a house in Utah that we really like and we are putting our house for sale on Wednesday, and if we sell in 60 days we are moving to Utah"... SURPRISE!  What?! I read the whole email a few times in shock, because that’s like the typical thing that happens to a missionary, right? Ha-ha. After halfway processing, I turn around and announce to the whole internet cafe, "My family is selling the house!" Ha-ha everyone was laughing. My family is crazy right?!   No one freak out too much, if everything works out they won’t be moving until June.  But yea what an email! (Mom you can cut this if it’s a secret or something...)
OK so back to the mission, things are moving right along here. Well, time is moving right along. Other things, not so much, but we are trying. We actually didn't have the most successful week. I was really hoping to have the wedding-baptism of Familia Martinez...but they still aren't ready. Mostly Hna Patricia isn't ready. We don’t know what to do with her! She tells us she wants to keep going to her old church. Like I've said a million times, the churches here are crazy and just yell and scream, so I have no idea why she wants to keep going to that church, by herself, while her husband and kids come with us to the beautiful chapel here in Muluá. But we are really trying to go about things as Jesus Christ would, with love and all. Whew. I just know they are going to get baptized, and you better believe that they’ll be getting baptized in the next month and a half. But we will have to work hard at it. 
We are also working with a young family where the husband, Ludwing, is an inactive member, but his wife, Idelia, isn't (I don’t remember if I already explained about them). They have a little baby girl. They are a special family and we really had some special experiences with them this past week. We've been going with them for like 3 weeks, but with little success until this past week. I really think that she’ll be getting baptized in the next few weeks. It’s a little complicated for a few reasons.  Idelia is like SUUUPER shy, super super shy. And from my judgment, she has some learning disabilities or something. She doesn't know anything about religion or God or Jesus or anything, or at least when we asked her she didn't respond at all. That’s kind of a rarity here in Guatemala. So we've got Idelia, who is the focus because we want to baptize her, and then the husband and his family who are all members, some active and some not. They all like to take over the lessons and talk a lot, and Idelia kind of goes unnoticed. When we try to focus on Idelia more, she obviously feels uncomfortable, and when we ask her a really really basic question, she doesn't answer. We are more than happy to wait patiently, to teach slowly (that’s the name of the game here in Guatemala), but the family all get really impatient, and the husband is like "just answer, just say yes or no, just say something, I can’t believe you’re not going to say anything, you just don’t understand"...etc. So as you can imagine, that definitely doesn't invite the spirit at all. And we had tried going to the house at different times, but there’s never any telling who’s going to be around. So we were really hoping and praying so much for the opportunity to have a nice, spiritual lesson with Idelia, without the whole family, just her and her husband or something like that.  The lord blessed us. We went last Wednesday, and somehow we got just Idelia and Ludwing. We sang and prayed.  I was praying hard in my heart for the right words to say. We ended up sharing what was one of the most basic lessons of my whole mission. My comp said that she was trying to imagine teaching her 5 year old nephew, but she had to be even more basic.  We just used a few pictures of Jesus Christ and talked about how much he loves us. We compared the feelings she has for her baby daughter to the feelings that Heavenly Father has for us. I guess you could say we were trying to help her to get to know Jesus. We asked some good questions, like "would you like to meet Jesus?" "Would you like to talk to Jesus?" and she said yes. I know that they say that yes-no questions are bad, and that everything we said wasn't totally doctrinally correct.  We had to teach that basic. We just simply explained about prayer, that she could talk to Jesus in prayer. Really what we said was so simple, but the spirit was SO STRONG. Oh my goodness!  And the husband, instead of negatively urging his wife to answer, was patiently listening.  He was captivated by the wonderful feelings in the room. His heart was totally softened and it was a miracle.   Not just right then - he hadn't gone to church in a really long time, and wasn't really taking anything in his life seriously.  By the spirit, the lesson gave him a hunger to go to church, to listen to us the next time, to start making small changes in his life.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ is that basic. My own testimony was strengthened a lot in the power of the love of Jesus Christ for us. This was one of the most beautiful lessons in my whole mission. Of course had nothing to do with us missionaries; we didn't say anything fancy at all. Spanish-wise I probably could have given that lesson in the MTC because we just talked really simply. But somehow the spirit was so strong. When we talk about baptism with her, it makes her really nervous.   I know that soon she will want to follow the example of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  It will be wonderful. I am just really grateful for that experience; it’s something I will always remember. I love the Gospel, and when a doubt creeps in, I just have to remember experiences like that. These things are real. God lives, His son is Jesus Christ, and He loves us so much that he suffered everything for us, to give us the chance to come to earth, learn, and to come back to Him. I know that these things are true! Have a great week!!
Hermana Gilland

Monday, October 15, 2012

I am Really Sad That This is Coming to an End!!!

Hey everyone!!

OK I’m freaking out because my flight plans came today in an email. I’m not baggy(trunky). I just want y’all to understand how I feel about everything and if I leave out big things, you won’t know how I’m feeling. Anyways, I cried a little bit (shocker right? I’m such a crybaby!) Just now,  I’m really sad that this is coming to an end. I still have a month and a half!! But yea... take a deep breath... OK. But yea, we had a great week!!! I’m excited to share what’s going on!

Familia Martinez Reyes!!!  I think everything I’m going to share has to do with this family. We are moving right along with them and had some great experiences. Where shall I begin? We pretty much have a secure baptismal date for this Saturday Oct 20. They have to get married right before, and baptized right after. It has truly been a blessing to meet these guys and teach them and everything, they’re really special and I love them so much! 

With this family I’m really learning about the importance and power of love. Very simple, right? I don’t know, I've opened my own heart up to this family so much, and the love I have for them motivates me (and my comp) to do everything we possibly can to help them. I just love them so much, and they have so many needs, economical, spiritual, etc., and I know that when they get married and baptized, obeying 2 really important commandments of the Lord, the Lord will be able to bless them so much. And I just want more than anything these blessings for this family. 

Something special that we did with them last week was that we made grilled-cheese sandwiches with them!! Ha-ha it was my idea, and it had a few flaws. People don’t eat grilled cheese sandwiches here, so I thought it would be a cool "cultural experience" for them and at the same time super easy for us. Making grilled cheese sandwiches with family Martinez first meant that Hno Hermelindo had to go chop firewood. Next we had to get the fire going. I’m going to try to describe the "stove" that lots of people who have nothing use. It’s a giant metal barrel filled almost to the top with cement, leaving about a foot of space empty. They then cut out part of the foot of metal barrel. And that’s about it. On top of the cement they have the fire. So we had to keep the fire going -- I was zero help in that (I really should have gone to boy scouts to prepare for the mission), everyone thinks I’m ridiculous because I can’t do things like kill chickens and light fires and make perfect tortillas and because I’m scared of wild dogs -- whatever.  So anyways, grilled cheese was tricky because the fire is really hot and burns the bread if you leave it on the skillet too long, but the cheese never really melted, so I don’t know ha-ha. It was quite the ordeal really.

When we had the sandwiches made, the 2 little kids (Jessica Fernanda 7 and Wilbur Fernando 8) were really hungry of course and we got right to eating. They had never eaten anything like a grilled cheese. They asked what the cheese was, what the bread was, and they ended up taking them apart and eating them all weird because they didn't know how a sandwich was eaten properly. Here in Guatemala they sell regular sandwich bread and American cheese slices at the grocery store, but they are luxuries that the 2 kids had never experienced. It made me sad to see. The kids are really skinny and small, really malnourished. They are in school, but their mom can’t read, so she can’t help them at all with their homework, and so they keep failing their classes. And here there aren't any special programs for kids who are having a hard time. If you don’t pass, you can’t move up, and eventually you just stop going. That is a huge giant reason why I want to help these guys -- because they need lots and lots of blessings!!!!

It’s been neat to teach Hno Hermelindo because he is so humble and teachable. With him it’s so "by the book", we start teaching him a principle, like baptism for example, he gives us his opinion and why he doesn't want to be baptized, we teach him with the scriptures, really simply and directly, he understands, he changes his thinking and wants to obey. I know that I need to be a little more like that, or a lot more like that better said. We just teach him principle by principle, and see changes in him. We were so happy bringing them to church on Sunday! We had to teach him well about keeping the Sabbath day holy, but in the end they understood. 

They are a wonderful family and I love them so much, and we are going to be working hard so that they can get married and baptized this coming Saturday! We've got to work hard, but I just know that it’s what they need and how they can receive lots of blessings. 

I really don’t know what else to tell y’all about this week -- We are working really hard and having wonderful experiences every day. I really love being a missionary. I just know that this is the true gospel. I know it with all my heart. I’m so glad for this chance to be fighting on the Lords team here. There is so much to do, so much we need to do better, and through the Atonement of Jesus Christ each of us can do better in whatever the Lord has given us to do. I testify that this is the true church of Jesus Christ, that he is at the head, that he directs it, and that all people need to hear about it. I love the gospel. And I love being a missionary. 

Have a fantastic week everyone! I really enjoyed receiving some special emails today and am really grateful for the time you take to write me. Thanks!!

 Hermana Gilland

Friday, October 12, 2012

I am Shocked and Excited About the Missionary Age Change

Hey everyone!

We are doing just great here and I LOVED conference! Whew!

1. Wow the age change!! I’m shocked and so happy! I just couldn't believe it, it was the last thing I expected to hear in conference. I've always said that all the girls should just go even though they have to wait, and now I’m really saying it! Now there are hardly any reasons not to go, because really no one should be getting married at 18. GO! Ha, the first thing I said to the elders watching around me was "who are y'all gonna date when you get home now?!" Ha-ha! Actually one elder here who finishes at the same time as me said that his girlfriend just told him that she’s going now. But I really think it’s just great because I have learned so many things here, I have been able to help a few people, and while my "testimony" is about the same, my "conversion" is sooo much stronger, like in Elder Bednar’s talk I think it was. I loved what I think Russell M Nelson said that the mission would shape the whole destiny of the person. I’m pretty sure just a few family members read this, but if there happens to be anyone reading who is thinking of going, just go. Just fill out your papers and get the heck out of here. It’s the best thing you could do and you will never ever regret it.

I loved all of conference and the themes of repentance, service, missionary work, and how to make it through trials. Something I thought was cool was that they talked a lot about enduring through trials and serving. If we all are about to have a lot of trials, but we are all serving each other, everyone’s trials are going to be made easier by everyone. Isn't that cool? And apart from that, we will all be able to become a little more like Christ. I love that the Gospel works like that.

2. Missionaries love conference for a few reasons. One, because it’s an 8 or 10 hour feast on scripture just for us (and us gringos got to watch in English, the best!), and Two, because is 5 chances to bring people to church in one weekend! We managed to bring 2 families and a few others. I was really happy because that’s the most people I've brought to a conference. We are excited to have 2 families progressing now. We've got a few teenage kids who came and who've been wanting to get baptized, but their parents won’t give them permission yet. We are teaching a few other families here who are kind of progressing...we will see... But this area is so awesome, like I say every week, because there is so much to do, so many people to find and teach. It’s great!!!

3. Familia Martinez Reyes. I think I mentioned them last week, they’re the really poor family who cooked us a delicious meal, are progressing really well and I think they will be getting married and baptized in a few weeks. I have come to love them so much, and I want to help them because I just love them so much. They are so poor. They live in a tiny wooden-metal sheet house and all that can fit in their house are 2 beds. They cook outside on an open fire. And you know how I was complaining about having to take bucket showers? Well I shouldn't be complaining because at least we have a bathroom and a shower - familia Martinez Reyes just bathes out where the pila is, outside. But they are wonderful and I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ is what they need to make their lives better. 

4. We had a cool little experience this past week that Id like to share, about my comp listening to the promptings of the spirit. On Friday we of course had a million things planned and were racing all over town going to appointments. I noticed that my comp packed a few copies of "The Family: A proclamation for the world" in her bag and I didn't know why because we hadn't planned to go over that with anyone. We went about our day, and our last appointment was a little meeting we had organized with a member family, familia Vasquez. We had asked them to invite some recent converts who lived a few houses away, and encouraged them to invite a friend or neighbor who wasn't a member. We were pleased to arrive and find that they had invited a friend, Rubenia, an Evangelica. One of the members of familia Vasquez was going to share a short message on, you guessed it, families. He started off by reading part of the proclamation and then we were discussing it as a group, to see what Rubenia thought about it. Most Evangelica churches around here teach that when you die, you go to heaven but you will no longer recognize your family, and you all just live as floaty spirits doing nothing, all together, but without family bonds. Isn't that sad? Why would you even preach that? Lots of people who go to Evangelica churches don’t actually believe that because it’s just ridiculous that that would be Gods big plan for us, but Rubenia is one who believes that when she and her husband die, they won’t know each other anymore. But anyways, it was a great little experience for me because the member had been prompted to talk about eternal families, my comp had brought copies of the Proc, and we were able to talk a bit about the Plan that God has for us. Unfortunately, the lady had to leave all the sudden, so we couldn't finish up what we were explaining, but we were able to send her with the proc and put another appointment. I have no idea if she’s going to progress, but I've just seen countless examples of the Lord arranging everything so that the investigator can have a spiritual experience, whether or not they accept it is up to them, but the Lord is always doing his part. 

My testimony has really been strengthened this past week by the conference. I just know with all my heart that what was spoken in conference is what we all need to hear and apply in our lives. All y'all in America are lucky that you have access already to the conference. I have to wait another month at least for the Liahona. Oh well. I know that this is the true church on the earth. It just has to be. There are so many things that prove that to me. I love the gospel. I’m grateful for the patience the Lord has for us. Have a fantastic week everyone!!

Hermana Gilland

Monday, October 1, 2012

They are Feeding Us a Ton and I am Gaining Weight!!!!!

Hello everyone! 
I can’t believe we are in October...that is crazy! I hope yall had a great week. We did, it just flew by. Here’s are a few things that happened:

1. Baptism of niños Daniela and Dilan! Yay! Ha. In this mission baptizing niños is kind of looked down upon because usually the kids can’t stay active, but hey, everyone needs baptized right? I prefer to think that they are future partial families that will be ready for missionaries in several years. Anyways, the baptism went great and problem free :)

We had an interesting experience we had teaching them last week though.  They live here with their grandparents, their mom is in the US and isn’t coming back for 7 years, and their grandma is a less active we are reactivating, and we are hoping that baptizing her grandkids motivate her to go to church and spark interest in other family members. Their great aunt Beti, who lives a few houses down, was visiting one day when we went to teach. Sometimes it’s hard for me to know how to teach and where to focus when there is a big group and variety of needs, but we went for it and tried teaching "the Gospel of Jesus Christ" (A of 4) to Beti, talking about how the kids were going to get baptized, how it’s a commandment that EVERYONE gets baptized, etc. And this lady was driving me a little nuts because she was just insisting that to be baptized you have to read the bible a ton and be really prepared, and if you don’t do that you’re going to regret getting baptized. And I ask her "is someone ever going to regret obeying a commandment of God? Is someone ever going to regret doing what God wants you to do?" Well, obviously not, but she was still being all cranky about it and insisting that you have to study for years before you get baptized. Here the Evangelicals teach that a lot, that you shouldn’t get baptized unless you’ve read the Bible a lot and studied and know a whole lot of stuff -- FALSE DOCTRINE! (And if they would just read the bible for a second and think about it, they’d realize that that’s true. Jesus was always talking about how wicked the Pharisees and Sadducees and all those guys were. Jesus’ followers were poor people, people who probably couldn’t even read or study. Duh.) Christ is always talking about how we need to become as little children -- and little children don’t know much about anything, right? We read her a few verses that talked about that and that we should repent and become as little children and be baptized. And then we went about and challenged each person to be baptized -- first cranky Beti, then the uncle, and they both of course said no, maybe after learning a whole lot, but no way. Then we asked all the little kids present, and of course all of them said yes. My comp. then made a wonderful comment that that is why Jesus loves the children and tells us adults to be more like them, because they are willing to obey His commandments. It’s true. Kids definitely break lots of rules and need lots of correction, but they are teachable and correctable. And when we teach them what Jesus wants them to do and how much He loves them, they want to do it, whatever it is. I really learned a lot in that lesson, and hope in that aspect to be more like a child. 

Beti came to Daniela and Dilan's baptism, and my comp said that she saw that she was crying a bit when they were getting baptized. So she knows what we were saying is true. We will be seeing if she is willing to work with us now, or if her pride is still in the way.

2. Something I failed to mention last week is that in this area THEY ARE FEEDING US A TON!!!!  AGH! And I’m gaining weight. I haven’t gained weight my whole mission, and here in my last 2 or 3 months I’m going to ruin everything! But listen, it’s not my fault!! The people here are SOOO NICE and give us everything they have. We just pass the whole afternoon eating and eating and eating. This is my poorest area I’ve had, lots of people here have nothing at all. But they treat us so special and give us all they have. I really don’t have words to describe it, and I feel bad that I complain about so much food because the people are just so special and kind. Like yesterday, our first dinner was with a sweet little family who lives in the boonies in a one room dirt floor shack. My comp found them during the week when we did divisions with some members, and they invited us to their 7 year olds birthday dinner. They made really special food and treated us so well, and they don’t even know us! I don’t know why they think we are so special. In this ward they pass a calendar around relief society to sign up for when to feed us lunch, and the poorest people sign up the most, and it’s because they know that the Lord is going to bless them for their service. It just absolutely breaks my heart to see. And really, I just hope I can be half as decent a person as some of these people who bend over backwards to help us and serve us. It’s really special. 

But the bad part is that I’m gaining a little bit of weight, and the worst part is that I just feel so stuffed and sick all the time. ALL THE TIME. Another example: normally here I wouldn’t eat dinner because I’m still full from lunch, but one day last week the grandma of the kids who got baptized invited us over for dinner and gave us a TRUCKLOAD of food. Here it’s custom for the host to serve the plates, and we cant say that we don’t want something or want less of something. She gave us a GIANT plate of the typical dinner of eggs, beans, cream, tortillas, hot milk-rice drink, papaya, bread. And I was just dying eating it all. But I made it. But then the whole night I couldn’t even sleep because I just felt so full. Then the whole next day I was so tired. So in that aspect, it’s kind of a hard life here. I don’t really know how I’m going to make it another 2 months of constant eating. Yesterday: 1 lunch, 2 dinners, and a snack. Saturday: 2 huge lunches back to back, the snack at the baptism, and giant dinner. Man. I seriously don’t know what we are going to do here. Ha-ha.

Well that’s about all I had to share for the week. Things are going great here, and we are working really hard and rolling right along. I know that this work is really important and I have so many things to learn -- ha, sometimes I think they’re going to have to keep me out a few more months so I can learn what I need to learn. I know that the Gospel is true. I know that everyone needs to repent and be baptized and keep repenting afterwards in order to be happy in this life. I’m grateful for my Savior Jesus Christ. Thanks for everything, and have a great week!!

Hermana Gilland

Monday, September 24, 2012

I'm Loving Area Mulua

Hey guys! 
 This week we kept ourselves very busy because there is so much to do here! It feels great to have tons of appointments every day. It's way different here in Mulua.  Here's what we did:

1. We are looking like crazy for new families to teach, and I just know that they're out there, but we haven't found them quite yet. But at least here people will let us teach them! We are doing everything we can think of and working our tails off, so I know that next week Ill have some cool families to write about. I love my comp because shes still new and full of energy, and is willing to work all day long. Its crazy because Ive never had such a desire to work hard in my whole mission (nunca he tenido tantas ganas de trabajar is what I wanna say) (not that I wasn't working before), but its getting hard because I'm just so exhausted! But it doesn't matter, we are going to work so hard to find these families!

We are kind of teaching about 6 partial families, but none of them really want anything, and its a bummer. We did have a little miracle on Sunday with one of them though. Familia Tiu -the husband is a member and the wife isn't but the husband has been inactive for like 9 years - we've been going with them trying to persuade them to go to church, but they always have excuses, and we went by where they live Sunday morning but to invite someone else to church, and we saw hno Tiu and he just took off without even saying hi to us, and I was like "ugh these partial families, we are done with these guys for sure. He just runs away from us!" Well later at church before sacrament meeting had started, guess who shows up...hno Tiu! What?! We still have no idea why he came, because he hadn't been in years. His family didn't come, but still, its a big step!  So who knows, maybe we can work with his wife now! I'm excited.

My comp is funny because, this being her first area, she doesn't know how good we've got it here as far as the awesome ward, friendly people who actually listen to us, always stuff to do here, and its funny to hear her complain (not that shes a complainer) about stuff here like "oh the ward missionaries don't  do anything" or "the ward leaders do such and such", etc, and I'm like ha! I haven't had a ward mission leader in months! This really is an awesome area and I hope to help the work right along here.

2. Just an exciting note, the kid that we baptized last week, Selvin, is awesome and already went with the youth to the temple! Isn't that great! And his new calling is ward missionary. This ward is so ridiculously put together.

3.   Well in other news, my comp cut my hair this morning. My hair was so long and gross it was driving me insane!! And its hard to wash such long hair in the bucket showers.  I knew that there was no hope in it turning out good, but its way better and I'm happy about it. I always just wear it up anyways. Also I'm still a little sick, I don't know but I think I might have a stomach infection. But its not really affecting anything so we will see how I continue. 

4. Pdays in San Felipe are a little different than in my other areas, because there is nothing fast food or nothing really at all here, so us 6 hermanas cooked and I learned how to make "tostones" fried squashed green platanos, food that one hermana from Nicaragua, and also my comp from Ecuador, eat in their homes. I love learning about all the different countries and foods and everything.

OK well that's about all I got for the moment. I love being a missionary and I really love working hard, its very satisfying, We are trying to work hard and smart here and I am really hoping to finish up well here. I love the gospel and want to always work hard in the church. There is so much we can do to build the Lords kingdom. I know that the atonement is real and its how we can change and become better and more likeChrist.I love telling people about it because its whats going to change their whole lives for the better. 

Have great week everyone!
Hermana Gilland

Monday, September 17, 2012

I am in San Felipe and My Companion is from Ecuador

Hey everyone!!!

I hope things are great for yall! I had an exciting week!! Here are a few highlights:

1. CHANGES!!!!  I got changes and am now in my final area -- weird right? I’m in area Muluá, zona San Felipe. It’s like in the middle of Reu and Mazatenego, my other 2 areas, ha-ha. I’m in the Brillantes Ward and we share with a pair of elders. This ward is an AWESOME ward -- by far the best-organized I’ve ever seen here in Guatemala. Wow. This is my first full bishopric with bishop, 1st and 2nd counselors, and secretary. The ward mission leader is great and has really organized the ward-mission force -- we have lots of ward missionaries AND they go and teach and visit the investigators and recent converts, AND they actually do it! We had a meeting sat. night with the ward mission leader and all the ward missionaries and us 4 full time missionaries, and it ward really cool to have that "teamwork feel" with ward members and to hear the members excited to baptize and talking about our monthly baptism goals and such. I fee like Im on another planet here. There were even ward programs handed out in Sac. mgt. Ive never seen anything like this. Now I have no excuses...

My comp is Hna. Cuzco from Ecuador -- cool huh? That’s one cool thing about the mission is that you meet people from everywhere. I’m her "stepmom" or 2nd comp, she’s only got 3 months on the mish, but she’s super sweet and a great missionary and we are getting along great! 

Muluá is different from my other areas because it’s just a teensy little area. My whole mission I’ve been in big(ish) cities -- Reu has 2 stakes -- and now I’m in a spread out community that makes up one big ward. There really aren’t stores here, only for the most basics. But it’s a nice area, I’ve always loved the small-town feel. I like a lot of things about our house here, -- it’s a lot smaller than our last house, which I like, and very simple. Our "kitchen" is just a table with a small electric stove on top, a mini fridge, and of course the pila (the giant sink thing used for washing dishes, clothes, babies, dogs, etc.) One thing about our house that’s a little different is the water situation. Out in the boonies around here, the water is organized in such a way that it comes at different times for different parts of town. For us we only have running water from 11 pm to 8 am. Luckily, part of the function of the pila is to store several gallons of water, so it’s not really a big deal. But (and I say thins not complaining, just describing my afflicciones like Nephi always does), one of my very favorite, most enjoyable things to do my whole mission has been to come home after a long and sweaty day to a nice cold shower. Oh how I loved and took for granted the blessing of always having running water. And now I can’t. I still take a bucket shower at night, but it’s not the same, and not near as refreshing, and I’m not getting near as clean...Sigh. But oh well, we’ve got much more important things to worry about here. But oh how I miss my nightly shower. Also our toilet doesn’t flush without dumping water in, so that’s another pain. OH WELL!

2. I got SICK! Oh my poor comp. She’s very capable even though she’s new, but I have been ZERO help to her since I got here because I don’t know anyone of course, and of course, Saturday we have a baptism in the morning and an activity in the afternoon, and I wake up super sick from something I ate the day before, so I was throwing up, had diarrhea, fever,etc. Apart from the parasites I had back in January, this is the only other time I’ve gotten sick (which has got to be some kind of record around here by the way). So my comp basically did everything all by herself Sat. I went to the baptism, but like couldn’t even stand to sit straight in my chair, and then I went home to rest and a nice member stayed in the house with me, and then I went to the activity and just sat there and tried to at least appear friendly. Everyone in the ward who knows I was sick thinks I’m really delicate -- "oh the change in the food here" even though I’ve lived in Guatemala basically for forever. And those who didn’t know probably think I’m kind of rude...but agh whatever. Great first impression right?

It’s always funny to have changes because you have to start over and answer all the basic questions, one of them being "do you eat tortillas?" I mean, DUH I eat tortillas. That would be like asking a missionary in America if the like to drink something with their food. Tortillas are always present, and of course I eat them. Ha-ha these crazy people. 

I’m really excited to be in this ward because I’m going to learn A TON!! We apparently have lots of investigators.  I’m getting to know them right now. I’m excited and not feeling "baggy" or "trunky" at all, just wanting to work.  I really love being a missionary and testify that this is God’s work. I’m so grateful to be here. I love the gospel, and I know that it’s true and can bless everyone’s lives. My last area, Las Palmas, was really hard. But I learned so much and had such great experiences that I will never forget. I just love it. Have a great week all of you! 

Love, Hermana Gilland