Hello from the Colorado, Colorado Springs Mission

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Week #12 - Awesome Experiences

Hello from the Colorado, Colorado Springs Mission!

I Love the Views of Pikes Peak
We started off this week by going to transfer meeting at the mission office, which is out of zone.  When we got to the transfer meeting, my whole district from the Missionary Training Center (MTC) was there.  We were reunited again hahaha!  We took a few pictures and said our goodbyes to the departing missionaries.  I was sad to see Elder Esumei and Sister Moss get transferred, but we have some pretty cool people coming into our district to replace them.  Our mission is going to be struggling soon.  We had 15 missionaries leave this transfer, and only 5 came in to replace them.  Our Mission President had to close a few areas because there wasn't enough of us.  My companion and I hoped that meant we could get a car, but we weren't so lucky. 
Our New District
 So our district has two new additions to it.  Our new District Leader is Elder Twitchell, he's really hilarious and is from the same ward that Uncle Bart and Aunt Shari go to in Henderson, NV!  He said Bart was one of his Young Men's leaders.  We also got Sister Orton, probably the coolest sister missionary I've met so far.  We met for district meeting on Friday and Sister Orton dropped a bomb on us.  She was being transferred to a different Mission.  She leaves tomorrow after only being in our district for less than a week! She's going to the Tennessee, Knoxville mission.  I'm sure she will have a lot of fun there.  

Fun on P Day
Elder Haskell and I have really been working on finding new people to teach.  It's been awesome because random experiences have been happening where we meet people who are familiar with the church and want to be taught, or want to refer us to a friend.  Just a few days ago we were crossing the street and a lady stopped us because her dad was in the hospital and he wanted a blessing.  She wasn't a member of the church and didn't know who to turn to for help; when she saw us.  After talking with her for a while she seemed pretty interested in learning what we had to share!  Again we were stopped by a guy in his late teens whose foster parent was a member and he never had much interest in religion, but knew how important it was for his dad.  He wanted to know more so he could understand why it was so important to him; and after talking for a while, he agreed to meet with us again and said he'd try to go to church with his dad this week!  It's just amazing to see how the Lord prepares people to be willing and receptive to listen to the missionaries before we even find them.  All we have to do is ask and we shall receive!

I love you all so much!  Happy late birthday Elder Gillingwater the younger!  You're the makings of a great missionary and will be amazed at what you can accomplish when you're serving the Lord.  Keep me updated on all of the things you guys are doing!

5 things that made me smile:

1. Being able to meet with my MTC district again was really cool.  Catching up on how we've all been doing was lots of fun!

Scary Clown On Doorstep
2. There was a house completely decked out for Halloween with really creepy things all over the front yard.  In the evening we went as a district to take pictures and and learned Sister Orton is afraid of clowns.  We dared her to take a picture of her hugging it and when she did; it started shaking and screaming with it's eyes glowing.  She just collapsed on the grass and screamed!  We were all dying of laughter!

3. Our ward has a web page where they post upcoming events, if they need anything.  It's like a personal Craigslist for the ward.  We had a member post that we needed service on Saturday and if anyone needed anything to give us a call.  No one called!  When we went and visited people, they all said "We figured you were probably booked already, so we didn't bother calling!"  Needless to say, we did not do any service on Saturday.

4. During Stake Conference, our Stake President asked Sister Orton to go up and bear her testimony, which was unplanned.  It freaked her out because she had only been in our Stake for 3 days, what were the odds of that?

5. We have an active family in our ward who is crazy awesome with doing missionary work.  They've had the discussions taught in their home 2 different times since the beginning of the summer.  They're just constantly finding people.  The wife got a really strong impression to ask her son's art teacher about taking the lessons and she really didn't want to because she wanted a break for a little while, but the feeling wouldn't leave.  So she went over to ask and expected a no as a response but shockingly the teacher said I'd love to add to what I know, and if we could try and start this as soon as possible, I'm really eager to learn.  The wife was happy it worked out and jokingly said "I guess the Lords work doesn't run on my time table".

God is Great!

Elder Gillingwater

Sunday, October 19, 2014

It Feels Like Christmas with how cold it is here!

Hello from the Colorado, Colorado Springs Mission

Miramont Castle
This last week marked the end of my training!  I've been out for two transfers and no longer have to study for 3 hours every morning.  It's only 2 hours now.  I love my study time in the morning, don't get me wrong, but now we have more time to teach.  As I mentioned last week, we had another baptism.  She was so excited to get baptized and invited her entire family, which was a lot of non members who had lots of questions!  The service was great!  It's quite a process to fill a font!  It takes two hours and you can't leave while it's running.  Luckily the building we were in had a ping pong table which took up a lot of that time! 

This week, we got to go on exchanges again!  This time I was with Elder Esumei.  I went to their area and the best thing was they have a car!  I was stoked that I wouldn't have to bike all day!  It was going to be a really full day with lots of appointments and fun!  To our dismay, every single appointment we had, except for one, cancelled; including dinner.  The one appointment we did visit was with a woman who lives in what appears to be a small hospital that caters to those who are bed ridden.  She was so delighted to see us, and particularly me!  She asked where I was from and I told her California.  She lit up and said "I should have known.  You look like a ray of California sunshine!"  She was so sweet and we played some General Conference talks for her on her laptop because she couldn't watch it otherwise.  She made sure to tell Elder Esumei to bring me back next time he visits.

Turkey Cookies
One of the highlights for me this week was our dinner appointment on Saturday evening.  We had dinner with the Bakers.  They're a family in the ward that helped us teach lessons to the young girl we baptized two weeks ago.  They had invited the girl and her family to have dinner with us.  Between us and the two families we had so much fun together playing games, eating tons of pizza, and just enjoying each others company.  The kids made us little turkey cookies and we were teaching them how to throw a Frisbee.  We're teaching them the New Member lessons and helping their mom get a temple recommend so she can do ordinances for her family.

So our next baptism is set for the beginning of November and he's been a great missionary so far.  He's invited so many of his friends to church and actually discovered one of his friends is a recent convert who went less-active.  He set him straight and now he's planning on attending regularly again.  It's cool to see the Spirit of Christ at work with those you teach.  

Saturday night was when we would find out about the upcoming transfer.  I was so relieved that our Zone Leaders won’t be transferred and Elder Haskell and I will spend Thanksgiving together in the Academy Ward.  We were both so happy!  It was a great way to finish off the week!

5 things that made me smile:

Our District
1. I was the only one in my district to get the transfer predictions right!  Everyone I said was leaving got a call.  I'm going to miss them but our new district is going to have some pretty cool people.

2. We meet with one of our less active members each week to fellowship him and usually nothing comes out of it other than lunch and some games, but this last week he had so much fun with us he's starting to take interest in coming to church again.  It would be quite the feat if he started to come back again!

3. The investigator we baptized this weekend has two daughters 7 and 5.  They love it when we come by and like to tease us.  They always tell me that I have a mustache, and Elder Haskell has a beard.  They think it's so funny.

4. Our zone leaders were complaining that they have a mouse in their apartment.  So they bought a few rat traps and in 6 hours caught 7 rats.  They still hear them in their kitchen so apparently there are more.  They have them on video.

5. During dinner this week, we had cantaloupe wrapped in thinly sliced raw ham.  I always thought it was bad to eat raw meat!  
Raw Ham Face

I love you all so much!  I hope you're all enjoying yourselves and are preparing for the Holiday Season!  It feels like Christmas here already with how cold it's been.  You're all in my prayers!

God is Great!

Elder Gillingwater

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Another Good Week!


Hello from the Colorado, Colorado Springs Mission

So this week may not have been as exciting as the last week, but it was a good week none the less.  So some bad news the baptism this week had to be rescheduled until the first week of November.  He's still excited about going through with it; we just have to wait a little longer.  This week was Elder Haskell's birthday!  It's funny that my trainer is a year and a week younger than me!  We have such an awesome ward, they really care about Elder Haskell and I and make us feel loved and welcome.  We celebrated his birthday with the same family who threw me a party.  They made this incredibly awesome looking cake!  It was so rich!  It was made out of Peanut butter & Chocolate with a chocolate ganache.  She's an expert cake maker and wins the Public Library cake baking competition every year.  They treated us too well!  I'll send you a picture of the cake!  This weekend we got to watch General Conference and I thought how I was watching and listening to the same Prophets and Apostles you all were.  It made me feel close to home and that I'm really not that far away.  We watched the Saturday afternoon session at the church building and there were 2 people there, so it was pretty quiet.  It was a weird weekend because we weren't out teaching people all day.  We felt really lazy staying inside and watching Conference.  I loved all the sessions!  My goal now is to print out a few each week and analyze them so I really pull from them and can share messages from our modern prophet when we teach.  
Elder Haskell

So this week the missionaries in our Mission got to watch "Meet the Mormons" before it comes out in theaters.  It was a really cool movie!  They want us to be able to use the movie as a teaching tool and know what it's about.  It was really funny and inspiring, and would be a movie I think anyone would be comfortable watching.  I challenge you all to go and see it while it's in theaters, and try and invite your friends or family to watch it.  The more people watch it the opening weekend, the more theaters it will be put in and the longer it will run in theaters (which means more people will get to see it).  Proceeds go to charity if that helps convince the more difficult friends).  We have a baptism scheduled this weekend!  That one should go through just fine, and we will finish off the transfer strong!  This week is the last one in the transfer (only 5 weeks) and after this it's up for grabs whether I move to a different area or not.  Hopefully I will stay longer, I love it here.  But if the Lord wills me to go somewhere else, I just hope that area has a car!  If only I could predict the future!  Keep me in your prayers, and I'll do the same!  I love you all so much!  I always look forward to hearing from you guys!  Have an awesome and incredible week!  Don't forget to invite people!

5 things that made me smile:

1. Mustache deer: We were walking and saw this deer.  His eyebrow looks like a mustache, the other deer must be teasing him constantly.  

Mustache Deer

2. Meet the Mormons: It was a funny and inspiring movie.  Especially at the beginning where they take clips from movies or TV shows poking fun at the church, but using it to clear up misunderstandings.  It was really cool.

3. Elder Haskell's birthday: we had an awesome party with cake and presents and he got about as much candy as I did from his family.  We're swimming in candy now!

4. Our investigator that got baptized on Saturday invited us to her daughters 7th birthday party and it was a lot of fun!  Tons of pizza, a bounce house, and sharing the gospel! (Not necessarily in that order)

Our Latest Baptism
5. After I finished emailing last week, we walked across the parking lot to McDonald's. They are doing a promotion here that on Mondays Big Mac's are $1 to support the Broncos.  I don't really care for the broncos, but cheap food is more than enough for me!  On our way there we were stopped by a young man who had lots of questions for us and needed our help.  There wasn't a lot we could do but he was grateful for our assistance.  As we made our way to McDonald's a truck stopped by and recognized us as missionaries.  He was a member from a different ward and gave us money to buy our Big Mac's.  If we hadn't stopped and helped that young man, we wouldn't have been temporally blessed with even cheaper lunch! Hahaha

God is Great!

Elder Gillingwater

Sunday, October 5, 2014

What a Great Birthday!

 Hello from the Colorado, Colorado Springs Mission
Mount Evans Lake

This was another great week in the mission.  Somehow, our meal coordinator found out my birthday and notified all of the families who had signed up for dinner this week.  So every night they sang happy birthday to me and made really awesome desserts!  It was fantastic.  I got Grandma & Grandpa's package Thursday afternoon and am so excited to eat the homemade jam!  I have soooo much candy it's ridiculous!  My candy drawer in my desk is no longer big enough!

So, on Thursday, we spent the morning studying and then we taught one of our investigators about more Commandments (i.e. prayer, reading scriptures, following the prophet, Fasting).  He is so stoked about being baptized this week.  As long as everything works out, we will have it on this Friday.  Later that night he went with us to a member’s home for a lesson.  We watched the hour long Restoration movie and had pumpkin pie!  And they bought me a pair of really awesome snow gloves.  We had so much fun that night!  It was a great way to spend my birthday.

Then, it happened.  I got put on exchanges with Elder Walton.  He has to be the most socially awkward/clueless person I've yet to meet on my mission.  He is a genuinely nice person and can be pretty funny.  Anyways, our service Friday evening was to stain a members deck, which I've had lots of practice from staining our fences (Thanks Dad!).  I was working on one section while he was working on another.  When I caught up to where he was at, I looked at my progress and was thoroughly impressed.  I turned to look at his side and was in horror at the atrocity I saw.  It looked like someone had taken a deer and slaughtered it all over the deck, the house, concrete, her landscaping.  I almost screamed!  I felt so bad for how it looked.  Not even a minute later she came over to check on our progress.  There was absolutely nothing I could do.  I could tell she wasn't pleased, but she didn't say much.  I just kept apologizing.  I guess I should have taken charge a little more (Later I got the situation appeased and she thinks its funny now).  

Upper Black Lake
So, Saturday was the big day this week.  We helped a member move from our ward into a home in the neighboring ward, and went over to the stake center to start prepping for the baptism.  Exchanges were finally over!  We filled the font and got all the chairs set up, the young girl was so excited she couldn't stop jumping!  All of the sizes for the jumpsuits for me to wear in the font ranged from XL - 4XL.  Luckily they had one on the women's side that was smaller and fit better (they're unisex anyways).  We took some pictures and started the program.  I was a little nervous about baptizing her, but I knew it was going to be o.k.  It became time for the ordinance and I helped her get into the font.  I was showing her how she should have her hands and she just started trying to dunk herself into the water.  I was holding her up by my arm trying to tell her "Wait, I have to say a prayer first!"  Everyone watching chuckled a little, but I said the prayer and everything went smoothly!  Her mom was crying and I just really felt the spirit in that room.  I went back into the changing room to change and after a while my companion came in to say "Hurry up!  You're the last one and we've been waiting on you for 6 primary songs!"  I guess she changed really fast and everyone thought I was spending time fixing my hair hahaha.  The young girl got up at the end of her baptism and wanted to thank everyone for coming and helping her get baptized, it was the sweetest thing.  To top off a wonderful day, the family in our ward who does the "Hot Sauce" challenge, their son's birthday was the day after mine, so they signed up for dinner to take us both out for a birthday dinner.  Their son chose the restaurant Tucano's.  It's a Brazilian restaurant that was fantastic it's all you can eat, and the side dishes are buffet style, but servers come to your table and have a bunch of different types of meat on skewers and slide some onto your plate. I had Sirloin, filet mignon, turkey wrapped in bacon, briscuit, wings, sausages, roasted pineapple w/ brown sugar, and even chicken hearts!  It was such an awesome dinner!  We had so much fun talking and laughing with them that evening and afterwards they had homemade pumpkin pie and derby pie (like a cookie pie).  We were so full afterwards that I couldn't laugh without feeling like I was going to puke.  It was a completely fulfilling week, and I know this week is going to be the same.  I love you all so much!  I am having a wonderful time and hope you are all doing the same.  I love hearing your funny stories for the week.  
Stanley Canyon

Here are my top 5 moments.

1. Staining the deck (wasn't funny at the time, but it's funny now)

2. The young girl trying to baptize herself before we were ready.

3. Dinner at Tucano's.  Both their sons were making funny noises.  The 14 year old sounded like a squealing pig, and the 10 year old sounded like a baby that was crying incessantly.  It freaked one of our servers out!

4. The investigator who might be baptized this week, out of fun, likes to debate with my companion on commandments and quote Book of Mormon scriptures to mess with him.  It's funny to watch.

5. This week while playing capture the flag (Colorado Springs Zone vs. Fountain Zone) an elder and a sister were running at each other trying to tag each other and they slammed their heads together.  She split her chin open and had to go to a prompt care, and he almost passed out.  They keep making fun of each other now.

God is Great!

Elder Gillingwater