Hello from the Colorado, Colorado Springs Mission

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Got to go to the Temple Twice in 24 hours - Week #45

Editor’s Note: The Church Missionary Department informed Kyle on Wednesday that he was being honorably released from his mission due to medical reasons.  This is a result of his need to take medication not allowed while serving as a missionary.  Unfortunately, this will be his last blog post.  He appreciates all the emails, letters, packages, and support everyone has provided him these past eleven months. 

Good afternoon, this week was awesome!  We had our dinner appointment on Tuesday night (the one that was going to bring an investigator) and he brought three.  The member and I went to order food as my companion made light conversation with the others at our table and when I returned he was already halfway through the restoration lesson.  They were all really impressed and one of them came to church on Sunday.  I'm so glad that things worked out so well.  More than we had planned!

Friday evening we took one of our recent converts to the Temple to do baptisms for the first time. She really enjoyed it.  She was really excited to have taken one of her own family’s names to do the work for them.  My companion and I helped out with the Confirmations.  We spent the whole time in that room.  My companion is terrible at pronouncing names, so it was interesting to see what names he'd come up with!  It was a really great experience.  We took pictures but none of them turned out too well.  I'll send one anyways though!

Saturday morning we took our other recent convert to the Temple so she could do baptisms for the first time.  She couldn't stop mentioning how much she felt the Spirit and was in tears the entire time.  This time we got to do baptisms and confirmations.  I baptized my companion in the font and then we switched places and he baptized me.  It made me think about Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery baptizing each other after receiving the Aaronic Priesthood.  It was a very neat experience.  Not too many missionaries in our mission get to go to the temple other than their year marks.  I had the privilege to go twice in 24 hours. It's a great motivation to see how much the Gospel can change people and bless their lives.  It makes you want to work even harder.  

Tomorrow is my 11 month mark which means next month I will get to go to the Temple again.  I wish I could go more often, it's such a Spiritual place.  I love you all so much!  I hope you have a wonderful week and I will hear from all of you soon.

God is Great!

Elder Gillingwater

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A Great Week and Dinner at Momma Pearl's - Week #44

Crawfish at Momma Pearl's
So this week has been great!  We have a date scheduled to take our newly baptized member to the temple this week.  Hopefully she has a wonderful experience.  We also have a recent convert that we've been helping find a name to take to the temple so she can do a family name for her first time.  So, we might get to go to the temple twice this week.  That would be so cool!  I finally got a picture of our recent converts baptism.  It was such a wonderful day!

Baptismal Photo
This week we met with a new investigator who has a Pagan background.  He's a really solid guy, but has hangups with praying.  It's against his religion to pray to a God.  Hopefully has he reads the Book of Mormon that will change.  We have been inviting members to bring their friends to lessons with us and it seems like this upcoming week that's going to happen.  We had one member ask us if it was alright if 3 of his friends came to our next lesson or if we just wanted one. Obviously, we wanted as many friends as he could get.  We also have another member bringing 2 friends to our next lesson with him.  That's 5 potentially new investigators this week.  We have so much to look forward to!
Frog Legs at Momma Pearl's

This week my companion had us go to a restaurant here in town called "Momma Pearl's"; it's a traditional Louisiana style place.  Since he is from Louisiana he wanted to go to their crawfish boil and see how it matched up with back home.  I ate crawfish for the first time... along with alligator and frog legs.  The crawfish was really weird to eat but we cleaned a whole platter, only to have the chef come over and refill it, "on the house," so I had to go back and eat more. The alligator was good too, really chewy.  Frog legs were weird, but we had a great time!

I'm excited to tell you all about my adventures this week.  Thanks for all your emails and I hope to hear from you all soon.  Have a great week!

God is Great!

Elder Gillingwater

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Excited About the Work - Week #43

Good Morning everyone!  It's so great to read all of your emails.  We had a great week this week.  We spent a good amount of time working on finding a new investigator.  We kept asking members for referrals, but nothing really came from it.  We were out contacting people in the parks, but no one really wanted to listen.  After several days we were pretty discouraged about finding someone new, but we got a call from the Spanish elders asking if we would like to come to a lesson with them.  It was a non-Spanish, YSA aged, investigator who was really interested in learning more.  We were so excited!  We met with him and the lesson went really well.  The only problem that arose was he does not live in our area.  He lives in one of the other YSA wards.  Sadly, we are passing him off to the other missionaries, but we had more to come!

This Saturday we went on exchanges with the AP's (Assistants to the President).  Don't worry; we weren't having any issues (I'm not a troublemaker).  The opportunity arose and we took it!  So I got to be AP for a day.  I got to help with a conference call, the Mission Office, and good ol' missionary work in their area.  We street contacted in Memorial Park which had tons of people in it.  We didn't have a full gospel discussion with anyone while we were there, but we did hand out Mormon.org cards and a Book of Mormon.  Overall it was really fun to be a temporary AP, but exchanges ended Saturday evening.  When I got back to my area with my companion, Elder Parker he told me that they had found a new investigator!  One that actually lives in our area!!!  He sounds really solid and I can't wait to meet him this week.

We're starting a new activity in our ward where during the Friday night activities; we will be holding a basic lesson on Gospel Principles.  The full-time missionaries will be teaching and we will hold a Q&A session at the end to answer questions anyone might have.  The goal is to have members bring their non-member friends to a non-threatening activity to hear a Gospel message.  We will be starting this month and I'm eager to see how it goes.

Our recent convert of one week got her temple recommend on Sunday to do baptisms and is excited about going to the temple!  We met with her this morning before emailing and had a great discussion about Jesus Christ and His Atonement.  It was a great way to start off a P-Day and a new month.

It sounds like I may have my drivers license issue figured out! FINALLY!!!  I'm getting a paper duplicate (no picture ID on it) that shows I'm legal to drive.  It should be here in a little over a week.  I'll still need my passport to get on base, but I won't have to be chauffeured anymore!  That's one burden lifted off my shoulders!

I love you all so much!  Thanks for being so supportive! Congratulations to my cousin Shelby who is leaving on her mission to the Canada, Vancouver mission!  I'm so excited for her and know she will have a fantastic time serving the Lord!  Have a great week and I will write to you all soon.

Funny Story of the Week: Elder Reimer and Elder Johnson convinced me to get a free haircut at Paul Mitchell’s hair school here in town.  Missionaries get them for free because a member owns the Salon.  I was nervous because I didn't know if they were going to do a good job or mess up!  Well they did a fantastic job on my hair (phew!), but they botched Elder Reimer and Elder Johnsons!  Elder Johnson lost all of his sideburns and then some and Elder Reimer lost most of his hair up to the top of his head.  He looks kind of like a monk!  I don't know if I will ever do that again, but it was funny to see the results afterwards!

God is Great!

Elder Gillingwater

Sunday, May 31, 2015

A Donut Burger? - Week #42

Yes, He Ate A Donut Burger!
I had a great week this week!  We had a baptism on Sunday that went so well.  We had the service right before church and she even bore her testimony afterwards.  One of the Senior Couples took pictures for us and I haven't received those yet but once I do I will send them to you.  This week we got to have our zone conference which was fantastic.  We spent the day talking about how to build our faith.  The focus was on how Sunday shouldn't be a day of do's and don'ts.  Everything we do should be focused on strengthening our relationship with the Savior.  I'm glad that they put the focus on that.

I want to share something from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland that he told us about his mission (Paraphrased).  No one in his family had gone on missions.  He didn't know anyone that had gone on a mission and had no idea what it was supposed to be like.  He walked off the plane to shake hands with his Mission President wearing an olive green corduroy suit with a burgundy vest, and then he depicted his Mission President face palming and thinking "Boy, this kid needs work".  But Elder Holland realized that those 2 years of his mission were two years that he'd never get back and he said he'll wrestle anyone to the ground who thinks that their mission was better than his.  He wants each and every one of us to work hard at converting others.  We won't get this chance again.
Elder Parker and Elder Gillingwater

This week Elder Parker and I have been working on trying to find a new investigator but it's getting difficult with the school semester ending and all the Cadets leaving.  Hopefully some of the member's sticking around for the summer will be able to help.  Another member in our ward has turned in his mission papers and we're really excited for him.  He's a recent convert of about a year and is really excited to go.  We hope to hear soon where he's going.

This last P-Day we went hiking in the mountains as a District with our Zone Leaders and the Assistants to the President.  It was a lot of fun.  It was a pretty straight forward hike but our group split up to explore different trails.  My group made it out fine but the other group got lost.  We made it back to the cars at 2:30 pm and they didn't make it back until 6:30.  We were nervous because they didn't have any cell reception but they made it back fine.  One of our Zone Leaders from the other group lost his shoe in a river and had to hike without a shoe for 3 hours.  It sounds like their experience was a lot crazier than ours, but I got some good pictures from the hike that I'll send out.

This week I got to try something really unique. A donut burger! It was really good.  I took a picture and it still looks yummy.

God is Great!

Elder Gillingwater

Our P-Day Hike

Beautiful Colorado Springs!

My Zone Picture

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Super Busy and Working Hard! - Week #41

Helen Hunt Falls

Sorry that this is a day late.  You can blame me for that.  We had a really busy day yesterday and didn't even have time to email.  I'll give you all some quick updates.  Both my companion and I are staying in the Cheyenne Mountain YSA ward for another 6 weeks.  I'm so grateful to have such a wonderful companion.  He's been a real strength and we're working really hard together.  Our investigators baptism moved from this Friday to this Sunday morning because her boyfriend, the one baptizing her, his flight wasn't going to make it on time for the service.  We're eager and excited for her to participate in the ordinance of Baptism and make that covenant with the Lord.  

We went to Helen Hunt Falls for P-Day and its really pretty there.  I'll send some pictures.  This week we also got to visit with Elder Jeffrey R. Holland.  It was such a great experience.  He shared some really great points and I took notes!  I don't have them with me now, but I can send some out in my next email.  I also got to shake his hand and introduce myself.  It was pretty cool!  I apologize for the lack of depth in this email.  I will make up for it next week.  I love you all so much!  You're wonderful and a great support group.  Take care.

God is Great!

Elder Gillingwater

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Neither Hail, Thunder, Snow, or "Pigeons" can Stop the Lord's Work - Week #40

Freak Hailstorm!
We had a great week this week!  This week started off with us going to the Field house, an indoor sports pavilion that houses indoor soccer, hockey, basketball, baseball, volleyball, and a gym.  This was our P-Day activity and it was a lot of fun.  We went to Texas Road House for dinner afterwards which is one of my favorite restaurants.  It was a great kick-off to a great week.
On Tuesday we had a lesson with one of our investigators and we were going to commit her to a baptismal date.  We had several Cadets with us because they all wanted to help us teach.  It's always nice having more people at lessons than just missionaries.  As we extended the invitation and date for baptism, she broke down and started crying (good crying).  She said she just felt so good right then and knew that this was the right thing for her to do.  We're so excited to hear that she's going to be baptized next week.  Sadly, the Air Force Academy has changed their force protection condition status to FPCON BRAVO, which means no one can get onto base without a valid military I.D. or escort.  We had to move our next appointment off base.
A lot of hail!

This week we also had an appointment with our other investigator who we also extended a baptismal date to.  She had been concerned before with her previous Baptist church because they never explained why they needed to be baptized, but simply that it was the right thing to do.  After we taught our lesson and focused on the importance of baptism, she was really excited because we were explaining its necessity.  She gladly accepted a baptismal date for mid-June.  We've finally got things moving in our ward!

It's been the worst weather this week!  In one afternoon we had a hailstorm, thunderstorm, and snowstorm; and it's been like that all weekend.  The hailstorm was so bad on Thursday that there were inches of hail on the ground.  People were getting stuck in it and having to get towed, all because of hail.  I've never seen anything like it before. Even we got stuck but we were able to get ourselves out of it.  None of my pictures really give it justice but I'll send what I have.

I also have a funny story because of the hailstorm.  As I walked out of my apartment I saw a pigeon sitting on the railing right next to our door.  It wasn't startled by me at all so I tried to shoo it away.  It flapped its wings and took off but it didn't want to fly in the hail so it turned around and I picture it in my mind saying "It's either you or me!" and it just started squawking and flapping its wings at me and attacked me.  I'm swatting at it and trying to make it leave but it wasn't going to give up.  It eventually flew past me and landed on the floor of the landing outside our apartment.  I went downstairs to tell the other elders what had happened and they thought it was so funny and were sad they missed it.  As we stepped back outside, I saw the pigeon standing on the steps in front of their door staring me down. The elders commented, "You better get out of here elder!"
Elder Parker and I (Elder King and Harris sneaking in)

On Mother's day our ward was combined with another YSA ward.  They cancelled Sunday School and made our Sacrament Meeting 2 hours because we had a total of 6 speakers instead of the normal three.  It was such a long meeting!  But it was really good!  I got to Skype my parents which was so great!  I loved hearing from them.  It overall was a great day.  I'm glad we had such a great week and I'm excited for what else is to come.  I hope you all have a great week.  I love hearing from you.  Thanks for your love and support.

5 Things That Made Me Smile:

1. Skype with my family

2. The pigeon attack

3. 2 investigators with a baptismal date

4. We grilled salmon wrapped in bacon with a maple syrup drizzle on top.  SO DELICIOUS!

5. Our Zone Training this week was airplane themed, we got complimentary peanuts, a movie (skit), and even a parachute jump!

God is Great!

Elder Gillingwater

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Rescuing Shopping Carts and Souls - Week #39

Rescued Shopping Carts!

So, I have a funny story to share with you guys.  We were invited by our Zone Leaders to attend a Just Serve service project at Bear Creek Park in Colorado Springs.  It was a community wide project and we were in charge of picking up litter along one of the jogging trails right beside a Wal-Mart.  There was so much trash it was really sad.  It's one of the poorer areas of town and there are a lot of homeless people that live in that park.  One of the volunteers heading our group asked us if we would be interested pulling shopping carts out of the creek since joggers had been complaining about them.  Since that sounded like more fun than picking up cigarette butts, beer bottles, and Styrofoam we accepted the challenge.  We had no idea how intense of a project we had just taken on.  We walked down the path looking down in the creek for shopping carts and after a couple hundred yards hadn't seen any yet.  We went through a tunnel and looked to our right and to our astonishment we saw a barricade of shopping carts in the creek.  Overall we pulled 25 shopping carts out of the creek.  It was pretty gross, most of them were buried deep into the mud and were a pain to pull out.  I ended up ruining my workout shoes from it, but many of the homeless people were excited to see us work.  It was fun though!  I sent a picture of the shopping carts we pulled out.  Some of the really gross ones are at the front of the line so they're hard to see, but they're covered in moss and slime!

On Monday night, we offered to teach the Family Home Evening lesson and activity for our YSA ward.  We decided to teach the Plan of Salvation life-size using the whole church building.  We started outside (no jackets) to resemble Pre-Earth life and as they entered "The Womb" they were able to put their jackets on (representing our bodies).  They had to crawl out of the womb in a tunnel we had made which was really funny.  We entered the Garden of Eden to discuss the fall and had pulled all of the plants in the building into one room making it look like a forest.  We moved on to our earthly life where each person was given a slip of paper describing their life on this earth and what they had done.  Based on that slip it was decided whether they would enter Spirit Paradise or Spirit Prison.  Then we had an activity where those who were in Spirit Paradise helped convert and bring over those who were in prison.  After that they went through judgment and went to the appropriate rooms representing the 3 Kingdoms of Glory.  Luckily most had made it to the Celestial Kingdom!  Everyone loved the lesson and the Bishop was really impressed with the job we had done!

So this week we had Specialized Training and it was a great meeting.  We met with our Mission President who discussed with us more on how to be a Consecrated Missionary.

Great news, we finally have an investigator!  We met with her at the Air Force Academy on Saturday and we had a really great lesson on the Restoration of the Gospel.  She asked really great questions and accepted a Book of Mormon and even offered the closing prayer asking during her prayer to come to the knowledge that the Book of Mormon is true.  I'm so glad we have someone we're teaching now.  It's been a while, but it's a really great feeling.

On Sunday we had a New Member Fireside in Colorado Springs for members who recently joined the church or recently came back to activity.  There's always some great testimonies shared there.  My companion went up and bore his testimony explaining how he's still a recent convert but how much he loves this Gospel.  It was such a great meeting!  You could really feel the Spirit there.

This week we also had a Spring Cleaning at our church building which was a great opportunity for members to invite their friends to an activity.  There were so many people there.  It was a lot of fun and we got to talk to quite a few people about the Church. 

I love you all so much!  Thanks for being so supportive!  You're all an example to me and help keep me focused on the work!  I am so excited to Skype home next week for Mother's Day!  I will talk to all of you soon!

5 Things That Made Me Smile:

1. Elder Parker's jacket for the Plan of Salvation activity was a banana suit which helped liven the activity.

2. One of the Bishopric members (who is an anesthesiologist) when exiting the womb said, "I'm a breech baby!" and went feet first.

3. A drunk homeless man was trying to help us with pulling the shopping carts out of the creek but he was so drunk he just kept falling over.

4. We have a grill at our new apartment and we've been grilling so many foods like steak, pork, chicken, rabbit, avocados, oranges, pineapple, watermelon, and carrots.  They're all great!  Except the carrots, they were kind of gross.

5. I got to visit with the Mission President's wife and for some reason she just really likes me.  I guess she talks about me a lot to other missionaries.  At least they're good things!

God is Great!

Elder Gillingwater