Beautiful Guatemala

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

Monday, April 30, 2012

Battling Wild Dogs With Our Umbrellas


I hope that things are going great in America. Things are going well here in Guate. We are still teaching some great people and had lots of really great experiences this week. Here is what we did:

1. Marcela and kids preparing for baptism!  I can never remember what I wrote the week before, but 2 weeks ago we found a lady named Marcela. Shes 26 and has 5 kids, the oldest is 11 and the youngest 6 months. Well, they are just super awesome and she and the 2 oldest kids are preparing to be baptized on the 12Th of this month! They are just really special, the kids are super well-behaved and love being at church. This Sunday, even though Marcela and one of the kids were sick and throwing up, they made it to the first hour of church! What faith they have! The members are all getting excited for their baptism too. Well see this week what Satan's got because I'm sure he'll be fighting against this. But these guys are super prepared, and I'm so excited to watch the Gospel of Jesus Christ change their lives so much!

2. Mildrid is progressing slowly but surely! Well I'm pretty sure Ive mentioned Mildrid before. We've been teaching her for over a month. She is SUPER Evangelica, and so its been hard. She didn't go to church last week and we saw in the week the results that that took. We had an appointment with her one evening, just like always, but this night was different. She lives down a little alley that is usually lit and full of kids playing, but this night, there was no one, it was dark and creepy. And when we got up to her house, a bunch of dogs attacked us and we had to battle them off with our umbrellas! It was like Satan himself was trying to stand guard, unsuccessfully. When we finally got in with her, she sweetly welcomed us but started to tell us that she didn't want to do this anymore, that she just thought all churches were the same, she had been praying and wanted a big sign and wasn't satisfied with the small spiritual experiences shed had. So we had to battle Satan's influence some more! We really tried hard to testify powerfully and help her to understand the necessity of a restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and in the end she said shed keep trying and that she would go to church with us one more time, to be sure of her decision. OK. Well, fast-forward to Sunday morning, we go by early to make sure that shes OK with a member passing by for her later, and she starts to tell us again that shes sorry but that she doesn't want to do this anymore. Well, she has her agency right, and there is no point in just whining or guilting people into doing what you want. So I was ready to drop her, even though it was breaking my heart, and we testified of what we had taught and shared a scripture to finish. Well, she then said that she wanted to keep reading the Book of Mormon and praying, and I challenged her to go to church with us that morning too, but to definitely not do it just for my companion and I, and she was hesitant but agreed, but said that she would meet us there on her own, that we didn't need to pass by for her. Well, normally that means that they're not coming. Pretty much always. Especially after the last two meetings we had with her. So I was sad and just figured we wouldn't be seeing her for a while...but guess what SHE CAME! She came by herself! Because she really wants to know if our message is true! And she had a nice time at church, and we have an apt with her on Tuesday to see how shes feeling now. I know we aren't in the clear with her, but that was a big step of faith that she took, and I know that the Lord knows and with bless her. So we are REALLY hopeful about Mildrid! And we are really grateful that the Spirit helped us to testify with power, to at least make her want to know if what we are saying is true. 

3. Fasting with Family Milian: Ive talked about these guys a lot, and they are so cool. Their only challenge though is the fact that he studies for free on Sundays. And so we had a special fast, them and us, fasting that Luis would have the courage to talk to his bosses, use the right words, and that their hearts would be softened. And we still don't know the results of his meeting with his bosses, but all 4 of us just had a wonderful fasting experience. They didn't know anything about fasting of course, but when we asked how they had felt, they both said they just felt really peaceful, something really special. Ahh they're so great! I just know were going to see a miracle with them. Every time we meet with them they talk about how they want to get baptized, without us even mentioning it. They really are special and I'm hoping to be able to write next week that they'll be getting baptized on the 12Th too!

These last two things are just funny little things:
4. Marcela's baby peed all over me. Lovely. Heck, It didn't even bother me. But its funny!
5. I held a scorpion! Agh! Gross!

That was our week here! There were other great things that happened, but those were my favorites. During our fast I reflected a bit on how grateful I am to be here on a mission, for all the millions of things I'm learning, the people I'm meeting, everything. I celebrated my 10 month mark yesterday and it freaked me out. But I'm really grateful for this time, and for my Savior Jesus Christ, and all that I'm learning about Him. Thank you all for your support and have a great week!!

Love, Hermana Gilland

Monday, April 23, 2012

Conference With Elder Garavet

Hey everyone!

As usual I hope everything is going well with everyone. I'm pretty sure Lindsey and Davey got married a few days ago...weird...and WHY did no one send me pictures?! Send me pics pronto. Anyways, we are doing really well here inReu and are getting lots done. Here's what we did:

1. 13 positive investigators right now!  So this Sunday we had 5 investigators at church today, so we were pleased. But what were really excited about is that we have a truckload of interested people that we are teaching! We don't know why, but the Lord just keeps digging up more interested people for us to teach. We are so happy and excited to keep working. We know that we really have to be good about using our time wisely and going the extra mile in everything. We still haveFamily Milian, and they couldn't come to church because he has classes on Sundays, but he has gotten permission to go to church like every other Sunday starting in a few weeks, so we are SUPER excited about them. They are talking about getting baptized and want to do it, so in just a few weeks they should be baptized. Oh I cant wait!! We have various other people who are all pretty positive, I cant write about them all. But we are just seeing miracles all the time. 

2. Conference with Elder Garavet.  We had a special conference with a General Authority, Elder Garavet, from Uruguay. It was really great, I really enjoy receiving instruction from such amazing people. He really made us want to work harder and get more done, use our time better. 

3. Service Projects!  We had lots of opportunities to do service this week! One of them was helping Family Milian clean out their backyard, which was full of old leaves and trash. We worked with the Elders and had a good time, and I was brought back to times working in my own backyard back in the day. 

4. Miracle of the week: Yesterday we saw another nice little miracle :) Hermana Crooks, an hermana in the zone who used to be in our area, told us to hunt down one of her old investigators that almost got baptized but never did. So that'swhat we did. We had some time on Sunday, so we went and asked around until we found her, and when we found her, she had clearly been crying. So we talked to her and helped her to feel better, and then asked what happened when she almost got baptized. She told us what had happened and that she still wanted to get baptized, and we taught her a little bit and set a goal date for her baptism! We are so happy to have found her and that Hermana Crooks told us to look for her. The lady, Sonia, is so grateful that we found her. Ahh. Awesome.

I know that this is the work of the Lord, and it is awesome. I really am enjoying being a missionary and learning so much here. I know that this is the true church. I know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is here on the Earth and can help EVERYONE!!! 

Have a great week and thanks for all the support!!

Love, Hermana Gilland

Monday, April 16, 2012

Update on the Family Milian

Hey everyone!!

So this week was pretty great! We are so excited because we had 4 people in church!!! Here is what we did this week:

1. 4 Investigators in church!!!  The 4 people we had were the wife of the family I mentioned last week, a guy named Carlos who came to conference a few weeks ago, and a lady named Mildrid and her daughter. We were really excited. We had a whole lot, like 12ish, people who were "maybe" going to come but who weren't like super positive, but all the ones we were really hoping for came.  They are all really special people and we are hoping to put some baptismal dates this week. 

2. Hermana Mildrid!  We have been teaching this lady for a few weeks, and sometimes her 2 daughters. She is just a really special lady. Another missionary met her at her work and gave us her phone number. She is really Evangelica, but we are seeing miracles with her. We always have really spiritual lessons with her, and last week, we went and talked a lot about how important it is to get an answer to the question "which church is the true church?" We ended our lesson and asked which one of us she wanted to pray, since she had said the opening prayer, but she said that she wanted to pray and said such a sweet prayer, pleading with the Lord for an answer to the question. After the prayer, we just sat in silence for a few moments, and then a wonderful feeling came over her, and she just told us how great she felt. And we asked her if she wanted to feel that feeling always, and she said yes, and we explained to her how she could, through baptism. She is just so sweet and we are so happy that she went to church. She is a really really special lady and the Lord loves her so much! Ahh what a privilege to know people like her. 
3. Update on the Family Milián:  Well, the wife went to church on Sunday with her little son. They are a really special family, and its just been really rough for them because they have been having really hard financial times. The husband had to work. We tried really hard to teach about the power of obedience and the importance of going to church on Sunday, but hes not quite there yet. The wife wanted to go to church but on Sunday morning was really worried about their financial troubles and wanted to go look for solutions instead of going to church, but we told her that shed be able to find help at the church and that shed feel better if she came with us, and so she did, and she talked to one of the members who is a doctor, about her kid who is sick, and then the bishop talked to her for a long time and is going to help her find a job. So she was so happy that she came with us, and we are excited to help them change their lives and hopefully get baptized in a few weeks. 

So that's pretty much what we've got going on these days here. Things are really looking up, we have lots of great people we are working with. I hope that y'all all have a great week and thank you all so much for your support!

Love, Hermana Gilland

Monday, April 9, 2012

We did it all - had a baptism, found some families, and read the entire BOM!

Happy Easter everyone!!

I hope that y'alls Easter weekends were great. We had an awesome week and saw lots of miracles! Wow! This week was "Holy Week", or "Semana Santa", the biggest holiday week of the year, and so we weren't allowed to leave and work Thursday thru Saturday. But despite that we had a very successful week and are so grateful to Heavenly Father.

1.  So, remember that I said last week that y'all should expect to hear about a beautiful family that we would be teaching this week? Well the Lord found them for us! The biggest miracle is familia Milian. I'm still just blown away. They're a really young, cute couple with a little baby boy, and we just contacted them in a tuk tuk (the little tiny taxis we get around in), the dad is a tuk tuk driver and the mom and kid were riding with him. We contacted them right before Semana Santa and knew that we wouldn't be able to have a lesson with them all week, so we went out on a limb a little bit and invited them to church that Sunday. Shockingly they seemed interested, and we got their info and said wed call them Saturday to make sure they could still come. Maybe I'm just a big doubter, but let me tell you, it NEVER happens that you contact a WHOLE FAMILY, invite them to church without even really talking to them, they actually seem interested, and then that ACTUALLY GO, OK, that never ever happens...but it happened!!! We called Saturday and the husband was happy and said that they were planning on going. I was still very doubtful, whats the catch with these guys? We went and picked them up Sunday morning and they were getting ready to go, the mom wore a cute skirt and the dad wore a nice polo and his nice shoes, and they were just so adorable. And then we all went to church together! It was so awesome -- 100% pure miracle. They liked church and say that they want to come next week. Were going with them tonight and are so excited to challenge them to get baptized! Agh! I cant even explain how excited and shocked I am. Wow! We are sooooo happy! So that was our first family this week :)

2. The 2ND family we found, familia Maldonaldo, is really awesome too.  They're also a young couple with 2 young boys, and they're super cute. We just randomly contacted them and had a lesson with them on Tuesday and we talked about eternal families and baptism, and they're pretty interested. They couldn't go to church because they went out of town for the holiday weekend, so we are hopeful that next week they'll come with us. HnaSchroeder and I have been praying and hunting so hard for families, and we are so completely grateful for the 2 beautiful families that we were able to find this week, even though we only could work 2 days of the week because of Semana Santa. Just some huge giant miracles!!

3. Another super awesome thing that happened this week was Gerardo's baptism!  (See picture below)  I'm sure I've already written about him, but he is this young man who was already baptized a few years ago but never confirmed because he never returned to the church, so he had to be baptized again. Even though hes only 17 he is really great. In his baptismal interview he asked the Elder how he could start preparing to go on a mission! Cool right! He is just an exceptional kid and we were really blessed to have had a chance to work with him. It was also exciting because it was my comps first baptism! So it was special. The service went surprisingly smooth and he was successfully confirmed on Sunday. Yay!

4. So wanna know what we did during Semana Santa when we weren't allowed to work? As a zone (there are 18 of us in the zone), we read the ENTIRE Book of Mormon out loud! Agh! We did it in about 27 hours spread out over 2.5 days. I'm not going to lie to y'all, I didn't really enjoy myself. It was kind of like torture ha-ha. The entire mission did it actually, we were competing for some prize, I don't even know what. Ha-ha gosh. I mean, its kind of cool to say that we did that. And my understanding of the Book of Mormon chronology is much better. And I found lots of things I want to go back and study later. But I'm definitely never doing that again, ever. Yikes. 

So that was pretty much our week. We did it all.......... had a baptism, found some families, and read the entire Book of Mormon. We are really seeing the Lord working miracles in our area right now. Obviously Heavenly Father really wants these families to find the truth, and we only hope and pray that we can be sufficient instruments in His hands right now with them. The 2 families and some others that we are working with right now are super special. We are so grateful for what we have right now. I just know that this is Gods work. There's no way that its not. Experiences like these are when the difficult times totally pay off, its all totally worth it. I love being a missionary and I am learning soooo much. I love the Gospel and I know that it is true. I know that we have the one true church of Jesus Christ on the earth today, and that everyone should hear about it! Everyone needs to be a part of the true church. Thank you all again for your support and prayers, we cant do much without them. Have a fantastic week!!!

Love, Hermana Gilland

Monday, April 2, 2012

I am Training Hermana Shroeder

Hello family and friends,

I hope y'all had a wonderful conference weekend! We have had a great week, and here's what happened:

1. Its a girl!  My comp had changes and now I'm training Hermana Shroeder from Orem Utah! She is super cool. Shes reeeaaallyy tall ha-ha, like 5'10''! Shes blond and white and has colored eyes, so we've been getting in with a lot of young men lately...hmm.. Hermana Shroeder is brand new out of the CCM but shes been super willing to just jump right in here, and shes full of energy. I love being her comp! Its been really fun to introduce her to the insanity that is this culture, and to fondly remember my first weeks and my "mom" Hermana Stevens. 

2. Conference!!! Ahh wasn't conference great!? I got so much out of it and now have a long list of things to study/improve. They talked so much about families and children, and I was relating all of it to teaching my investigators. I just loved it. We were a little bit bummed because we had LOTS of potential people who were going to come, but in the end we only had one. Dang, but that's how it goes. This week is "Semana Santa" or "Holy Week", and so everything is going to be a little bit more difficult.

3. The one guy who did come, Carlos, is super positive. He says he wants to be my comp's first baptism - SWEET! We wont tell him that we'vealready got another baptism for this coming Saturday (that young man, Gerardo, from the rat house). We are excited about the people who were teaching, and right now we are really looking for a family. We've been chasing down people with kids and have contacted several families, andsomebody's gotta be positive, right? We hope so! So plan on hearing about a beautiful new family next week :)

4. This week there were lots of funny little cultural experiences for my comp, because seriously this place has nothing at all in common with America. It is a lot to take in. My favorite cultural experience this week is when we went to visit my recent convert, Blanca, in the hospital. 2 Evangelicos had gotten to her wheelchair first, and were preaching to her. We stood by, waiting, and they asked us if we had accepted Jesus Christ yet. We have. Then they started doing a big, loud, crazy evangelica prayer for Blanca. This involves both of them yelling their own separate prayers at the same time, with really eloquent words, calling the attention of everyone around in the hospital. This one got extra fancy (probably to try to show us up) and the lady evangelica even put her hands on Blanca's head and was praying, healing her I'm assuming. Oh dear. We just tried to back away and look like we weren't participating. Its was hard not to laugh a little bit because they're just so crazy. And it was interesting to compare that with what we did afterwords, after they had left -- a hymn, a very simple prayer by my new comp, and a scripture. I seriously felt the spirit come back, and it was nice and refreshing. The Lord doesn't need fancy words or loud attention-calling prayer-healing. We can invite the Spirit with simple, quiet words and a humble heart. Thank goodness we don't have to have fancy words, because me and my new companion don't at all. But we have the truth and we'vegot the Lord on our side. We are trying to trust in Him and we are seeing little miracles. I just know with all my heart that we are teaching the truth. I have a testimony in the Lord's Plan of Redemption for families. That's why we are hunting so hard for a family right now! I know that we can do it, with so much help from our Heavenly Father. I know that Christ lives and that he runs his church through a living prophet and apostles. I know that what we heard at conference is all true, and that if we apply those lessons, we will be blessed, we will be better able to use the Atonement in our lives and to Change. I love the Gospel with all my heart. And I really love being a missionary -- its really fun :)  

I hope y'all have an awesome week. I pray for so many of you daily. And I can feel your prayers all the way out here. Have a good week and a Happy Easter!!!

Love, Hermana Gilland