Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Week 81: Goodbye Bridgeport

     Hello everyone!  I've got big news from this week.  But first, I want to bear my testimony and declare my witness that I know that President Russell M. Nelson is a prophet of God.  It was confirmed to me as he spoke this morning and as he even in a news conference ministered one by one to the media.  His counsel is the Lord's counsel and his words are the Lord's words.  "The best is yet to come".

     The other big and exciting news is that tomorrow I will be transferred from Bridgeport, CT to Revere, MA.  When I found out Friday that I would be leaving, I was initially sad because of all the great things happening here in Bridgeport.  But, I will go where the Lord wants me to go.  I have truly come to know that President Miller is lead and guided by God in this mission and that he knows the best for me.  I am excited to serve so close to Boston and to work with my new companion, Elder Pulu.  I'll tell you all about him a little more next week when I actually meet him.

     Elder Warner and I have been so blessed.  We have loved serving with each other and witnessing the miracles God has blessed us with.  We are currently working with so many amazing people.  As I have said my "goodbye's" it has been eye opening to see how many people we have worked with over the last 3 months together.  There really is no work on earth more rewarding than missionary work.

     This week we had a super powerful lesson with Marjorie about temples.  Haitian people have some cultural concerns about working with dead people and so we were expecting the worst going into the lesson.  As we testified of the temple and explained to her why we have them, she said (in her broken English) "When you talk about temples, I feel the Spirit".  It was amazing to see the Spirit resolve any concerns she might of had right in front of us.  She is now preparing names for the temple so she can go after she is baptized.

     Also this week we were able to set a baptismal date with the whole Abilome family!  Caroline, Alexcia, and Brianna are all preparing to be baptized on February 3rd.  As we taught them the Plan of Salvation, Caroline was so amazed and happy about this new information that she had concerning her purpose in life.  Funny side note:  Because they cannot remember our names, they came up with nicknames for us.  Elder Warner is "Austin" and I am "Sean".

     Over the past couple of weeks, the Ochoa family who we have been teaching has become one of my favorite families on my mission.  A couple times a week we go there and have family home evening and teach them one of the lessons.  Eugenia, the mother is so determined and faithful to raise her family in the church.  She repeatedly says that she wishes she had never left the church and now is going to do all she can to remain strong and faithful.  She is such a great mother and I love all her kids.  If their father gives them permission, they will be baptized very soon, if not we will hope for a miracle!

     Over the past 4 1/2 months, I've grown very close to the members of the ward here and I am very grateful for their love and support, especially the Mitchell family.  I am going to miss them.  I've been blessed to serve in the Bridgeport Ward and am very excited to hear about the work that will continue to go on here.

     Thank you all for the love and support!  I'll let you know how Boston is next week.  Thank you to everyone that has sent birthday wishes as well.  I love you all!!

Elder Gutierrez
Birthday Party with the Mitchell's  - Banana Cream Pie

"The Last Supper" with the Mitchell's

Saying Goodbye to the Mitchell's

Caiden Abilome with Elder Gutierrez

Visiting Deb Smith

Birthday Dinner at the Brazilian Steakhouse with the Elders!

Saying Goodbye to the Ochoa Family

Spent P-day mastering the head stands

Bowling on P-day with the District

Birthday Tres Leches with Brother Gallardo

Saying Goodbye to Patrick

Family Home Evening with the Ochoa's

Family Home Evening with the Ochoa's and on exchanges with Elder Warner

Exchanges with Elder Warner - my fearless District Leader

Saying Goodbye to the District

Monday, January 8, 2018

Week 80: Snow Week!

     Hey Everyone!  It sure has been an interesting week as we got hit hard by a HUGE snow storm.  The temperatures have been very low all week, the current 30 degree temperature feels real warm!  Even with the storms, we were able to still have a great week.
     Our investigator, Marjorie, is one of the most amazing people I have ever taught.  Every time we teach her she is happier and happier.  She is willing to do everything to follow God in her life.  After we taught her the law of chastity, she ended things with her boyfriend and put a mattress on the floor in her living room so she could keep the commandment.  She was scheduled to be baptized this Saturday.  However, because she still lives in the same house as her old boyfriend, she cannot be baptized until one of them moves out.  The problem is neither of them can afford to move out as of right now.  We fasted with Marjorie this Sunday and we are hoping to see some huge miracles happen.  As soon as she lives alone, she will be baptized.
     A couple of weeks ago, Elder Warner was praying very hard that we would be able to find prepared people to teach.  As he was praying, he heard a voice clearly say "Maple Street".  A couple of days after this, we received a phone call from a man named, Angelo, who had just gotten out of prison and he wanted us to visit him.  His wife is a member of the church and he had taken the lessons before, but now he is determined to change his life and he wants to be baptized.  We asked him where he lives and he said, "Maple Street!"  We are going to start teaching Angelo this week and we are super excited to see him change his life around.
     We had a pretty long pause on our weeks work as the snow storm hit Thursday.  The wind was blowing SUPER hard and you could barely see ten feet in front of you.  We were red-dotted which means that you are not allowed to use your cars.  So Elder Warner and I decided to walk to one of our appointments.  It was a great decision.  We were able to have such a great and fun lesson with the Ochoa family.  They are the best.  We talked to them about baptism and they would all love to be baptized, but their father will not give permission.  As we were talking to Sister Ochoa, she told us about her relationship with her husband and how things were not going well.  She decided to get divorced and is currently in the process.  She is the most amazing women and she has so much faith.  We are super blessed to know them and we are hoping that their father's heart will be softened soon so that Donald and Eileen can be baptized.
     Well that's all for this week!  Thank you everyone for the love and support.  With the passing of President Thomas S. Monson this week, I wish to bear my testimony to you all that he is a Prophet of God.  His words are God's words.  His example of service and charity have been great blessings to me and I am so grateful to have grown up during his time as the prophet.  I can't wait to see him again one day.  "The principles of living greatly include to face trouble with courage, disappointment with cheerfulness, and trial with humility."  - Thomas S. Monson

Elder Gutierrez

Red Dotted During the HUGE Snow Storm
Our new friend

Snow is Coming!

Buried in Snow

Freezing Temperatures

Opportunities for Service Now

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Week 79: Christmas, New Years, and Vernice's Baptism

     Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  The past two weeks have been amazing and so much has happened.  I'll do my best to update you on all that happened.

     First off, Vernice Hill was baptized!  I am so amazed at all the miracles that occurred so Vernice could be baptized.  She was able to be interviewed by President Miller just the day before the baptism.  We were able to plan the whole baptismal service in two days and the fellowship she received from the members was amazing.  Vernice is a pretty shy and reserved person, but we have seen her gain confidence and become so much happier as we have met with her.  On December 30th, at her baptism, she was so happy.  There was a new light within her which came from Jesus Christ.  She has a strong but simple testimony and I could not be happier for her and who she has become since Elder Sprehn and I first met her in October.

     Elder Warner and I also had an amazing Christmas together, one I will never forget.  On Christmas Eve, we were making one last visit to one of our investigators.  When we got to her home, she had a friend over named Tyrone who wanted to ask us some questions about what we believed.  Elder Warner and I began to teach him the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  As we did Tyrone kept interrupting us and trying to argue with us over irrelevant Christian topics.  Elder Warner and I were both getting a little fed up as he wouldn't listen and was not being teachable.  We then both began to testify with boldness that Jesus Christ had been born, died, and lives today.  We testified that he had restored the fullness of His gospel through the prophet, Joseph Smith and that his kingdom is on the earth again.  We plainly told him that he could either continue in darkness or read/pray about the Book of Mormon and have peace in his life.  Because of our boldness, the Spirit filled the room where we were and he began to listen and his heart began to soften.  He agreed to read and pray about the Book of Mormon.  As we left that home, on Christmas Eve, it really hit me that there truly is nothing else on earth I could have been doing at that time.  I was spending Christmas Eve night testifying of Jesus Christ and His restored gospel.  This will forever be one of my favorite Christmas memories.

     Christmas day was also very fun as the Bridgeport Spanish Elders and us had a huge breakfast feast!  It was a great blessing to be able to talk to my family and I am so grateful for all the sacrifices they have and are continuing to make for me to be on a mission.

     On Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve Sundays, we had many of our investigators attend church and we are so excited for how great they are all doing.  Marjorie came to church for her 4th time this last week and everything is aligning to have her baptized on her scheduled day, January 13th.  As she started to live the law of chastity in the past two weeks, her boyfriend decided to leave her and he will be moving out of her apartment soon.  She will be struggling financially because of this, but she is doing all that she can to be baptized.  She is so inspiring and had been one of my favorite investigators to teach.  The Abilome family has come to church 2 weeks in a row now and they are doing great too.  In our last lesson with them, as we were talking about baptism, one of their friends walked in who was a minister of a Baptist church!  We were able to finish the lesson  the way that we planned and still invite them to be baptized.  That was a lesson I will never forget.

     Things could not be better!  Our zone is working extremely hard and we are seeing miracles.  Last week we had a zone goal to hand out 293 Books of Mormon, we were able to hand out 299!  (In 10 or below degree weather most of the week!)  I am very excited for all the things that will happen this year.  I have many goals for myself and I invite you all to pray and ponder about a goal that you can work on throughout the week that will draw you to the Savior and deepen your testimony in His restored gospel.  I love you all!

Elder Gutierrez

Vernice Hill's Baptism - December 30, 2017

Exchanges with Elder Andersen

Marjorie's Birthday Party

Birthday Gifts

They got us . . . .

Ward Christmas event at a nursing home, our buddy Ted.

Visit from Keith Moon!

Teaching the Ochoa's kids

Sister Ochoa's tamales on Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve at the Mitchell's Home

Christmas Day Feast - Elder Warner, Elder Kluger, and Elder Warner

Merry Christmas!

Skyping the Family

Vernice Hill's Baptism - December 30, 2017

Teaching Marjorie

Monday, December 25, 2017

Week 78: Merry Christmas Skype

     We love our missionary!!  It was so good to hear his voice and see him in person.  He is loving his mission!  We were touched by his Christmas gift.  He sent his brother, Levi, a name tag along with the teaching pamphlets and things that he can study to prepare for his mission.  He told Levi to try on the name tag with a white shirt.  It was surreal to see him with that name tag on.  Next year he will be the one serving during Christmas.  It was special to hear his brother encourage him
to forge on with submitting his papers and the life changing experience that it has been. My favorite part of the call is our missionary saying the family prayer.  It is extra special to hear him praying for his siblings and other family members. 
     I am so thankful for the Daniel and Stacy Mitchell family that took the missionaries in on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day!  They have a special place in our heart.  Brother Mitchell told me that Elder Gutierrez is an awesome missionary and has had great success in their area because he and his companion are extremely hard workers and obedient.  It is so great to hear.  He mentioned that they will be sad when he gets transferred from their area.  I am so grateful for these ward members that treat the missionaries like their own children. 

- Last Christmas Skype in the books

- Heidi Gutierrez
Best Christmas Present for a Missionary Momma!!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Week 77: Make Room for the Savior

    Hello everyone, only one more week until Christmas!  Make sure to #LightTheWorld and look for every opportunity that you can to serve those around you.  Your family members, your co-workers, or even complete strangers.  This is such a special time of the year because the light of Christ is so evident all around us and being a missionary for the Lord only makes it better.
    Elder Warner and I had a super cool Christmas miracle happen this week that I am super excited to tell you all about.  Early in the week we received a media referral for a lady named Caroline for a free Bible.  We called and texted her and she sent us a text saying that she just wanted us to mail the Bible because she was too busy for us to stop by.  Well of course we didn't mail the Bible and just stopped by a couple of days later.  We thought we were going to have a bit of an awkward interaction, but to quite the contrary . . .Caroline was so excited to see us and immediately invited us in.  She had all 3 of her daughters come down (Alexia, Brianna, and Kaiden) and we were able to teach the whole family the Restoration.  Caroline was so amazed that we had set apart two whole years to serve God.  She loved our message and we had such a great lesson.  They were unable to attend church on Sunday but later in the day they were able to attend a Christmas Pageant our ward was putting on.  They were fellow-shipped great by the ward.  They are a huge miracle to us and we are exciting to start teaching them.
     Things are still going well with Marjorie and she is progressing super well.  The only thing holding her back is her boyfriend because he is not sure if he wants to get married yet.  We set a baptismal date with her this week for January 13th.  For the past little while we have been trying to teach her two step-kids and her grandson, but they are a little too crazy.  I'll explain:  Marjorie and the three boys were able to come to church for the second time this week.  During the third hour, we heard one of the boys, Hervince (6) screaming in the hall.  We went into the hall to check it out and we saw him running around like a maniac with a stressed out primary teacher following behind him.  We stopped him in the hall and settled him down and told him that he had to go back to the primary room where all the other primary kids were watching a Christmas movie.  We sat in the back of the room to make sure he was going to behave and out of nowhere he started yelling and lets just say that what he was saying was not good . . .All the primary kids were shocked by what he said and so we had to take him out of the primary room and walk around the halls with him until church ended.  Great parent training. Ha, Ha!  So we are super excited about how Marjorie is doing, but the kids not so great.  We are going to just focus on her until she is baptized and then we will focus on the three boys.
     Things really are going so great here in Bridgeport.  Our district leader has set some awesome goals with us to hand out hundreds of #LightTheWorld pass along cards before Christmas.  We are seeing great things and we are hoping that Vernice will continue to progress so that she can be baptized next Saturday, keep her in your prayers!  Thank you to everyone that supports me.  I love you all, talk to you again on Christmas!

Elder Gutierrez
Christmas Card Picture

Christmas Card

Our scrappy Christmas tree - famous elf hat in the backgroud

Temple Trip to the Hartford Temple with recent convert Zhong

Teaching with Patrick, Marjorie and the boys!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Week 76: #LightTheWorld

     Hey everybody!  Elder Warner and I have had a great week in the frozen tundra of Bridgeport, CT!  The snow finally came this week and the weather has gotten a lot colder.  Our investigators are doing well and we are working with some super awesome new people that I am very excited to tell you about.
     Last week, I mentioned a lady named Marjorie that we picked up as a new investigator.  She came to church with her 3 kids/step-kids.  Again this week things went very, very well with Marjorie.  We began teaching her 3 kids:  Rooby (12), Derby (10), and Irvince (6).  You could definitely say that they are a little "wild", but we are loving teaching them all.  They were unable to come to church this week, but Marjorie has shown great desires to become closer to God.  She even cooked us some awesome Haitian "legume" after a lesson this week!  She's the best!
     Wednesday was a super awesome day for Elder Warner as we got to go to the Hartford Temple to see one of his recent converts receive her endowments.  We had a great trip to the temple.  As I was thinking of my own converts, I gave a couple of them a call and found out some great news about Tony Collazo from Worcester.  He got engaged to his girlfriend Krissia who introduced him to the church and last week they both received their endowments.  Also, they will be getting sealed together for time and eternity on January 20th.  What a great joy it is to see people you taught in the beginning of your mission thriving in the gospel and continuing to have their lives changed.  I am so excited for Tony and his fiance.  They remind me a lot of my own parents story.
     We were going through the ward list visiting all the members we didn't know and saw a huge miracle.  We stopped by the home of the Ochoa family.  When we rang the doorbell, a lady came out on the porch of the second floor, saw us, and said, "Elders!"  She ran down to the door to let us in.  We were both so excited.  It turned out to be Sister Ochoa who is a life long member, but hasn't been very active for the past 10 years.  She used to take herself and her 4 kids to the Spanish Ward in Bridgeport but her children didn't like to go to the Spanish speaking ward.  Her husband is not a member and so over time she just stopped taking her kids.  We later found out that just earlier this week she had been telling her oldest son that he needed to be a good example to his three younger sisters and that got her thinking about what kind of example she was being for her children.  She realized that she needed to improve and prayed that God would help her to be a good example to her kids.  She then told us how we were an answer to her prayers.  This Sunday they all came to church and loved it!  Donald (10), her oldest son, is unbaptized because his father doesn't agree with the church but we hope to start teaching him soon.
     Things really could not be any better.  We continue to find many new people to teach each week.  Vernice is still doing great and we set a baptismal date with her this week for December 30th.  She has been stuck in New York due to family problems, but she continues to show great desires.  Claudette is doing well too and we are striving to see her baptized on December 30th as well.  The Lord is blessing us abundantly and we are so excited.  Remember to #LightTheWorld this Christmas season, it really is such a special time!  Love ya all.

Elder Gutierrez
Elder Warner and Elder Gutierrez #LightTheWorld


Saying Goodbye to the old District

Our Zion Beds

First Day of Snow in Bridgeport, CT

Sister Matambo's nursing graduation

Marjorie's Legume!

#LightTheWorld Snowman Style

Preview of Our Christmas Card . . . 

Bob Womboldt's Baptism from Amherst, MA (Elder Little and Elder Poleman)

Hartford Temple Trip with Elder Warner's recent convert to receive her endowments