Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Gretchen's Birthday Week--Ups and Downs, but Mostly Ups


We had a baptism this past week on Caitlyn's birthday, Feb 25th! It
was for Kaylyn, a wonderful woman, who has such a great heart. She
said after she was baptized that she felt different and then the next
day after she was confirmed she said she felt new! It was an amazing
baptism that went so well. There was such a beautiful spirit there. I
loved it!

This morning my zone also threw me a suprise birthday party! I had NO
CLUE! Sister Birrell and Hermana Christensen have been scheming all
week and I didn't know it! I can't believe that I never knew! There
were lots of clues that I thought of after the fact, but I had no clue
before hand! :) We also played Ultimate Frisbee for the zone activity,
so it was a great day! I have such an amazing companion! And Hermanas
that I live with! I am soo blessed! My zone was so great as well!
There were hats and balloons and lots of good stuff! It has been such
a great day soo far!

I love the gospel of Jesus Christ so much! I am learning so much on my
mission and I love the miracles that I am seeing every day! Sister
Birrell is a miracle to me as well! She is so wonderful to work with.
(She is also sooo much like Amber, it is not even funny!) Missionary
work is hard, but I love it. It feels so much more natural now than it
used to. At the beginning of my mission, I would wake up in the
morning and think, "oh yeah, I'm a missionary. I forgot." But now it
would be very different to wake up and not get ready and put on a
nametag. I am really coming to love it more than I used to. I think I
have always loved working with so many wonderful people, but I really
love the life as a missionary now. It is so different from anything
else I have ever done, but I just love it! And 5 and a half months
have already gone by. This morning I woke up and for some reason was
thinking about the MTC and how long ago that seems...But yet I don't
feel like I have been out for 5 months. Sorry, I think I am just
rambling, but I love being a missionary!

Thank you all for your miracles! I know that they happen all the time,
if we are just looking for them. This week we ended up meeting some
people because an appt fell through! That is a miracle! (I think I
already told you that one...) Kaylyn getting baptized was a miracle!
When I wake up smiling and happy, that is a miracle!

So Sister Birrell truly is amazing! We just start laughing at random
things and that is what makes it the best. Yesterday we had a VERY
rough day with investigators at church. We had 0... I think that was
the first week I ever had no investigators at church. But we still got
a good laugh at it though when we remember that we had set a goal of
10 investigators at sacrament meeting. :) There were a lot of people
that we knew should be at church, so we were reaching high! But we
certainly laughed hard yesterday when we realized that we had 0 and
our goal had been so high. Such is life though!

I realized this past week that Satan really does try to attack us
right after we have a really good experience. It was right after
Kaylyn's baptism, which had been amazing, that I just got really tired
and grumpy! I felt myself getting frustrated with myself and just
being in a bad mood. It dawned on my the lesson that I needed to
learn. Satan really does attack after we have had a spiritually
uplifting experience. He wants you to get frustrated and disappointed.
But there isno point to that! We need to just try our best and do
all we can. And Heavenly Father will bless us sooo much!

Sorry for the really rambled email! It was all over the place! But I
love you so much and appreciate all the birthday wishes! Love you! The
Church is true. :)

Sister Gretchen Schillemat

Monday, February 27, 2012

Gretchen's Thoughts on Missionary work


Good job on being an amazing missionary! Keep me posted on what
happens with that! The Book of Mormon can change lives, so just keep
being that amazing example and he'll feel the truthfulness of the
Book. Just as you said, if he keeps reading with an open heart, he
will feel the Spirit. Have an open heart is SO crucial. Some people
tell us that they have read The Book of Mormon and they "know" it isnt
true, but they just don't have an opening heart and a sincere desire.

Keep working hard Mama!

Also, I told you the yoga pants were GAP, but they are actually OLD
NAVY. Sorry!

Last thing, I am giving a talk for another baptism on March 10 and I
was wondering if you could ask Aunt Catharine or Uncle Jon about the
talk they gave about the Holy Ghost. I still remember them giving it
and talking about the comforter. I really loved that talk, so it you
could talk to them and write down a couple notes and send them to me,
that would be wonderful! Thanks Mama!

I love you Mama!
You are amazing!

Sister Gretchen Schillemat

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Miracles and Opportunities

Thank you all for the wonderful emails! I really loved the pictures, Andrea! I have some cute nephews! :)
This past week truly was a week of miracles! We had sooo many, but I am just going to tell about two of them for now.
The first one happened in an apartment complex that we are often at because we teach quite a few people there. We were walking around the complex trying to find people to teach because we were a little early to an appointment. As we were walking around, we passed this lady on the phone twice and both times we didn't want to interrupt her, but everytime we passed I would say, "Oh man. She's on the phone!" Then we went to our appt, which ended up falling through, and we were walking back to our car. This time we passed this lady a third time. We decided that we couldn't not talk to her this time, even if she was on the phone. So, we decided to go talk to her. We were walking behind her, trying to catch up. We got pretty close to her and I said, "Mam, can we give you our card?" As we handed it to her, we could tell she was upset. I then asked if she was all right and she shook her head and started to cry. I then just gave her a hug and she cried into my shoulder. We asked her if we could come back and talk to her tomorrow since she was still on the phone and she agreed. It truly was a miracle. Although we hadn't talked to her the first two times, Heavenly Father put her in our paths, so we would be smart enough to talk to her the third time. Heavenly Father knew that she needed us to talk to us. She just needed someone to be there. It was a quick correspondence, but I know that we needed to talk to her. We have stopped in since and she hasn't been home, but maybe all she needed for now was that hug. We planted the seed and we will see what happens. :)
The second one is about a group of teenagers and a old yellow ford truck. :)
On Sunday it has been a particularly stressful Sunday with lots of phone calls and just a lot going on. Appointments were cancelling and Heavenly Father knew that Sister Birrell and Sister Schillemat needed a pick-me-up. :) We decided to head to the Campanas, a family in our ward to visit them. We were parked in their driveway, when we saw across the street a large group of teenagers. We need to talk to everyone, so we decided that we would talk to them before we go to Campanas. So we drove across the busy street and parked on a side road. As we got out of our car, we passed a family in their driveway. Normally we would talk to them right away, but we knew that the teenagers might not be there for long. So we just said Hi to the family and went to the group. Well, the teenagers were walking away but two of them responded to us and talked to us for a little while. After giving them our card and inviting them to church, we headed back to our car. As we passed the family this time, three of them were pushing an old yellow ford truck up their driveway. The truck was barely moving, so we dropped our stuff and ran up to push. As we touched the truck, it began to move easily. Heavenly Father sent angels to help us push that truck. It just rolled up the driveway, smoothly into the garage. Then we were able to talk with the family for a little bit and invite them to church. It was exactly what I needed! I realized how everything happened exactly at the right time. If we had talked to the family first, we would have missed the teenagers. If we had talked to the family first, we would have missed that service opportunity. It was perfect! Heavenly Father provided us with another miracle! We are so blessed. I know that miracles happen all the time, but we just have to be willing to look for them.
Oh yeah! We just had another one this morning. We went to talk to a guy named Angel. He ended up not being home, but then there was another guy walking into the neighbor's house. So we talked to him. He wasn't very interested, but he got his friend from inside. We ended up talking with him for a while, gave him a Book of Mormon, and have another appointment for tomorrow! Even though Angel wasn't home, we were in the right place and the right time to talk with the guy next door! Miracle! :) Then we talked to another two guys close by and they gave us a referral! Heavenly Father is blessing us so much!
I love being a missionary! I love serving with my wonderful companions! Sister Birrell is always looking for the miracles and pointing out even the smallest miracles. It reminds me to always be looking for the tender mercies of the Lord that happen to us every day.
So, what is your miracle of the week? I want to hear all about it!
Happiest Valentine's Day to you all! I know it is a little belated, but I love you sooo much! I actually had the best Valentine's day ever! Mama, I loved your Valentine and the card was wonderful! It meant so much to have that card. Thank you Mama! Then I got the letter from Geoff last week and it made me cry. It was so good to hear from you Geoff! Thank you so much Geoffrey! Also, Sister Badten sent me a very sweet gift! Thank you all soo much for your support and love. It means so much to me to have a loving family supporting me and praying for me. (I need lots of prayers!)
Life as a missionary is great! Time is going fast and I have another birthday already! How can I already be 22? This morning my zone leaders called to wish me a happy birthday because they have a binder that says today is my birthday. It was really funny because they sang the whole thing and then I asked, "Did you know my birthday is next Tuesday?" They thought it was today and we all had a good laugh! It started our day off well. :) (I asked if they'd sing again on Tuesday and they said they would. :) Plus, Elder Watson will play his guitar. :) )
Have a wonderful week! I love you all so much and can't wait to hear from you soon! Love you lots,
Sister Gretchen Schillemat

Monday, February 13, 2012

Gretchen's New Companion From New England

Hello Family!
So my new companion is Sister Birrell from....MASSACHUSETTS! Isn't that crazy?! What are the changes that there are two of us together from New England? She is from Lenox, Massachusetts, which I wasn't too familiar with, but she is in the Springfield Stake. She went to BYU before her mission as well, but she is a New England girl through and through. She actually is SO much like Amber, it is not even funny! Even though I am not serving with Amber, it is like I get a chance too! She looks like her (kind of) and has the same mannerisms and styles. It makes it so much fun! It has been a great first week together. She is a hard worker and loves the people so much. She is a spiritual giant, and she is teaching me so much! She doesn't need much training at all! Sister Birrell is truly a wonderful missionary already, and I love serving with her.
So this past week was a great week! We decided to always be looking for miracles, and we found a lot! Yesterday at church we had Mark Trczinski, a recent convert, bless the sacrament for the first time. That was really amazing to see. :) Church was wonderful yesterday! Many miracles.
1. Mark was the first one! It was great to see him using his priesthood to bless the ward.
2. So, we have church in a weird order because we are partly combined with Highland 2nd. We have Sunday School, RS, and then Sacrament. We met with a couple on Saturday and committed them to baptism. We were really hopeful that they would both be at church. They still hadn't shown up during RS and Priesthood and I was just praying that they would be here for sacrament, and as we are sitting down for sacrament, I see them sitting in the back! It truly was a miracle to have them both there, and we were so excited for their progress.
3. Nicholas, Savannah's older brother, has been pretty against the church lately, but he came to church yesterday! That was huge!
4. We had 5 investigators total in sacrament meeting!
It truly was a great week. Sister Birrell works so hard, and everyone loves her so much!
Funny story for the week:
So we went to this couples' home for a lesson. Anthony and Sharon. Sharon is an interesting woman, with LOTS of jewelry. Like 4 to 5 rings on each finger, 4 inch earrings, and lots of piercing. She also is very dramatic, and is just an interesting woman. Entering their home, it was an overwhelming smell of smoke and lots of clutter. Just a very interesting couple. We were having the lesson and Sharon was really having a hard time. She was very emotional. We asked her to say the closing prayer and she said a beautiful one. But after the prayer she immediately jumps up and says, pointing at Sister Birrell, "I have something for you!" She runs into her room and we can see her searching in her stuff, We both were getting a little nervous. She then comes out with something in her hand, and says to Anthony, "Can I walk them out?" Anthony agrees and we start walking to the car. We reach out car and Sharon say, "I have something for you," again pointing at Sister Birrell. (I was like, "What about me?" ;) ) Sharon reveals a HUGE ring with a pink stone surrounded by fake diamonds, to which she says, "It's real." Then she starts pointing at Sister Birrell's hand where she has a ring. Then she says, "I want that one..." Sister Birrell had a blue ring from her dad on her finger and Sharon didn't really want to give Sister Birrell anything, she just wanted to trade! Sister Birrell didn't know what to do, but hesitantly, she switched rings. I tried to tell Sharon that that ring meant a lot to Sister Birrell, but Sharon really wanted it. We got in the car and both thought, "Did that really just happen?" Sharon just manipulated her way into getting a new ring!
Sharon then came to church on Sunday and Sister Birrell wore the pink one, in hope of switching back. Well after talking with Sharon, Sister Birrell got her blue one back, but Sharon wanted another one that she had, so she gave that one up instead! It was crazy! But we are trying to figure out how we will get ALL Sister Birrell's jewelry back soon... Next time we meet with them though, we are both not wearing any jewelry! 
Then, I found 5 dollars... (That was an awful story sorry...it was much funnier in person and if you have met Sharon, but just take my word for it.)
Well, it really was a great week! We had a wonderful lesson with Maria and Walter, a couple that we have been teaching for awhile. We got them on date for baptism next month, which was very exciting! They just need to get married...or...separate...We won't know what they are going to do, but they know what they have to do for baptism!
All is well in Riverside! I can't believe that Peder leaves tomorrow! It will be my 5 month mark tomorrow and his 2 month mark! Time is going fast. :)
HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY! I love you all!
Yesterday I spoke to the Young Women about how I have found joy and happiness in my life and I said,
1. I know that we are happy when we keep the commandments. (Mosiah 2:41)
2. I find joy when I work hard. I know that I will not be satisfied if I don't work hard! (Thank you Mom and Dad! You taught us how to work hard and I am so grateful!)
3. I have to find my purpose or focus for each time in my life. Right now it is service. Before my mission it was education. After my mission, who knows? ;)
It was great to be back in YWs for a little while. :)
The church is true. Jesus Christ lives. The Book of Mormon is another testament of Christ. Joseph Smith was a true prophet. I know that this gospel brings joy and happiness!
I love you all so much! Have a great week!
Sister Gretchen Schillemat

Friday, February 10, 2012

Transfer 4: Unexpected Change!

Hello Family!
Well, transfer calls provided another unexpected change.(And intimidating!) To my surprize, (because I didn't get a leadership call) I am training a new sister from the MTC! It was crazy because I thought (plus everyone else) that I was the one leaving, but then they said Sister Jones is leaving and I didn't know what to think! We thought that our district leader was pulling our leg when he said I was training... But it was true. So I will be here in Highland for (probably) another 12 weeks! Crazy, huh?! I think so! I was definitely expecting to be leaving today, but alas, the Lord has something else in store. 
Sister Jones is going to Sun City, which everyone is telling us is a senior community, so she will be working with people quite different from Highland. She was sad about the move because she thought she had more time here in Highland, but I know she is going to be learning  a lot with a new companion. That is how it works. When changes come, we grow the most. I was kind of hoping that I would be with an older sister (mission age), but again the Lord had something else in store. Sister Hench just said that I have unfinished business to do here in Highland, and that might be why I am still here. I am excited and very intimidated about training this time. (I had the worst night of sleep after I found out about training...Couldn't fall asleep until past 11, which never happens on the mission! And then I woke up early and couldn't get back to sleep! But I slept well last night! Thankfully. :) ) Sister Jones was practically fully trained by the time Sister Robinette left, so that was an easy training experience. It is going to be quite different this time around, but I know that with the strength of the Lord I can do all things.  
On a very exciting note, we had a wonderful Sunday yesterday! Kaylyn, one of our investigators, had an interview for baptism yesterday and she is pretty much ready to go. She is going to get married before her baptism, but once she is married, a baptism is in sight! Then another investigator Joseph LaPorta had an interview with President Smart and he should be able to get baptized soon as well. He had somethings he needed to work out before baptism, but all should be well! He has been so patient and has been to church every week for the past couple of months. He is going to be a great addition to the ward! 
Then, Mark, who was baptized in November, received the Aaronic Priesthood yesterday! That was very exciting because we had been hoping for that to happen! He is now a priest. :) Then we had a less-active woman who just moved from the Philippines at church and she joined the choir! That was just a random highlight, but it was something we didn't expect. Our ward choir is TINY and she was asked if she wanted to be in it and she said yes! It was great! So yesterday was a very eventful day at church and it was wonderful! I almost forgot. We have been teaching this older woman, Frances, since I first got her and she has to have a walker, so she hasn't been able to come to church before, but she was able to come yesterday! It was great! Lots of great things yesterday! (Lots of exclamation points in this paragraph!) 
Peder, you are right! Sundays are the best! In the MTC, they are wonderful! I love them. :) It is a little different in the field. I get stressed out the most on Sundays because of who is supposed to be there and making sure that everyone has someone to sit with, etc. It is a good problem to have though! We have been having 4-5 people are church the past couple of weeks, so we can't complain! But our ward is small, so sometimes we don't know who the investigators can sit with, so I get stressed out. (Does that sound like me? ;) ) But like I said it is a good problem to have! I love to see investigators at church, so it is wonderful!
So last week was a good week overall, but we have been struggling with our OYMs. I don't know what happened but we struggled this week! We were trying to talk to everyone we saw, but we just didn't meet our goal. We are going to try hard this week! We did have 28 lessons this past week, which was the most we have ever had, so that was good. But we have a lot to improve on. We need to get a lot more OYMs and new investigators, so that will have to be something we focus on!
Missionary work is wonderful! It can certainly be stressful and overwhelming at times, but I do love being a missionary. I love all the people that I have grown to love. I love that I have the Highland 1st ward as a family on my mission. It is the best! I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ is restored to the earth. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet and through him, the restored church of Jesus Christ is once again here to bless us. I know that Jesus Christ lives and loves us infinitely. I know that His Atonement covers more than just our sins, but also our pains, sicknesses, afflictions, and temptations. I know that no matter where we are in our lives, we can always turn to our Savior for the strength that we need. I love prayer! I love that we can communicate with our Heavenly Father at all times, and we can talk with him.  I know that going to church is what gives us the motivation and strength to become better every week. I know that missionary work is what I am supposed to be doing right now! I am supposed to be here, learning and growing, and most importantly, teaching and helping others come unto Christ. That is my purpose as a missionary, "To invited others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, Repentance, Baptism, Receiving the Gift of the Hold Ghost, and Enduring to the End." I hope and pray that I can continue to improve! I am so thankful for the opportunity to be here! I know this is where I am supposed to be! I know that. The Church is true! The Book of Mormon is true and testifies of our Savior, Jesus Christ. I know that we grow the most when life is hard. I know that we learn the most when we have to teach others.
Thank you for all your love and support! You are the best family ever and I love you SOO much! We are so blessed to be an Eternal family!
Love much,
Sister Schillemat
ps. Sorry I write really long emails! I like telling you a lot, and you deserve it. :)