Monday, March 26, 2012

Amazing week in California!


I just love hearing from you every week! It makes me so excited to
email. I just love you all so much. End of story. :)

Geoff, keep making Mom smile for us while we are gone! I love to hear
that! Geoff, you have grown up so much and before you know it you will
be out serving a mission. Always be strong and make sure that you are
always preparing for the work. It is amazing!

So it truly was a wonderful week in the mission. Yesterday we returned
home and after daily planning and companionship prayer, we were
kneeling around our beds and I just felt so much joy. It is
incomprehensible joy that I felt. I really was just so full of
gratitude yesterday. I have to say it was probably one of my favorite
days on my mission. We worked really hard last week, and we saw the
fruits of our labors. I want to tell you about one man in particular
that made my day yesterday.

We have been teaching, "Red" William Carpenter, an 80 year old man,
who lost his wife about 3 months ago. Red is an amazing man, who has
been reading the Book of Mormon for years, watches BYU TV ALL the
time, and just knows a lot about the church. Well, we have been trying
to get him to church for several weeks now, and he hasn't come. Well
this past week we met with him twice, called him every day(or nearly
every day), and even showed up to his house Sunday morning to make
sure he was up and still planning to go. I fasted for him twice. We
did everything that we could do to get him to church. And then he
came. It was the most wonderful feeling in the world. It reminded me
of the scripture, "It is by grace that we are saved, after all we can
do." We knew that we had done everything that we could possibly have
done, and the rest was up to Red and the Holy Ghost to help him come.
And he did. I was just filled with so much gratitude and joy! It was a
wonderful feeling. (We are trying to get Red to commit to baptism, but
he is still praying about it. That is what we want! But a good sign
was that he told his daughter about maybe getting baptized! We were SO
excited! He needs lots of prayers and support, but he is great!)
We also had a total of 7 investigators at church yesterday, which was
HUGE! We have nevber had that many, ever. Well, since I have been on
the mission. It was such a miracle. And they all liked it! (As far as
we know. :) ) Red stayed 20-30 minutes after church just talking to
people! Another investigators felt so welcomed! We had one
investigator, Karena, who loved YWs! It truly was a beautiful day at

I am so grateful for my mission. I love that I have this wonderful
opportunity to serve for a year and a half. Time is going so quickly,
I don't want to waste it. I know that this is truly the Lord's time
and I have to do all I can do build up the kingdom in this area. I
know this is where I am supposed to be. I have really grown to love my
mission and my area. Highland feels like my home ward. I have never
been so involved in a ward before and for so long. I love the people
and they take care of us so well. We know that we are loved and I am
so grateful for that. I know that I am here for a reason, and I love
serving with SIster Birrell! She is just wonderful and we enjoy each
other so much!

I forgot another great part of yesterday! Karena is pretty scared of
water and getting baptized. Before Gospel Principles, Karena was
voicing her concern and her mom Lisa was trying to tell her that it
was okay. Then, Kaylyn, who was baptized last month, started to
explain to Karena how she too was scared of the water. Kaylyn told her
that if you have faith in yourself and faith in #1 God, that all will
be all right. Kaylyn said that she knew the Sisters wouldn't do
anything to hurt her and that she would be fine. She explained coming
out of the water as feeling all fresh. Kaylyn's testimony was truly
beautiful! We knew that she was comforting Karena and helping her very
much! Then during Gospel Principles, Kaylyn was asked to talk about
the Holy Ghost that she recently received. She explained it so well
and simply, and stared right at Karena and Lisa, so they would
understand. Sister Birrell and I couldn't stop smiling. We were so
happy. We were able to see a recent convert doing exactly what she
should be. Kaylyn's testimony was beautiful and she was helping Karena
and Lisa so much! (Sister Birrell and I both were thinking about how
wonderful Kaylyn would be at fellowshipping them! Perfect!)

Thank you so much for all your love and support! I love serving here
and I love that I have a wonderful family at home! You are loved and
missed dearly!

Mama- Thanks for all you do! I am glad that Geoff is making you smile!
His letters make me smile (and cry) too!
Papa- How are you doing? How is work? What kind of ice cream did you
get at Rick's with Mama?
Kirstin- How's little Lucy? How's school and work? When are you moving
to Keene?!
Andrea- How are the boys? How's running going? I am going to have to
run with you when I get home! I decided I am going to come home
"well-rounded", so I'll need you help! ;)
Poul- Congratulations on the calling in the singles ward! That will be
great for you to get more involved! Any dates coming up? ;)
Jo- How is school going? Is it warm up there too?
Peder- You are in the highest baptizing mission! That is insane! You
are working so hard and I love hearing your stories! Love you!
Geoff- Good luck with track this year Geoff! I know you'll be great!
How's school going? What classes are you in?

Love you all so much! Keep praying for me! I always need it! You are
in my prayers out here in California!

Sister Gretchen Schillemat

Monday, March 19, 2012

Start of Transfer Five--Still in Highland!

Hello Family!

Transfer calls were Saturday night and I was glad to hear that I was
staying one more transfer here in Highland! Sister Birrell and I were
pretty sure that nothing was going to change, but we werent 100% sure.
I am a little nervous about leaving Sister Birrell, but all is well!
Another 6 weeks in Highland! (I remember a transfer ago I was thinking
I was leaving and I was totally okay with that, but this transfer call
I really didn't want to leave. :))

Last week was a week full of miracles. Lots of great people and
wonderful things happened!
First of all I want to tell a story that relates to Mom's comment
about being in the right place at the right time. We had a miracle
happen on Tuesday because we were at the right place at the right
We were trying to find a guy named Jason that supposedly moved into
our ward. After checking his apartment once and no one knew who he
was, we decided to check again. The same Spanish speaking lady came to
the door and said she didn't know him. We asked her (well we kind of
did...she couldn't really understand us) if she would like to learn
more and she gave us her number for the Spanish Sisters. After leaving
her door, we knocked on another door of a guy we met. No answer. (But
we left a Family Proclamation!) Then I said that we should go out of
the complex to the sidewalk just to see if anyone was there. We went
out and there wasn't many people, but there was an old man walking up
the sidewalk with a rolly bag. We started talking to him and found out
that he was heading to the casino to hand out pamphlets about how to
read the Bible correctly. (Interesting, huh?) Anyway, we talked to him
for a while about the Restoration and left him with a pamphlet. We
then asked him if we could pray with him. He agreed and prayed first
and then I did. As the prayer ended, a lady started walking up to us.
She seemed like she wanted to talk to us...She then said, "I was just
driving by and I saw you praying and the Spirit told me to pull over
and tell you girls that you are doing a good thing! God is watching
over you! I even double parked, so that I could tell you that." She
just came up and hugged SIster Birrell and the old man. It was amazing
to me! Because we knocked on two apartment doors, and then checked the
sidewalk, we had a lady stop and tell us that. We knew that we were at
the right place at the right time! It was truly a miracle! (And to add
to that: The Spanish sisters now are teaching that woman we talked to!
She is really open and now they have another investigator!)

Another highlight of the week happened on Saturday! We have been
working with this family the Campanas for a while. Most of them of are
active, but the oldest son Michael is not. Last week, we went over
almost every night to read scriptures with them. It was great! And
then we invited Michael to a baptism on Saturday. We weren't sure if
he would really come. It was in Redlands for a lady we had never met,
but we really wanted to get people there! So we told Michael about it
and called him Saturday morning. He said he would come. And then he
called back a couple minutes later and said that he might not make it
in time because he was at the Barber shop and the wait was a while. We
told him to pray and we'll pray that he gets out in time. So we text
him an hour later to see how the haircut is going and he texts us,
"The prays must have worked because I am done." It was perfect! So he
came to the baptism with his brother Edwin!And Edwin brought his
non-member girlfriend, Yvette, as well! And Michael dressed up in
church clothes! It was so amazing! And the baptism was wonderful!
There was a beautiful musical number and just an amazing Spirit that
was there.
Following the baptism, we had an appointment at the Campanas and it
was probably the most spiritually uplifting lessons we've had with
them. They were listening intently as we read from the scriptures and
testified of repentance and baptism. Following the lesson and a
kneeling prayer, we were giving our hugs and hand shakes goodbye and
Sister Campana said, "Thank you so much. Thank you so much for helping
our family. Don't go away." She began to cry and just hugged us. She
was just so grateful for us being there and it was a very special day.
I love that family so much and they are an example of faith. They have
a lot of challenges, but they are so uplifting. As we left that day,
Edwin just hugged his mom, and the Spirit was there.

I love this gospel! It blesses families soo much!

Well today my hand is a tad tired from typing, but this church is
true. It is such a joy in my life! I love you all so much and pray for
you often! Keep me in your prayers! I need them! :)

I love you much!
Sister Gretchen Schillemat

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Baptism Pictures

Me and Nancy!
Sister Robinette came down for Joseph's baptism.  I was so excited to see her.

              Joseph's Baptism and Nancy's Baptism Pictures are included.


Monday, March 12, 2012

Some pictures from Gretchen--week of March 4, 2012

So we had a lesson outside on a porch in the beautiful weather! Yes,
the dog is jumping on me. :) This lesson was with Michelene, from the

We spent three hours in PepBoys last Friday, so we had to document. :)

Jasmine is a girl we are teaching and as we came out of the
lesson last week there were two guys with a pony. She had the honor of
getting on him.

The End of the Second Transfer


Thank you for the packages and cookies! It was a treat to get to
packages on the same day! One from Mom and the boys and the other from
Andrea and the boys, so thank you!

This past week was an interesting one. As for miracles I will tell you
about how service bring miracles. We had a Zone meeting on Tuesday and
talked a lot about EARNING referrals. Service was one of the best ways
to earn referrals from members. So the following day we had an extra
20 minutes and went and washed some dishes at the Litterer's home.
Sister Litterer greatly appreciated it and told us that Sister
Bocanegra was having a stressful day dnad we should go by there. We
would have never thought to go to the Bocanegra if not for Sister
Litterer. So we had a little more time later on that day and we went
to their home. We asked her how we could serve her and she said they
were pretty good. After being persistant, she said that her aunt just
moved in down the road and she hadn't been able to visit her in a
couple of days, so she wanted us to go by. The aunt was a non-member!
So we visited her and have another appointment with her this upcoming
week! That was truly a miracle. If we didn't go to the Litterers, we
wouldnt have gone to the Bocanegras, and wouldn't have met Cathy,
SIster Bocanegra's aunt! The Lord works in miraculous ways!

Having two baptisms this week was another miracle and highlight. Nancy
had been having a lot of opposition this past week, so it was
beautiful to see her baptized. Then, Joseph had been waiting 5 months
or so for his baptism, so it was great. There were quite a few people
at Joseph's baptism. President Smart came and President Strong, the
Redlands Stake President. President Strong said that it was one of the
best baptisms he had been to in his life. He didn't want to leave
because of the beautiful Spirit that was there. It was really amazing.
Joseph also bore his testimony and that was really special to hear how
grateful he is for the church and how much he knows this is true. I
just loved it!

Guess who else was there?! SISTER ROBINETTE! She came from Utah for
the baptism and that was really special! I just loved seeing her and
it was great! She is one person that has impacted my mission and my
life. She is such an amazing person and I was so blessed to have her
as my trainer.

It was a little on the rough side other than the things I mentioned.
We had a lot of cancellations, but this upcoming week is going to be
great! We have amini-missionary with us, named Candice, and she is
absolutely wonderful! She had come out with us for a day last month
and loved it, so she asked President Smart if she could spent a week
of her spring break with us. It is going to be great! Sister Birrell
and I know that it is truly inspired that she is with us this week. :)

Scripture for the week: Doctrine and Covenants 50:24 "That which is of
God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God,
receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter
until the perfect day."
I read this scripture at Joseph's baptism because I think it pertains
especially to the Hold Ghost. Joseph received the light of the Holy
Ghost and has he is faithful and obedience or "cointinueth in God", he
will continue to receive more light and it will grow brighter and
brighter every day. His light will continue to increase and he will be
a light and example to those around him. That is the same with us. We
can continue to grow in light as we are obedient. How much easier it
is to go through the path of life when we have light than when we have
darkness. We will be able to see the rocks and boulders of opposition.
We will be able to climb over those rocks and be successful. But we
need to be obedient to have that light. And the light will grow
brighter and brighter! (This morning we read 2 Nephi 28:30 and that
related with line upon line...we'll receive more as we use what
Heavenly Father has given us.)

This week, let's LET OUR LIGHT SHINE! (I certainly need this too!)
We are so blessed!

I love this gospel and I know that we have been so blessed with teh
Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon brings power into our lives. I know
that as we hold it in our hands and read it, we will be uplifted and

I love missionary work! And I love you! Thank you all for your love
and support! I miss you, but guess what? My 6 month mark is this week!
Where'd the time do?!

Mom, Thank you for the cookies, pants, and my sweatpants! I was soo excited!
Dad, How are you doing? How's work and the High Priests Group?
Poul, How is work and life? Have you applied to BYU?
Geoff, How was the Prom? Mom told me you went! I want to see pictures!
Kirst, Thank you for the birthday card! It was so sweet! Give Lucy a
hug for me. :)
Andrea, Thank you for the package and the cookies and cards! I loved
Liam's stickers! :) Give the boys a hug for me too!
Jo, How is work? Are you getting my emails? It keeps saying failure delivery....
Peder, I LOVE THAT WE ARE SERVING TOGETHER! We had baptisms on the
same day too! I think that is really cool! I hope everything is going
well! Stay strong Pedro! Missionary work is great. :)

Love you all,
Sister Gretchen Schillemat

Monday, March 5, 2012

Picture time!!!

 Sister Schillemat and Sister Birrell Styling on Laundry Day!
 The East Coast Missionaries: Sister Schillemat, Sister Birrell, and Elder Sabino.
 Sister Birrell, Sister Schillemat, Nancy (getting baptized on March 10) and her granddaughter, Tuesday.
 Gretchen's first California sunburn.  

 Gretchen's Surprise Birthday party--Happy 22nd Birthday, Sister Schillemat.
 Love the Crown!

Two Baptisms and watch out-this is a long letter!

Hello Family!

It is always a treat for me to hear from you! Thank you for all the
birthday wishes and love! It was a great birthday week, and I loved
it. :) Sister Birrell would randomly say, "It's your birthday week!"
and that made the whole week even brighter. :)

This past week was miraculous is other ways than normal. We had a lot
of Recent Convert/Less ACtive lessons, which perviously were
struggling. So that was really great! It just meant some other areas
(like member-present lessons) suffered a bit. But we will get the
balance someday! I am still learning a lot all the time!
So my favorite miracle of the week is one of the lessons we taught.
There is a couple, the Liras, that just moved into our ward. We met
Sister Lira last Sunday and we set up a time to come by. The first
appt fell through, but then we finally got in with them. Sister Lira
was just baptized last July (the 31st I think), but her husband is a
less-active member and was baptized when he was 8. Anyway, we started
on the lesson and said we were going to be talking about the
Restoration, and Brother Lira got up and said,"Oh, I've heard this one
many times..." He walked away for a little bit, but then he decided he
would sit in on the lesson. We started talking about  lot of different
things, prophets, how Heavenly Father loves us, and the Book of
Mormon, but it wasn't a typical Restoration lessons. The Spirit was
absolutely directing us where to go. During the lesson, I think we
were talking about the Book of Mormon, and I asked if we could read
Moroni 10:3-5. We read it, and then Sister Lira said, "I can't believe
you picked that one. That was the scripture that the Elders read to me
when they told me a personal story and I felt the Spirit for the first
time." She started to cry in awe that we had read that scripture, one
that meant so much to her. (I knew that was definitely the Spirit
because I remember while we were reading it feeling like it didn't fit
with the lesson very well, but that's the scripture that I felt like
we should read.) It was an amazing expereince. We then asked about
family prayer and invited them to start doing that every day. I have
such a strong testimony of family prayer! Thank you Mom and Dad for
all of our prayers as a family. It is such a blessing. The Liras
agreed to do family prayer. Then we prayed, and following the prayer
Sister Birrell said, "I feel impressed to say this, but my dad often
tells me that we are warriors in the battle here on earth and if we
are in thefight against Satan, we are going to get wounded. But that's
okay." As she shared that with them, Brother Lira began to cry. He had
recently lost his brother to cancer and took it very hard. He said
that he often would say that he was going to be a warriorin heaven. He
pointed to the wall where there was a sword hanging there. That was
exactly what he needed to hear. Sister Birrell and I walked out of
that lesson feeling so blessed that the Spirit directed us. We knew
that the Spirit had taught that lesson and we were just the
mouthpieces. That was truly a miracle! To add to that miracle: Their
whole family was at church yesterday! :) The Spirit is so powerful! I
know that it changes lives!

That was one miracle of the week. :)

Oh yeah! About the title of the email!
Saturday, March 10th we are having 2 baptisms! Well...ones for
Highland 2nd ward (not our ward) and ones for Highland 1st (our ward).
Let me explain. :)
So Nancy is someone that we have been teaching since January (or the
end of December). She is the mother of a less-active woman, Melody. At
the time we started teaching her, they lived in our ward boundaries,
but then they moved into the 2nd ward's boundaries about a month ago.
But we got to still teach her! It was great! Since I first met her,
she just said she was hungry for the truth and she knows that she had
found it. :) Yesterday she said that she her search was over! She is
such a strong woman. So she is getting baptized this week!
Then the second one is Joseph LaPorta! I know I have told you about
him before, and I am soo exccited for him to be baptized! I have been
teaching him since my first transfer in the mission field and the time
has finally come! He has worked so hard to be baptized, so we are very
excited for him. He is going to be a great addition to the ward, and
we are just so excited!
Nancy's baptism is at 4:00 and Joseph's at 6:00 on Saturday! It is
going to be a great day! Pray for both of them!

I really love being a missionary. I see myself growing all the time. I
know that I still have so much to learn and I still make many
mistakes. This past week was one of those weeks where I just felt like
everything I did was wrong. Not everything, but lots of appts were
falling through and plans weren't working out... Sometimes it was
justreally hard. But then I remembered that I am doing my best. Even
doing my best, I am still going to make lots of mistakes, but that is
why we are so blessed with the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ
lives and he loves us so much!
The Book of Mormon is such a powerful book. I love reading from that
book. I know that that book is true and as we apply the principles in
the book, then our lives are filled with light!
I really liked the scripture Alma 19:6 this week about light infusing
joy into our souls. And then this morning I read in Helaman 5 about
how we are in darkness when we don't repent, but repentance can bring
light into our lives!  Any other insights on light and darkness? There
are so many good scriptures on that!

I just remembered a funny quotation from yesterday: We were talking to
some kids playing basketball and one of them asks, "Does your church
give away free food?" We replied, "No." Then another little boy says,
" Ours does! But we have to pay for it..." :) Sister Birrell and I had
a good laugh!

We also talked to this older man that likes the church, reads the Book
of Mormon, and watchs the BYU channel a lot. We asked him about his
reading in the Book of Mormon. He said he was in Alma right now and we
asked how he felt when he was reading it and his reply was,"I want to
fight with them!" :)

Life is great out here in California! Tell me about your miracles. :)

I love you all so much! Thank you again for the wonderful birthday
wishes! It was a great birthday in the mission!

Love you lots! The Church is true. Heavenly Father loves you!

Sister Schillemat