Monday, January 30, 2012

Sunny California Returns!

It is good to hear from all of you this week! I love Mondays for that reason. :)
Well it is back to sunny California, for which I am very grateful! I love when the weather's nice. It makes it just a little better, although the work is always great! Today for our p-day activity we are going to be playing softball actually, which is going to be fun! Behind our ward building there is a baseball diamond, so we are going to take advantage of it. :)
This past week was wonderful! Let me tell you about Nancy! Nancy is the mother of Melody, who is a less-active in our ward. We met Nancy a couple of weeks ago, while we were visiting Melody. Nancy just moved in with Melody to help financially. So last Saturday we brought in a Book of Mormon while we were visiting and asked," Nancy, do you have a copy?" She replied, "No! But I was hoping that you would bring one! I was hinting last time!" We gladly gave her a Book of Mormon! Both of us didn't realize last time that she hinted to anything, but the Spirit helped us figure it out and remember to bring a copy inside. Then we asked if she wanted to start learning and she said of course! So, we taught her 3 times last week and she is soaking it all in! She always is saying, "I am hungry. This is exactly what I am looking for." When we teach her, it is just wonderful and she wants to go "all the way" she says. She is going to be baptized! We don't have a date yet because they are in the process of moving, but she really wants this in her life and it is wonderful.
The most amazing thing was the second time that we met with her. She hadn't said a prayer with us before because she was nervous about saying one in front of people. But we explained that it was just speaking with Heavenly Father and that she could do it. So she said a prayer! And she was crying by the end of it. (I don't cry too much on the mission, but I was tearing up too.) When she ended she told us she had never done that in her whole life. That was huge for her and it truly was a miracle!
Nancy is wonderful and we are so excited to be teaching her! :)
The other miracle experience was about prayer as well and a 9-year old boy named Alan. So we were over at Joyce and Savannah's home. (Savannah is the 11 year old that was baptized in December.) Savannah is friends with Alan and Aldo, 9 year old twins, and with Jasmine, Alan and Aldo's younger sister. Alan happened to be over when we were there visiting and as we shared a scripture with their family, his face lit up. We then started talking about prayer and he said, "I don't know how to pray." As missionaries, we were so excited because it is a perfect teaching opportunity! So we taught him how to pray! And then we asked if he wanted to say the prayer. He said he didn't feel ready, but we said what if Savannah helps you. He agreed! So Savannah helped him say a prayer! It was so amazing. Then,   Alan and Jasmine came to church yesterday! And we had another lesson at Joyce's home and Alan soaked it all in. He was so excited to get a Book of Mormon that after the lesson, he ran home and said, "I am going to go show my mom!" As he was running home he just kep yelling "bye!" and waving to us. It made our day. He even knows our names! (A lot of people remember Sister Jones, but not mine... But Alan was even saying my name too!) We are having Family Home Evening with Joyce, Savannah, Alan, Aldo (i think), and Jasmine tonight, so it should be another great night! 
As I just shared those two story, I was thinking about how blessed we are that we know how to pray! There are people who don't know how or don't feel comfortable praying. Growing up in the church, that is just something that we do. We pray a lot and we pray vocally. I wonder how many little boys like Alan don't know how to pray. I have known how since I was so little! That is one of the many reasons why we are out here. To help others come unto Christ, starting with teaching them how to pray. We are so blessed to know how to communicate with our Heavenly Father!
Another wonderful part of this week was a leadership meeting that I attended this past Thursday. We had two men from the MTC there to train us and we had a great training from President Smart. We learned more about the Doctrine of Christ, how to effectively follow up on failed commitments, and how to begin teaching. It was such a great training and I realized how much I need to work on my teaching! I have improved A LOT since I first got on my mission, but I still have a lot to improve on! It was a great meeting and I learned a lot! Sister Jones was on her own in the area for the day with a team-up and she did wonderfully! I know it was good for her to get out there and have to take the lead! It was a good day for both of us. :) 
Life is good in Highland, California! I love the work and we will see what happens this Saturday for transfer calls. :) I have been here for four and a half months, so we'll wait and see! 
I hope and pray that everyone is doing well! I love you all sooo much! The Church is true and we are so blessed to be a part of it! The gospel of Jesus Christ blesses our families so much! I love it! :)
Con Amor Siempre,
Sister Gretchen Schillemat
(You like my Spanish?)

Monday, January 23, 2012

It's Raining in California!

Hey Family!
It is true! It is raining today! It has been kind of dreary for the past couple of days and I can't say it is my favorite, but there must be opposition in all things... Hopefully the sun will come back soon! I am in a much better mood when the sun is shining. I bet Sister Jones wants it to be sunny just for that reason too! ;)
I actually am in a pretty good mood! Life is good as a missionary. There are always ups and downs, but that is how we learn and grow. We started the week with a couple of people on date for baptism, but we ended the week with no one. Commitments weren't being kept and people were preparing to make the covenant of baptism. We are hoping this week will have better results and then we will be able to have a day for many investigators to be baptized.
I went to my first ever (and probably only) Priesthood Leadership meeting yesterday! We had a broadcast stake conference yesterday, but the day started off with a meeting at 7:00 am. It was fun to be among the 5 women in the chapel full of men. I had never sang the two hymns that we sang yesterday because they were both for men only, but we had a good laugh! All the missionaries in the Redlands Stake went to the meeting because it was mostly on missionary work and the Ward Mission Process (WMP), which I am not sure if I have explained to you before. The WMP is pretty much that the ward has to help us teach 20 lessons a week by providing people us to teach. The ward is supposed to have 15 individuals/families that we can teach and then we are supposed to come up with the other 5 lessons. We haven't been having much trouble at all lately though and have been getting 18 lessons on our own in the past weeks. It would take me a while to fully explain the WMP, but the objective is to get the ward council and ward members more involved in missionary work and re-activation. The meeting was wonderful and was great for the ward leaders! I was glad that I could be there! (Even though I was certainly in the minority... ;) )
Stake Conference was very nice yesterday! We had a broadcast from Salt Lake and we were able to hear from Elder L. Tom Perry, Sister Thompson (RS 2nd Counselor), and Elder Johnson and Elder Snow from the Seventy. It was a very good conference. There was one talk on Family Prayer and the importance praying together. Thank you Mom and Dad for always having family prayer. There was a woman in my ward that said she thinks her family would have stayed together if they had had family prayer together every night. I know that it is true, "A family that prays together, stays together." :) Family Prayer is a blessing that we must always continue to have in our home. 
I am doing the training for our district meeting tomorrow, and I decided to do it on the Ensign message from this month, "A More Abundant Life", but rather have it be, "A More Abundant Mission". The words from the prophet apply to every aspect of life, but I just think it is perfect for us missionaries. He gives the ABCs to having an abundant and happy life (or mission). The A is for attitude. We must have a positive attitude or else our mission is going to be miserable. Even when appointments fall through or baptisms are postponed, we must remember to have a positive attitude. Read Doctrine and Covenants 68:6.  B is for Believe in yourself and others. This is soo ESSENTIAL for missionary work! If we don't believe that we can help others come unto Christ, then we are not going to be effective missionaries. If we don't have faith in our investigators, then we will be very ineffective in teaching them with power. The Spirit will not be able to be as strong without faith. I know that I had often lacked faith in certain people and that is so wrong! I need to have faith that all people can prepare to be baptized! Because they can. Through Christ, everything is possible. The C is for Courage. As missionaries, we need lots of courage. We need to be bold and be believing! I think I chose this talk because I needed to learn from it. But I know that these three things are the key to an abundant life and mission!
Miracle: Yesterday while tracting before we even asked a woman if we could come back she said, "Could I just give you my name and phone number and you could come back?" That never happens! ;) Tender mercy. :)
This week I have a day long leadership meeting in Riverside, so Sister Jones is going to be with a team-up all day. I am excited for the meeting and know that it will be a good day! I have A LOT to learn, so I am excited for the meeting. It is for all Zone Leaders, District Leaders, and trainers. Hermana Christensen, who is also in our apartment, is training right now too, so we will be going down together.  We are trying to get a lot of appointments for that day, so Sister Jones and Sister Wiggins (the team-up, a woman from our RS) won't have to do much tracting. :)
Life is good! Pray that the rain will go away! ;) Just kidding...we need it probably, but I do miss the sun!
I love you all and thank you for all your love and support. This a great work that we are all a part of. I am so glad that I am here in California and I am looking forward to other wonderful week with Sister Jones!
Now for little notes:
Dad, Thanks for the email! I love hearing from you and I hope you are doing well!
Mom, Keep up the great missionary work! Member missionaries are the best. :)
Kirstin, How's Lucy? I miss you all!
Poul, What classes are you taking this semester?
Andrea, How are the boys? I'm sure they are keeping you busy. :)
Jo, Thanks for the package again! I really love the socks!
Peder, Sister Jones and I pray for you and her brother, our fellow full-time missionaries, often. I hope you have another great week!
Geoff, How is seminary going? How is school?
I know that it is through Christ that we can endure all things. Remember Him often. Share your testimony often. That is the way that is grows. 
I love you all!
With Love (con amor), 
Sister Schillemat 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Another Wonderful Week

It was so good to hear from so many of you this week! I love you all so much and I am so glad to be a part of this wonderful family. We are so blessed!
Well this past week was really good. We had the Mbewe's at church for the first time on Sunday! I met the Mbewe's my first week in the mission field and we have been visiting with them ever since. They are a wonderful family, who orignially comes from Zambia. Moe, the mother, really liked church and said she wants to visit again. The two boys also came, and we think they liked it, but we are going to be talking with them soon to see more. :)
So the mission's Standard of Excellence is 1 baptism/month, 140 OYMs/week, 20 lessons/week, and 4 investigators at sacrament meeting. Except for the 1 baptism (which we are hoping will be happening next Saturday), we met the Standard of Excellence for the first time last week. It was only because Heavenly Father blessed us with people to talk to and we worked "stinkin'" hard! (That reminds me of Peder. :) ) We are going to have to continue to work really hard this week to reach that goal, but we know it is possible! "For with God nothing shall be impossible."- Luke 2:37
So one of the miracles of last week was a woman named Leslie. Sister Robinette and I had tracted into her in one of my first weeks, so Sister Jones had never met her. She had said we could come back, but everything kept falling through. So she went on our potentials list. Sister Jones and I have been trying to visit 5 to 8 potentials a week, so Leslie was on our list last week. We went once and she wasn't home. Then we just happened to be in the area, and stopped by again, and she was home! She said she had been praying that morning for someone to come, and then we knocked on the door. She was busy right then, but she really wanted us to come back soon. So we set up a time to meet with her that night and we came back and talked with her for 2 hours. It was a great lesson! It was a lot of question and answer, but we did explain the Restoration and invited her to read from the Book of Mormon. She siad she would read that night! It was just a miracle that we were in the right place and the right time and that she had been praying for us to come. I know that people are waiting for us to come and if we have the Spirit then we will be blessed with finding those people. :)
This morning I read President Uchtdorf's talk to the Relief Society, "Forget Me Not" and everything seemed to apply to me and I know that it can apply to everyone. First he said, "Forget not to be patient with yourself". You know me. I am not always the most patient with myself. I am still hard on myself on my mission, but I know that if I do my best, that is all that Heavenly Father asks. I know that last week, we worked really hard and Heavenly Father helped us reach our goals. I know that it is okay that we take small steps of improvement! "Our journey toward perfection is long, but we can find wonder and delight in even the tinest steps in that journey." Next he talks about not forgetting the difference between a good sacrifice and a foolish one. He said, "Our Heavenly Father is most pleased when we sacrifice something good for something far greater with an eternal perspective." I love that! I could be home getting an education and preparing for work, or doing a number of good things, but this is the "far greater" thing for me to do. :)
He says we must never forget to be HAPPY NOW! I can always work on that one! Forget not the "why" of the gospel and lastly he says, forget not that the Lord loves you! I know that the Lord loves me and that this is where I am supposed to be. I know that the why of the gospel is beacuse I love my Heavenly Father and my Savior. I know that I can and am happy now as I focus on other people's needs, not my own.
Commitment for this week: Read that talk! Let me know your thoughts. :) That talk gives me a better perspective for everything I am doing.
Thank you again for all you do! I love you all and pray you are doing well! This church is true and Jesus Christ lives. Peder and I are so blessed to be able to share this message full-time right now, but you can share it too! Keep praying for missionary opportunities. :)
I love you so much!
Sister Schillemat

Monday, January 9, 2012

Another week in the California Riverside Mission

Hello Family!
Well, first I want to say my prayers go out to Carol's family. My heart hurts when I hear about people passing away and how much they will be missed. We had a death in the ward of a 30 year old woman, and it is so sad. Carol will be well missed, and I hope that Ginger and Jamie are doing all right. Just like I talked about last week in my email, it is a wonderful thing that we know about the plan of salvation. We are so blessed to have that knowledge and to be able to share it with those around us. We are also so blessed as a family to have the blessings of the temple. As a missionary, I am often in homes where the families are not as fortunate. We have a amazing gift of an eternal family and that is the best way for any family to be.
This past week was another good week! We had 20 lessons and reached our goal of 8 member present lessons this past week. That was a miracle! We have never had that many, so we were extremely blessed!
We have two people preparing for baptism on January 28th. They both came to a baptism that was held of Saturday, so that was exciting! It was good for each of them to be able to see another person be baptized and to feel that wonderful spirit. Baptisms are so special!
(So here is a random tangent/commitment: So the baptism that we went to on Saturday was for the Highland 2nd ward, not the ward I am serving in. They had TONS of ward members at the baptism. For the last baptism that we had, it was very sparse and very disappointing how few people came. So, I want to extend the commitment to go to every convert baptism in our ward! Please! They need the support of the ward. I know that Keene ward is pretty good, but just a little reminder. :) )
I have talked about this before, but I love the priesthood! I love how willing men will do everything to fulfill their priesthood responsibilities. I was able to watch 3 blessings this weekend and it was a beautiful thing. The first two were given by the Elders serving in the Highland 2nd ward and they were just so willing to help and give those blessings. Peder, you are going to get that opportunity on your mission and people are going to be so grateful for your worthiness and willingness. The last blessing was given by Elder Hench to Joyce. Joyce has been struggling with a lot of things lately and we showed up to her crying. We came into her house and immediately called the Hench's, so that Elder Hench could give her a blessing. As Elder Hench gave that blessing, a change came over Joyce and the Spirit was back into the home. It was a beautiful blessing and Sister Hench said there were ministering angels in the room. It really did feel wonderful. I love the priesthood so much! I am so blessed to have a worthy father and brothers that can give blessings!
Life is wonderful as a missionary! I love Highland area and I love the people I serve and am serving with. I pray that you are all doing well! I love and miss you lots! But this is a great work!
I like what you said Poul, "if the work wasn't hard, it wouldn't be nearly as rewarding." This is a hard work, but a wonderful blessing! I know that is true!
Now for the weekly check-ins on the family:
Dad, how is work going? I haven't heard from you in a little while and I would love to hear how things are going!
Mom, how are you doing? How has work been?
Kirstin, Are you teaching again? How is that going? How's Luce?
Poul, Are you taking classes this semester?
Andrea, How are the boys? I miss them! :)
Jo, You are back safe! That is great! I hope everything is going well! Keep me posted on how you're doing. :)
Peder, You are amazing! How's the MTC treating you? Have you had the chicken cordin bleu (I don't know how it is spelled!)? That was my favorite in the MTC. :)
Geoff, How is school going? Not a lot of snow days this year with no snow, right?
Well, I love you all so much! You are all wonderful and the church is true. We are all so blessed to be members of the Church of Jesus Christ.
Love you,
Sister Schillemat

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Another Year-2012!

Happy New Year! I can't believe that it is already 2012. Time goes very fast and I can't believe it. New Year's Eve we had a zone activity with some volleyball and food and then we headed back to our apartment to relax a little. We weren't allowed to be out past 6:00 pm, so it was a good night for relaxing.
So this past week was a productive week for our companionship. We taught 23 lessons, which was the most I have ever taught in one week. It was great! Plus we had 5 member present lessons, 5 lessons without a member present, and 6 Recent Convert/Less Active Lessons. Those were the highest numbers for us in a long time (or ever!). We also had 145 OYM's (Open Your Mouths), so it was good!
It is kind of frustrating this week because it is looking pretty sparse for lessons, but we will do our best. I know that we had all of those lessons and OYMs because of Heavenly Father. "With God, nothing is impossible." Luke 1:22
We have this new investigator, named Angela. She was a referral from some Elders serving in Colton (close to Highland, but I don't know exactly where it is...). She met with us last week and is came to church on Sunday. She has such a strong desire to learn, which is wonderful! We are excited to see her continue to progress in the gospel. :)
I want to tell you a little about the last lesson of the week. We met with Sister Trujillo, a less active woman. She had three of her grandchildren at her house that night but before we had a lesson with all of them, we just talked with Sister Trujillo. She lost her son, Alex, and grandson, Adrain, almost 18 months ago beacuse they were murdered. We had heard bits and pieces about what happened, but she explained more of the story with us on Sunday. Then we started talking about the Plan of Salvation. Sister Trujillo knows that the only way that she was able to get through that trial was becuase of the knowledge of the gospel. She could and still does find so much comfort in the Plan of Salvation. We talked about how many people would benefit from the knowledge that we have. People would find so much comfort and peace from that knowledge. Plus, it gives everyone the perspective to continue doing what is right, no matter what happens. Because of what happened, Sister Trujillo is now the guardian of Ethan, the brother of Adrian and son of Alex. Roxanne, Ethan's mom, is not making good choices, so Ethan can't live with her. My heart goes out for Ethan. He is only 6 and he was there when his dad and brother were killed. Ethan now doesn't have his best friend (Adrian) or his dad. But the good thing is Ethan is living with a loving and kind grandmother who knows the Plan of Salvation. With time, Ethan will come to know more about the gospel and be baptized himself and find comfort and strength. He will be a strong person because he knows the wonderful plan God has for him and he will know that there is a reason that he is still here on earth. There is a reason for every one of us. I know that is true. I know that with the Savior's Atonement we can overcome anything that we are going through and do His will for us. I know that I am supposed to be here in California and there are people for me to meet while I am here. I know that this is part of God's plan for me. 
On a more uplifting note, we went to the temple last week! I love the Redlands Temple and it was what I needed. :)  I love going to the house of the Lord and being able to renew covenants with my Heavenly Father. I know that the temple is a place of revelation and peace. I felt a strong spirit as soon as I walked into the temple and I am so grateful for the opportunity to go. 
Life is good here is California! I love the people and the area and I am learning lots! I know that as I continue to work hard that I will learn what Heavenly Father wants me to. :)
Scripture time: 
3 Nephi 14:7-11 
"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seekest, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened.
Or what man is there of you, who, if his son ask bread, will give him a stone?
Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?"
Heavenly Father will always give us good gifts, but we have to ASK him. We have to pray for us to receive some of our blessings that Heavenly Father is waiting to give us. I love how Jesus Christ relates to parents in this scripture and says, "If you, being imperfect, know how to give her children good gifts, how much more will Heavenly Father, who is perfect, give us, his children, good gifts, IF we ask?" I know that we need to ask and the windows of Heaven will be opened as we will receive blessings! Always remember to PRAY DAILY! Your Father in Heaven wants to hear from you. :)
Well, I love you all! I know that Jesus Christ lives. I know that the Book of Mormon is true and that Joseph Smith was a prophet. I know that through Jesus Christ's Atonement, we can overcome anything that we are going through. I know that our family is so blessed because we are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Love you! Keep up the great missionary work Mom! Have a wonderful last couple of days in New England, Kirstin, Andrea, Roland, and Jimmy, and kids. :) Jo, Travel Safe! Poul, keep working hard! Geoff, enjoy going back to school! Peder, love you missionary brother! :) And Dad, hope all is well with work!
Much Love,
Sister Gretchen Schillemat 

ps: How is family scripture study?