Monday, June 25, 2012

A Great Week in Riverside

Hello Family!
What a wonderful week it has been! I just love being here and I am so thankful for the privilege it is to be a missionary!
First off, Mikey and Kody both passed the sacrament in church yesterday, which was so wonderful! They both did great and were comfortable up there!  (Mom: Amanda, the mom and wife, should be sending you some pictures soon from her camera. They are from Katelynn's birthday party and some of her funny cat that I thought you and Poul and the family would enjoy. :) )
I love seeing people grow in the gospel and this family certainly is! Amanda came on splits with us this past week as well and she bore testimony to a less-active woman. Amanda was perfect because she had gone through many of the same experiences. Mikey also gave the FHE for the first time last week. It was really cool because he started off by saying, "So, I picked this more for the kids than for anyone else." And he taught about the Sabbath Day. That is the way FHE is supposed to be. You pick a topic that you feel your family needs and that is exactly what Mikey did! Beautiful! :)
Then wonderful news! I was able to go back for a baptism in Highland for Nicholas, Savannah's older brother. Savannah was baptized in December when I was there and I grew close to their family. Nicholas and the family have been having some hard times, but because of it, Nicholas was humbled enough to be baptized! He looked like a different boy when I saw him. It was so wonderful to be there and see him enter the waters of baptism. Their whole family are now members of the Church. It is truly a miracle for me to see! I love this gospel!
We had a great week for teaching. We were able to teach 25 lessons total, which was the most for this area. We did a lot of splits, which is a huge perk of being in a trio. We taught Maddie yesterday and she is excited about her baptism! We also taught a couple, who are on date for baptism at the beginning of August. They all came to church as well and another man we are teaching, whose wife is a member. (I think I told you about him...) We were able to reach a lot of our goals, which was wonderful!
Something that I have learned from Sister Jones is how we can attain goals. SIster Jones is so good at making and keeping goals. She has helped me be so much better. For most of my life, I feel like I would make some goals that were not very attainable, like reading Jesus The Christ before my mission and several others. I would always fail. But Sister Jones has taught me that if you plan it out and set aside time and be dedicated, you can attain your goals! Last week I made the goal to finish Numbers in the Bible (I really want to read the whole Bible through during my mission) and I made it! I just had to read it during lunch and other times. I finished it this morning, and it felt so good! Because of Sister Jones, I have really learned the value of making attainable, but challenging goals. I am so thankful for her teaching and showing me by example.
Another thing that I am so thankful for it how happy I am as a missionary! I just love to be with people and serve. There has never been a happier time (I am pretty sure) in my life. I am so thankful that we are able to have fun as we work as well. Sister Fankhauser is a hoot and Sister Jones and I just love laughing, so it has been truly wonderful. But what is even more wonderful is that we work hard and accomplish what the Lord wants and have fun together. I know that missionary work can be frustrating, but it is all about the attitude that we have!
Thank you all for your prayers and support!
I am so thankful for this blessing of being a missionary!
And I love you all!
 I love this sign--wish I had one.
Nicholas's baptism.   

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

 Katelynn, Mike's daughter.
 All the Sister Missionaries who have served in Highland.
The Baptism of Mike and Cody

Gretchen has had a very busy week!

How are all of you doing? I didn't hear from many of you this week, so fill me in! Mama? Peder? Poul?
This week was wonderful! Let me start with yesterday!
Well, yesterday Mike and Kody were confirmed members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! And then both of them received the Aaronic Priesthood! It was really wonderful because Mike, the father, was ordained to be a Priest and then was able to stand in the circle to ordain Kody to the office of deacon. What a beautiful day for their family! It really was a highlight to my mission. Seeing a whole family come unto Christ and now prepare for the temple. :) 
Then right after church we had a lesson with little Maddie. She asked her mom about being baptized and she said she could! There may be some stipulations, but her mom did say she could! And we invited her to be baptized on July 8th. :) We are going to have to see what her mom says, but this is HUGE! We are praying very hard that all with continue to go well. :) 
So can I just say, I LOVE being with Sister Jones and Sister Fankhauser! Trio can be hard sometimes, but we are having a wonderful transfer so far! We teach well together and all get along quite well. :) Life is so good here in Riverside! I just love being a missionary. I love every day. There are hard times, but I know that the joy of missionary work makes it all worth it. And my companions are just wonderful. I learn so much from both of them and we are seeing miracles. 
Guess what? I prayed in ASL this week! Multiple times, actually. :) I know how to say a VERY SIMPLE prayer, but I was able to do it. I really like it! It is very cool to be able to learn some ASL. I obviously don't know very much, but I can do the important things like pray. :) 
Also, HAPPY FATHER'S DAY to you, Dad! I sang to you! In the Deaf Branch, we sang "Daddy's Homecoming", while the primary children signed it!  It was quite the experience! I haven't sang that in sacrament meeting for probably 10 years! :) We were also the back-up singers for that song in the Arlington Ward, so I really sang it twice in sacrament meeting. :) Both times were for you, Papa! 
One of the funny stories of the week:
We were at a Deaf Family's home for dinner on Friday and I had never really met them. They were asking all of the typical questions like "Where are you from?", "How long have you been out?", etc. Then the husband asked Sister Jones, point at me, "Does she have marble syrup back home?" He was finger spelling this to her and she just looked so confused...She then asked him, "Maple syrup?" He was getting (jokingly) frustrated and said, "No, marble syrup!" Finally his wife comes into the conversation and tells him, no it is really maple syrup. Sister Jones was like, "Told you so!" :) Different language and different experiences. :) 
We had quite a few investigators at church yesterday! We had an investigator named Frankie there, who is amazing! She is soaking in the gospel and would be baptized here, except she is moving the first week in July. So we are going to transfer her up to her new area and then she will be baptized up there! She told our bishop yesterday that she was very excited to be a member of the church! It was great! We also had two part member family investigators at church yesterday! Brother Snell has been coming to church for 16 years, but hasn't joined yet. We just started teaching him last week, so we are hoping to see progress!  His wife is a member and he even teaches primary with her as well! The other man is the son of a member. He has never really been open to the Church, but we are now doing a bargain. We make dinner for him and then we can teach him a lesson. His mom is pretty sick, so we come over earlier in the day to help her with dinner and then her son said we could teach him. :) The Spirit will touch him. :) 
I know this Church is true!  This is a great work! I love it so much! Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers! Jesus Christ's Atonement is real! The Book of Mormon is true! And I love reading it!
Let me know how you all are doing! I love you soo much!
Sister Gretchen Schillemat
ps. How is Great Grandma? Almost 101 years old?  

Monday, June 11, 2012

A week of Inspiration and Joy

Oh what a glorious week that Sister Jones and I had! Obviously there are always some rough patches, but we ended on a VERY good note!
So let me tell you! KODY AND MIKEY WERE BAPTIZED! Kody has been on date for baptism for probably 3 or 4 weeks by now, but Mike would never commit to a date. We kept telling him that he is prepared and is showing so much faith, but we didn't feel like he could commit. So...we told him that he can do the baptismal interview and see how it goes and then be baptized in the next couple of weeks. So on Thursday, when Kody had his interview, we asked Mikey if he wanted his as well and he say yeah, sure! They both passed with flying colors! (Well, maybe...they both passed with no problems, so that is flying colors to me!) They both were very nervous, but it was all good!
Then we had a lesson on Saturday night with the Wileys in the ward. Brother Wiley was baptizing Kody the following day, so we just went over the baptism and made sure Kody felt prepared. At that point, we kept asking Mikey if he wanted to be baptized and he said not yet... We told him since he was interviewed that he could still decide the next day if he wanted to be.
So we had a great lesson and then we go home and we get a text from Amanda, his wife. "Are you still awake? Call me when you can." We call and find out Mikey has wanted to be baptized all along, but he has one predicament. He does a bowling league that only plays on Sundays. It doesn't get over until September. We had a twenty minute discussion with him and Amanda, both of us on speaker phone. He had two options really and we asked him deep down what he really wanted to do or rather what he needed to do. And his reply, "I think I should quit bowling." You should have seen us. We were SO excited! That is an understatement. But anyway, we got off the phone and he still hadn't told us for sure, but our hopes were quite high. :)
Then they show up to church and he says he is going to be baptized! Sister Jones had felt like that was going to happen all along! She had so much faith! :)
They announced it in church and we had a wonderful baptism with many of the ward members there! It was amazing! Let me tell you a story from the baptismal talk.
Sister Crumley, who is Amanda's aunt, gave the talk and she shared this experience with us about the Holy Ghost.
She was heading out to Ensign Book to pick up a new set of scriptures for Kody's baptism. As she was about to leave, she had the impression to go to her room to get a brand new set and bring it as well. The Holy Ghost was telling her that she needed two. At that point, she knew as well that Mikey was getting baptized! The Spirit is amazing! Heavenly Father knew that Mikey was going to be ready!
It was a wondeful baptism and it completed their family! Now their goal is the temple next year! They have all grown so much and great blessings are in store!
Also, after the baptism, we found out that 9 year old Maddie, who was there, wants to also be baptized! She has to ask her mom and get permission, but she wants to be! That is a huge step for her. Tom, her father, said that if she gets permission, then we can start setting it up for her to be baptized. :)
My joy was overflowing last night! It was a beautiful day in Southern California! Bishop McGee, over the Arlington Ward, said that I was smiling so big during the baptism that my face would be tired later. :)
There is a quotation that I want to paraphrase:
Missionary [noun]
Someone who leaves their family for a short times,
so others can be either theirs for eternity.
That is what it felt like last night. I am here on a mission for such a short amount of time and away from you all for such a short time, but I am helping others be together forever. Isn't that beautiful?
Life is so good! We also had transfer calls this past weekend and guess what?! I am not moving and neither is Sister Jones! BUT we are getting another companion! I will be in another trio. :) Sister Fankhauser (I hope I spelled it right) will be joining us within the next hour or so! We are very excited and know that this will help the work continue to move forward in Riverside!
I love this gospel! I love being a missionary! The joy is so great! I know this Church is true. The Book of Mormon is true and it does change lives. I know it! I know that Jesus Christ lives and he loves us so much! I know that Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers.
This is a great work!
I haven't done this is awhile,
Dad-HAPPY FATHER'S DAY! You are amazing Papa! Thanks for being the best! How have you been doing? I hope that all is well in Keene ward! It is always great to hear from the High Priests!
Mom- I want to go canoeing in the wetlands when I get home. That sounds like so much fun! Hope this week isn't so busy for you!
Kirstin, Jimmy, and Lucy- How is the work going? How is little Lucy? Kirstin, will you run around the lake for me? I miss it. :) 
Poul- Where are you brother? I haven't heard from you lately! How is everything going?
Andrea, Roland, Liam, and Landon- Hope Landon feels better soon! You can do it Ange! Run a marathon for me! :)
Jo- How is work for you? What are your summer plans?
Peder- I love you brother! I love you so much! Yay for missionary work!
Geoff- What are your summer plans? How were finals? I can't believe you are going to be a SENIOR! Where did the time go?
I love you all! You are so wonderful and I am so glad that I will be with you all for eternity! There is no greater gift!
Sister Gretchen Schillemat
ps.By the way, Peder, I am hitting my 9 month mark this week! Half way done? How could that be?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Time Flies when you're doing missionary work

Hello Family!
It is already week 6 of the transfer! Where did the time go?!
This past week was really good! To fill you in on Mike from last week that fasted and gave someone his number for work...He GOT A JOB! And he started today! Miracles do happen all the time. We just need the faith and act and then the Lord will bless us. Their family is doing really well. Kody's baptism is now on Sunday evening, June 10th. It means he won't be able to be confirmed until the next week, but this way more of the ward members will be able to come. We are very excited for his baptism. We are still praying for Mike to see if he prayed about being baptized with Kody. Pray for him too! We will see...
Life is so good as a missionary! Sister Jones and I had an exhausting week, but it was really good! I don't think I have ever been so tired on my mission, but I wouldn't change that. We had MANY splits last week, which was also good because we were able to teach more people. Since we are covering two wards (ward and branch really...) we need those splits to get everything done. There were a couple days where Sister Jones and I taught together for an hour and then the rest of the day we were on splits. It made for more member involvement, which is always good!
So this past week we had this one lesson, where we walked in and the mom was not in a very good mood when we first got there. She was tired and just wasn't feeling too well. She decided we were just going to teach her kids and she was going to leave the room so that they kids could focus more. We asked if she would stay for part of the lesson on the Sabbath Day and Law of Chastity (I am not teaching that one to kids without the mom being there...). She stayed and as we had the lesson, her mood was noticably changed. She was so much happier as we just discussed the gospel of Jesus Christ. As we went to the last part of the lesson, she decided to stay becuase she felt so much better.
That is what the gospel can do. It can change us from bad to good and good to better. When we are having a bad day, we can turn to the scriptures and prayer and family and feel so much better! I love this gospel and how much happiness it brings!
Heavenly Father is so good to me! I love being a missionary. I love serving in California! I love doing service! (Even when I get really tired!) This is a great work and no one can stop it! Peder, you and I, and many others are part of a great army, out to help the world! Isn't it amazing?!
I know this Church is true. I know that fasting brings miracles. I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior, and His Atonement is real. I know that the Atonement covers all things physically and spiritually that we have ever suffered. I know that because Jesus Christ lives, we will live again. I know that this is the restored Church of Jesus Christ. I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet and the Book of Mormon changes lives and is true! I know that President Monson leads and guides this Church under the direction of our loving Savior, Jesus Christ.
This is a marvelous work and a wonder! And I love it!
And I love you, my dear family! You are wonderful, and I pray for you often. Thank you for your prayers and love!
Have a wonderful week!

Sister Schillemat