Monday, August 14, 2017

Week 59: MIRACLES

     Ether 12:12 "For if there be no faith among the children of men, God can do no miracle among them; wherefore, he showed not himself until after their faith".  This week was one of the most miracle filled weeks of my mission!  As I said in last weeks email, we as a zone set some HUGE goals for this week, specifically in the key indicators of new investigators and investigators at sacrament meeting.  Our goals for this week added up to 35 new investigators and 23 investigators at sacrament meeting.  Pretty stretchy goals.  Though with a lot of prayers, a zone fast, and acknowledging our complete dependency on the Lord, we were able to find 37 new investigators, which is the most investigators ever found in one week in our zone in over a year!  We didn't quite reach our sacrament meeting goal, but we definitely improved our weekly average.
     Now numbers aren't everything.  The main focus of our zone's weekly goals was to stretch and grow the faith in our zone.  At times as missionaries, we can get into big slumps where we are doing everything right, but we are not stretching ourselves.  This week truly strengthened my testimony that God our Eternal Father is the leader and driving force of this work and we as his set apart missionaries are just along for the joyful ride.  WE are so blessed to witness miracles and truly see peoples' lives change through His son's sacrifice.  Countless times this week we heard stories and talked to people that have such difficult and overwhelming trials.  I've never felt such great sorrow and compassion for others.  I cannot thank God enough for the opportunity I have to forget about myself and serve others at this time.
     I don't have enough time to share all the miracles we saw this week.  But here are a few.

1)  On Tuesday, Elder Harris and I went on exchanges with the Pittsfield Elders.  I was pretty nervous because this was my first exchange as a zone leader and I really wanted to train, inspire, and bless the life of the missionary I was with.  I got to spend the day with Elder Murray who is fresh from the MTC, less than a week fresh!  I was very excited to see miracles with him being a brand new missionary.  We set a goal to find 2 new investigators together and by the time 2:00 pm came, we had already reached our goal!  The whole day was super fun and it was just the beginning of a week full of answered prayers.  Elder Harris and his companion for the day were also able to pick up 2 new investigators, equaling 4 new investigators in Pittsfield in just one day!  That's pretty unheard of.

2)  Elder Harris and I had stopped by a potential investigators house named Rolline several times this week without any luck.  We decided to give her one last try on Thursday.  We knocked on her door and she opened with tears running down her face.  She hesitantly invited us in and we began talking to her.  She quickly fell apart and told us about her struggles.  She is a young single mother who's husband died exactly 3 years earlier from a random heart attack.  She has five children and has been really struggling to raise her kids alone.  Her extended family has been very terrible to her and she really has nobody she can trust.  As she was telling us her overwhelming struggles I was thinking to myself, "What could I, a young 20 year old spoiled kid from Utah possibly do for her?"  Then she told us the most amazing thing!  She said that right before we had knocked on her door she was "talking" to her husband trying to find some bit of comfort in her situation.  Then I realized that I was there at that very moment because God trusted Elder Harris and I to share with her hope and the peace that comes from the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We are really praying that Rolline continues to meet with us so that she can have some peace in her life.  I'll keep you all updated on her!

3)  Wednesday night, we were out street contacting and ran into an 18 year old kid named Elijah.  We asked him if he believed in Jesus Christ, he said that he did but he really didn't know anything about Him.  After talking to him for a while, he was really excited to hear our message.  We walked over to his house and began to share the Restoration.  He loved our message and was really soaking it all in!  Afterwards, we asked him if he knew how to pray and if he would say the closing prayer.  He told us that he had never prayed before in all his life and that he didn't know how.  We taught him how to pray and then he said the most powerful prayer.  One sentence in to his prayer, he just stopped and we sat there for about 2 minutes in silence, then he closed.  The spirit was so, so strong at that time and there is no doubt that he will never forget the connection he had with His Father in Heaven that night.

4)  Because Elder Harris and I had 2 exchanges and several meetings this week , we were behind on our lofty goal of finding 10 new investigators this week.  Everyday we prayed to see miracles and that the Lord would help us reach our goal.  On Saturday, with only 1 day left to find our investigators, we were still pretty behind on our goal.  It started to seem like there was no way we were going to reach our goal.  That is until the Lord placed in our path a family of 5!  We were tracting earlier last week and found a man named Raymond who was interested.  We stopped by his house Saturday night and it turns out he has a lot of kids over the age of 8.  He invited us in and we were able to teach his whole family!  We ended the week with finding 14 new investigators!  #Miracles

     Well that's all I have time for, I truly know that miracles are real and that they happen all around us each and every day.  It can be pretty easy to pass them by and not acknowledge them, but they are there.  I'm so grateful that the Lord heard and answered my prayers and that the faith of our zone was truly increased this week.  He truly knows and loves each and every one of us.  I love you all and I love this work!

Love,
Elder Gutierrez

Elder Murray's first "Fluffernutter" a New England favorite, peanut butter with marshmallow creme sandwich

On exchanges, we made it out to Vermont!

Exchanges in Pittsfield with Elder Murray

Billboard in Pittsfield, MA

Look what I found in Springfield, MA!  Utah State Aggies on the back window with Utah plates.  No sure who it belongs to.

Sharing the Book of Mormon with everyone!

Beautiful Butterfly

Found me a puppers

Elder Gutierrez and Elder Harris

   

Friday, August 11, 2017

Week 58: First Week in Ludlow

     Hello everyone!  I have officially survived my first couple of days here in Springfield, MA so I think I'm going to make it! ;)  But seriously this is the best area in the mission.  The work is fantastic, the members are outstanding, and I have one of the most dedicated amazing companions.  Elder Harris and I have already seen so many miracles together and we are having a great time.
     My last couple of days in Amherst were a good time.  Elder Little and I got along so well and I am very grateful for everything he was able to teach me and help me through last transfer.  A member even told us on our last day together, "You two are the best companionship I've ever seen come out of Amherst".  Hopefully our investigators there will continue to do well.  In the coming weeks, I'll be able to go on exchanges in Amherst and see a lot of them again, which is pretty cool.
     I'll tell you all a little bit more about my companion and new area.  Elder Harris is from Lindon, Utah.  He will have been on his mission for a year this Thursday.  He loves to sing and play tennis.  I must say when he sings in the shower it is quite impressive.  He is a very driven missionary and he truly knows his purpose.  In the short time we have been together, he has already taught me so much about being a leader and how to best help other missionaries.  Elder Harris has only been in Ludlow for one transfer and so we are most likely going to stay together for a while, hopefully!
     Our area Ludlow is so amazing.  Our area is kinda weird, 9/10 of the time we are in the city of Springfield working.  There is a ward and chapel in Springfield but the city of Springfield is in our ward and not the Springfield ward.  It is super weird.  So when I say Ludlow, I really mean Springfield.  We are teaching a TON of people right now and so I won't mention names until some of them start progressing more.  We have seen so many great things happen this week.  For example, we found this awesome apartment complex where literally eight out of ten people are interested.  In the past three days alone, we have found 15+ potential investigators and have picked up 4 of them as new investigators.
     Something exciting that we have going on this week is that we are trying to help the Zone to develop more faith in the work so we have set some HUGE goals with each of the companionships.  Every companionship has set a goal of how many investigators they think the Lord could help them find this week and how many investigators the Lord could help them have at church this next Sunday.  The averages have been lower in the past transfer and so the goals we have set are actually more than doubling what has been the norm.  We really are going to see miracles this week and I am so excited.  Please pray that we will all be able to reach our goals!
     Well that's pretty much it for this week.  I'm so thankful for everyone that has helped me thus far on my mission serving the Lord.  I know that this work is so, so important and it truly breaks my heart to see so many people who are without hope, love, or any faith in this city.  The Lord knows that the Gospel is needed and I am very grateful that I get to help Him out, even if it is really in a small way.  I love you all, have a great week!

Love,
Elder Gutierrez

Elder Gutierrez and his new companion, Elder Harris Ludlow area Zone Leaders

Elder Little and I holding 3 day old kittens.

UMASS Cacti

Last Night in Amherst #smores

Goodbye, Amherst!

Goodbye, Elder Little

Playing pool with Elder Harris

Monday, July 31, 2017

Week 57: Goodbye Amherst!

     One thing I quickly learned about the mission life is that you can never predict what will happen when the transfer texts come in.  Friday morning we received a text from the AP's saying that I had received a leadership call.  Elder Little and I thought for sure that I would be training and that he would be transferred but we were wrong! . . . .I'll be headed to Ludlow, MA which is not far at all from where I am now.  I'm really bummed to be leaving Amherst and Elder Little after only one transfer, but I am excited as well to go to Ludlow and serve with Elder Harris.  I will also now be serving as a Zone Leader and I am grateful for the new opportunity to stretch myself and become a better missionary.  I know my new companion fairly well and I'm stoked to be able to serve with him.
     Things went well this week here in Amherst and we were able to find a ton of great new potentials and investigators.  Also we were finally able to see, Shyam and Amanda, two of our investigators that we hadn't seen in weeks.  Both of them are doing great!  We hope to set a baptismal date with Shyam soon.  The reason we hadn't been able to get a hold of him for so long was that he accidentally dropped his cell phone into a swimming pool so he had no way to get into contact with us.  By a miracle, we were able to get into his apartment complex which is usually locked.
     While tracting this week, we found 3 new investigators; Dynasty, Sharon, and Kim.  All three of them are single women and both Dynasty and Sharon are single mothers raising their children.  Dynasty was really open to our message because she has been searching for a way to be able to build her faith in Christ.  She has a sweet little boy, Aiden, who has some mental challenges and at times she is pretty lost while raising him.  She told us she would be baptized if she knew the church was true and we are really hoping that we can get her to church this upcoming Sunday.  Sharon is a young 24 year old women with two kids.  She was very open to our message and after the Restoration she said, "Why haven't I heard this before?!"  She works as a veterinarian technician (sweet connection there!) and is very busy, but we are hoping to be able to get her to church this upcoming Sunday as well.
     This week we had an appointment set up with Al but it fell through because he ended up in the hospital!  Al has had some serious heart problems the past couple of years and he had some stomach pains this week.  Eventually, they got so bad that he had to go to the hospital and yesterday we were able to go and give him a blessing.  He was very thankful for the blessing and we really hope he recovers quickly.  Because of his heart, we think he is really wanting to change his life around.  He's been progressing well and we hope to set a baptismal date with him too.
     Things have been going great in Amherst and I'm grateful to have been able to serve in this area even though it was a short stay.  Elder Little has been such a great companion to me and he is going to continue to do great work here with his new companion, Elder Rivera.  Funny story:  We told one of the members that the new Elder coming spoke Spanish and she said, "Finally, this time we got a fake out!"  That's my life out here. :)  Thank you for all the support and love.  My new address is 
45 Willow St.  #505  Springfield, MA  01103.

Love, 
Elder Gutierrez

The District

Low Blood Sugar Runs

Weekly Planning in the UMASS Art Building

UMASS Art Building

We Got A Refund .....;)

Milkshakes & Studies

Our Investigator, Amanda

Our Sweet Car, Fondly Named Beatriz

Sister Quinteros, One of Our Ward Missionaries

Dinner with Elder Erik and Sister Jane Larsen

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Leadership Call Letter From President Miller

                                                                                                                                 July 27, 2017

Dear Elder Gutierrez,

     You are hereby called to serve as a Zone Leader. You should know that this call comes from the Lord. He trusts you in this sacred calling and responsibility. I also place great trust in you to care for the well-being of the missionaries assigned to work in your zone, and to help the work of salvation for the souls of men move forward. Zone Leaders are expected to be strictly obedient, diligent, humble and effective in their work. You were chosen because of your reliance on the direction of the Spirit, and the respect you have gained from others in the mission.  Your companion will help you as you learn to supervise, teach and inspire others in your zone. Remember that your most effective teaching is done through example.  I congratulate you on this sacred calling and look forward to working closely with you.

With Love,
President A. Todd Miller

Massachusetts Boston Mission

Monday, July 24, 2017

Week 56: Tracting, Tracting, Tracting

     Hello family and friends!  It's been a successful week in Amherst.  This week was very busy and I had a great time enjoying the blessings of being a missionary.
     Tuesday was a very fun and full day.  We had to wake up super early in the morning to drive across Massachusetts for a Zone Conference.  Again and again I am amazed at the love and support that President and Sister Miller give to us missionaries, they are so amazing.  At the Zone Conference, we received some great trainings on our purpose and what our vision should be as missionaries for the Lord.  This impacted me greatly and I thought a lot of what my vision of my mission was and what I wanted it to be.  Earlier this week, I had read Elder Ballard's talk "Return and Receive" from last General Conference.  His talk focused on the great importance of setting goals in our lives and accomplishing those goals.  With all this great counsel I had received and with God's help, I was able to set some very personal and meaningful goals that I hope to accomplish in my last year as a missionary.  I'm very, very excited to see how the Lord will help me to accomplish these goals and hopefully along the way I can bless some of His children.
     Wednesday, I got to go on another exchange with Elder Schrader, from Twin Falls, ID.  (We just keep following each other on the mission!)  We had a great day together in Amherst.  We were able to have a really successful lesson with Al at a members home.  We talked to Al about the importance of daily prayer and scripture study.  We promised him great blessings by making the effort to each pray and study every day.  So far, he is keeping his commitment well!  Elder Schrader and I had a great day!
     Elder Little and I decided that this week we had better do a lot of finding because none of our investigators were doing very well and almost none of them are progressing.  So we have been hitting the streets and knocking on doors like crazy!  We haven't see too much success quite yet but we definitely have some promising potentials.  One of the investigators we picked up from tracting was a 15 year old boy named Sebastian.  Sebastian is just a good kid and he was very open and interested in the Restoration.  We hope to see him do well and I'll keep you all updated on how he is doing!
    Well, thank you so much for all you do to support me!  I know this Gospel is true, Jesus Christ lives and he is always extending his arms toward us.  Love you all!

Love,
Elder Gutierrez

Milk Shake Run with Elder Little

First Time Eating Lobster!  It was pretty good.

All geared up and ready to eat LOBSTER!

"The Boys" at Zone Conference 

Look who found me!  Elder Larsen, Steve Larsen's brother, from California is serving in my area.  We met up at Zone Conference.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Week 55: Lydia was baptized!

     Hey everyone!  Another P-day has arrived and another week has passed.  Time is going by quickly and things are going decently here.  A lot of our investigators aren't doing do great but we are really hoping things will all work out soon.
    We haven't heard from Shyam in over a week and we aren't too sure what happened to him.  Amanda has some real crazy things going on in her personal life so we are hoping we can help out in some way.  It would definitely help if you could all keep her in your prayers.
    On the good side though, Al is doing great!  We had a lesson with Al on Friday.  We taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ and invited him to commit to meeting with us twice a week.  A problem he has had in the past has been keeping commitments.  He always had an excuse about why he cannot do something.  When we extended the commitment, he began to ramble reasons why he wouldn't be able to and suddenly he stopped.  We literally watched the Spirit change his heart right in front of us and he said, "Wait, what am I talking about, yes I can do that".  It was incredible!!  We have a great lesson set up with Al tomorrow and we are real excited with his new commitment to change his life around.
     Wednesday we also saw a pretty great miracle when we were on exchanges with the Ludlow Elders.  I had a great day with Elder Neilson in the Ludlow area.  Elder Neilson is entering his last few weeks as a missionary and it is evident that he has learned a lot as a missionary.  We mainly got poured on all day, but even with the bad weather, we were able to teach some great lessons and meet a lot of new people who are interested in learning more about the Gospel.  Elder Little got to spend the day with Elder Harris also in the Ludlow area.  They were out tracting at the end of the day and said they had been getting good luck with yellow houses so they knocked on the door of every yellow house they saw.  On one of the last houses they knocked on, a younger girl answered and said, "Oh, hey, it's you guys!"  They asked her if she knew them and she said that she had met with missionaries in the past and that her mother was an inactive member who had served a mission when she was younger.  They were able to teach her the Restoration and she was really interested.  BUT. . . here's the miracle. . . she said she would be moving to Amherst that Sunday to go to UMASS!!  What are the odds of that?  So her name is Sobeydi and we hope to start teaching her here this week!  Pretty cool.
     So my last week in Warwick, we had a pretty amazing miracle happen where one of the YSA members brought a lady that he did not know to church.  In my last week in Warwick, I was able to teach this lady, Lydia, a couple of times and she always had a great spirit about her.  This week I was informed that she would be getting baptized!  Saturday morning Elder Little and I were able to drive down to Warwick and see Lydia's baptism.  It was a great experience and she was definitely prepared for the Gospel.  She learned quickly and has shown so much faith.  It was great to see the change in her life.  I'm very grateful that I got to participate in her conversion.  It was also good to see Elder Phillipsen and Elder Blum again.  They are still working with Eddie and Dakota and said that the work is going fantastic.  I also got to see Dakota and Lisa at the baptism which was great.
     It's been fun and busy week.  Thank you all so much for all that you do and for the support I receive.  I'm so grateful to be a missionary and to be serving the Lord at this time.  I love you all, have a good week!

Love,
Elder Gutierrez

Elder Phillipsen, Lydia, Elder Blum, and Elder Gutierrez - Lydia's Baptism July 15, 2017 in Warwick

Caught a snake while tracting!

Lesson and Dinner with our recent convert, Audrey.

Exchanges with Elder Neilson

Luxe Burger on Exchanges

Dakota and Lisa at Lydia's Baptism
Elder Little with Sister Blair's Maine Coon Cat

Elder Little and Elder Gutierrez with Sister Blair's Maine Coon Cats

Monday, July 10, 2017

Week 54: Lame Bull?

       Hey everyone!  This week I had my first "last" as I had my last 4th of July in the mission field.  With that in mind, I have had a great desire to keep learning and growing as much as I can while I am on my mission.  We were able to pick up some fun new investigators this week and we are really seeing some great progress in those that we are working with.  Amherst is a great area and I'm excited to be here.
     Some big news from Warwick:  Lydia, the last investigator we were able to pick up while I was there is going to be baptized this upcoming Saturday (July 15th)!  I was able to teach her two times.  She has been progressing so well and so quickly and I was very excited to here about her baptism.
     Here in Amherst, we have some great and exciting things coming up as well.  Our investigator, Amanda, came to church for the second time this week and she is looking on track for her baptismal date of July 22nd.  It has been so great to teach her because she has had a ton of trials and is now beginning to understand the reasons for them (which is no small task for anyone).  This week we were also able to set a baptismal date with our new investigator, Shyam.  He is such a great kid and I love teaching him.  He is pretty busy so it's hard to meet with him, but hopefully all will continue to go well.
     One of the great stories we have this week came from some media referrals we received.  A media referral is when somebody orders a Bible or Book of Mormon and we are notified to deliver it to them.  On Thursday, we received two media referrals, one for a man named Lame Bull and another for a woman named Rising Moon.  At first Elder Little and I thought that somebody was playing a prank on us.  But sure enough when we pulled up to the home of the address we received, there was a woman in the driveway all decked out in Native American clothing.  We started talking to her and she said that some sister missionaries spoke to her and her husband in a Dunkin Donuts in New Hampshire.  She told us that she was really interested in learning more about what we believe.  She said her husband wasn't too interested but we set up an appointment with her for Sunday!  On Sunday, we taught her the Restoration at a Dunkin Donuts and she loved it!  She told us that she grew up Episcopal and stopped going to church because she wasn't learning anything new.  She was excited to begin reading the Book of Mormon and learn new things from us.  She is not sure if she is Native American because she was adopted, but her husband is 100% Cheyenne Indian.  They make and sell genuine clothing and jewelry for a living.  She was very fun to teach and we are excited to see where things will go!
     Another new and interesting investigator we picked up this week was Al.  Al was taught by missionaries before about a year ago.  He doesn't really have a home and for the most part lives behind the local grocery store.  He's a great guy and has been to church many, many times.  A member we had dinner with invited him over and he told us that he has been thinking about being baptized.  We are going to meet with him this week and get things going on him being baptized!  I'll be sure to let you all know what happens.
     Funny story from this week:  Our ward had a super fun BBQ for the 4th of July and we were able to have two investigators come!  Amanda and Bob.  Apparently, they new each other previously because they lived in the same apartment complex.  While we were watching some fireworks, Bob asked Amanda out!  One of our investigators asked out the other investigator, it was so weird !!!!  She shut him down and then he leaned over to Elder Little and said, "I bet you'd have a better chance".  It was so funny, we were all laughing.
     Last thing, today for p-day, we were able to go to the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass!  It was a lot of fun and Elder Little and I even got our name tags signed by former NBA player, Sean Elliot.  When he was signing our tags, he asked, "How's the mission going?"  which was pretty sweet!  He's from Arizona so he probably know a little about the church.  Well it's been a great week and we are seeing exciting things happening.  I'm so thankful to be a missionary and to be in the Lord's service.  I'm very grateful to live in a country that has been prepared by the hands of God to be a free land so that I can worship Him.  We are all so very blessed and I invite you all to count your blessings this week!  Love ya!

Love,
Elder Gutierrez

Name Tags Signed by Sean Elliot

P-Day at the NBA Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA

Kevin Durrant #21

Ready for the Rebound Larry Bird

Boston Celtics - My favorite

Wall of Michael Jordan's Shoes

Hanging with Michael Jordan

Taller than Muggsy Bogues

Taking Over the UMASS Campus

Look what I found at the Ward 4th of July BBQ

4th of July BBQ

Chicken Roosting on my Head

Our investigator, Bob

Workin' with Elder Little in Amherst, MA