Monday, October 31, 2016

Week 18: "It has a pool?!"

Dear Family and Friends,
     HAPPY HALLOWEEN.  This week was fantastic!  A lot of great things happened.  First a funny story:  Elder Weber and I were showing a youth's non-member friend pictures from the Hartford Temple.  When she saw a picture with the baptismal font she yelled out, "It has a pool?!"  We all were laughing pretty hard and she was pretty confused.
     After months of praying and fasting, finally Julia (Worcester) went through with faith and got baptized this Saturday!  I got a text on Friday morning saying that Julia had decided to be baptized despite her family's opinion.  So Elder Weber and I got permission to drive up to Worcester to see her baptism.  What a very strong and tangible spirit was felt as Julia was baptized and bore her testimony afterwards.  She has taught me so much about trials and how with our Lord's help anything is possible.  She's going to be a fantastic, faithful member her whole life, no doubt.
     This week we finally taught and picked up two new investigators!  Tony and Cheryl Clarizio.  Cheryl's brother is Sister Cimmino's husband (non-member) in the ward.  We got introduced to them through Sister Cimmino because Tony had some recent heart problems so we had the opportunity to give him a blessing.  On Tuesday, he invited us over to help him move some furniture and then to have dinner with he and his wife.  We were on exchanges so Elder Tilly (such a great missionary) and I had a fantastic visit with Tony and Cheryl and taught them the Restoration.  They both said they would read and pray to know if the Book of Mormon was true.  It was so great to teach a solid lesson again.
     I learned so much from Elder Tilly in one day, his story is so amazing!  He is 26 years old and he was converted 2 years ago.  He had already graduated from college and owned his own business when he left on his mission.  He is such a great example to me of putting the Lord first in our lives and really serving the Lord.  His family still is not supportive in any way and he continues to serve with all he's got.  I am so thankful for missionaries like him who help and inspire me to be better everyday as I strive to build His kingdom.
     Sadly, we got a text from Tony later this week saying that they were no longer interested in the Mormon church and they were happy being Catholic.  Though we hope to stay in contact with them as much as possible and we are trusting that the Lord will help us be able to teach them again soon. Keep them in your prayers!
     This week was also the ward Halloween trunk or treat party and for our trunk we made a missionary!  Ha ha!!  It turned out pretty great and the members here are so fun.  I'm so thankful for the ward here.

Elder Gutierrez
Julia's Baptism

Julia's Baptism (Worcester)  with Elder Stewart and Elder Gutierrez

Patriots Hall of Fame #BroncosForLife

Elder Tilly and Elder Gutierrez

Franklin Ward Trunk or Treat

Monday, October 24, 2016

Week 17: Tender Mercies

Dear Family and Friends,
     After a few disappointing canceled appointments, I know that the Lord is so very aware of each and every one of us!
     The craziest thing happened last Monday.  We were in downtown Boston and out of no where I hear my name.  I turned around to see one of my best friend Kurtis Walker's family.  I got to see Jackson Walker who recently returned from his mission and Kurtis' parents.  It was such a blessing to see some familiar faces and I know that it was a tender mercy sent from heaven.
     The work here in Franklin is continuing to remain a little tough but I know there are people in this area who are being prepared at this very moment to receive the gospel of Jesus Christ into their lives.  We have done so much tracting in this last week that my knuckle that I knock with is starting to turn into a different shape, haha.  Elder Weber and I are so thankful for the amazing ward here that continues to be a great support in the missionary work as well!  I am deeply grateful for the members here who have been my family as I am away from my own, and I know the Lord has sent them as a tender mercy as well.
     On Saturday, the Hingham Stake had a multi-cultural food event.  Members from all over the world made their favorite foods.  It was a great event for non-members to come to an LDS church and have fun.  There was a great turn out and I got to see my old MTC companion, Elder Evans!
     This Sunday was the primary program here for the Franklin 1st Ward, another tender mercy.  It was so amazing to see the primary children singing and to feel their spirit.  Children truly are so much closer to heaven than anyone else and I am so very grateful for the knowledge of the gospel and eternal families.
     Thank you for the love and support I have received in the last week.  I truly am so blessed.   Even when the storms come and when we feel as if we are about to sink into despair, Christ is there.  As we put our faith in Him I know that we can and WILL find peace from all pains this world might have to offer.

Elder Gutierrez

Look who found me in downtown Boston - Jackson Walker
Downtown Boston
Elder Evans and Elder Gutierrez (MTC Companions) at Stake International Food Festival
Fall is BEAUTIFUL in Massachusetts

Tender Mercies - Ran into the Walker family in downtown Boston

Monday, October 17, 2016

Week 16: Franklin, Massachusetts

Dear Family and Friends,
     I'm so very grateful for the Franklin, Massachusetts Ward.  I have only been here for a week and I already love the ward members here.  I'm so grateful for their love and care.  The work here in this area is completely different from the work in Worcester.  It was sad leaving Worcester but I know the Lord needs me here in Franklin.  We have a lot less investigators and we work with a lot of inactive members of the ward.  It is going to take some time to get adjusted to being here but I am excited for the opportunity to serve here and the challenges that are ahead.
     My new companion's name is Elder Weber.  He is from Dietrich, Idaho which is a super small town.  His graduating class was 21 kids!  He has been serving in this area for 6 months already.  He is about 16 months into his mission and I'm excited to be able to work with him.
     This week we were able to do service for a less active lady in the ward who has a Sanctuary Animal Farm.  I'm stoked about helping to reactivate her because she's an awesome lady and she said she will let me help work on her animals with her!  We were digging some holes on her property this week and we pulled out a HUGE rock.
     This week we got to go to Harvard during transfers which was pretty awesome!  Today we will be going to Boston for P-Day.  Have a great week everyone!  Thanks for all the love and support.

Elder Gutierrez
Elder Gutierrez and Elder Weber on the Harvard Campus

Harvard Campus

Harvard Football Stadium
Harvard Football Field

Saying goodbye to Carline Lysonge and her family in Worcester.

Saying goodbye to Raymond Lopez in Worcester.

Removing the HUGE rock at the Sanctuary Animal Farm in Franklin, Massachusetts 

Service at a farm in Franklin.  I'm stoked found me some animals!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Week 15: Peace Out Worcester!

     It has been a very exciting and eventful week.  On Saturday, I found out that I am being transferred to Franklin, Massachusetts.  Neither Elder Stewart or I thought that either one of us would be leaving, but I am excited to learn new things in this new area.  At first, I wasn't too happy to be leaving Worcester because I feel as if I am just now familiar with the ward and the city.  I feel as if I have so much unfinished work in Worcester, but I know our Heavenly Father needs me elsewhere and I am excited about the opportunity.  I leave on Wednesday, October 12th.  My new companion is Elder Weber and that's all I know.
     This week President Miller challenged the mission to break the record of most investigators picked up in one week (even with most of the Sister missionaries working in the Hartford Temple Open House) for the Massachusetts Boston mission which was 205.  As a zone, district, and companionship we made goals to break the record and ......we got 314 new investigators in one week!  It was so cool to feel the whole mission working together and united in spreading the gospel in full force.  Our zone set out to get 30 investigators and we got 47.  Elder Stewart and I reached our goal at 8 new investigators this week.
     As I have reflected about my service here in Worcester, I am so blessed and grateful for the opportunity to serve here.  My favorite thing about Worcester has been teaching people from all over the world.  I have taught people from Liberia, Jamaica, Sierra Leon, Iraq, Albania, Nigeria, Haiti, Congo, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, and of course Ghana.  I have loved meeting people from all over the world who have a desire to learn more about Christ.  It is so amazing how no matter where you are from or what you look like, that the Gospel can bless all of our lives!
     This week we got to go to the temple with Jude, Carol, James, and Emmanuel!  It was so awesome to see four of our recent converts perform sacred ordinances for those in their families who never had the chance to hear the Gospel.  I love temples so much and especially the Boston Temple.
     So this week we also met Jeff Paul Keller.....Elder Stewart and I were on our way home and this guy came up to us and asked us if we were from the Latter-day Saints church.  We said yes and he invited us to his apartment.  So we were pretty excited to figure out who this guy was.  Long story short Jeff Paul Keller is definitely somebody I will never forget.  He's probably about 50 years old, very few teeth, heavy set, and one heck of a personality.  He shared with us many things and told us how some LDS missionaries helped clean his apartment once and he was very impressed with their service.  He then shared with us a rap that he made to help people remember his name.  "Jeff Paul Keller.....Like Helen Keller.....Blind and Deaf.....Rhymes with Jeff!.....The apostle Paul.....Like JFK.....But JPK!" ,or something like that HAHA!!  Anyway, he started to question us on what we thought about specific stories in the Bible and Elder Stewart thought it would be best to leave when he started getting angry.
     Fast forward to Sunday.  Fast and Testimony meeting starts and out of nowhere walks in Jeff Paul Keller!  We didn't even give him the church address!  He walked straight in and up to the pulpit and with the voice of a very out of tune very loud trumpet rapped his name song twice, sang Amazing Grace (Opera Style) and Swing Low Sweet Chariot (Opera Style) and then sat down!!  The performance lasted about 10 minutes.  The ward members were so confused and Elder Stewart and I weren't sure what was going on.  In the end, everything turned out alright and the ward members loved it.  Oh Jeff Paul Keller, great guy and I will never get his rap out of my head.
     Thanks you for all your support.  Julia's baptism as of now is a go for the 16th of October.  Her family is still not supportive in anyway but we are so thankful for the miracles and blessings we see everyday.  Hopefully I'll be able to come back to Worcester for the baptism.  Thanks for all the support and love!

Elder Gutierrez

Recent Convert Temple Day - James and Emmanuel's 1st Time Going to the Temple
Jude, Elder Stewart, Elder Gutierrez (sporting the llama tie from Peru), Emmanuel, Carol and James

Elder Gutierrez and Elder Stewart at the Boston Temple

Visiting Bob at the Hospital

Teaching Giordan in the dance room of his boarding school.

Tamara and Purson's family from Haiti.

Ashley Street meets Nathaniel Street
Fall in Worcester
Fall Leaves in Massachusetts

Brother Ciunci the HIMER!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Week 14: Conference Weekend

Dear Family and Friends,
     General Conference truly is so amazing.  It is such a blessing to know that our Father in Heaven calls these men to lead us in these days that can seem so scary.  Hearing the words from our prophet and the twelve apostles was an even sweeter experience as a servant of the Lord.
     Some of my favorite quotes from conference were:  "What could be more joyful than sharing eternal truths with God's children?" - Elder Oaks.  "Let the Savior be your caregiver" - Elder Hales.  "We need to pay as much attention to His voice as he does to ours" - Elder Uceda.  ALL of Elder Cornish's talk.  "He endured to the very last drop" - Elder Christopherson.  "We all experience trials and if we are ambitious for Christ we can be happy even during our trials." - Elder Yamashita.  ALL of Elder Russell M. Nelson's talk.  "We can always bless others" - Elder Rasband.  "When we are grateful our doubts will fly." - President Eyring.
     I am so very grateful for the Plan of Salvation and how much happiness it brings into my own life and those who I share it with.  God's plan is perfect.  I know our Savior lives and that he is very aware of every single one of us.
     Funny Story:  One of our recent converts, Jude, had forgotten about conference and showed up at the church at 8:00 am , around 10:00 she was starting to get worried that nobody was showing up!  She called us and told us that she thought that we all ascended to heaven and that we had left her!  HAHA!! Jude is very funny and she was honestly pretty worried.
     I am very grateful for the work and people that the Lord continues to bless Elder Stewart and I with.  This transfer has blown by compared to last.  I am so grateful to be a missionary and I love this work.  Everyone pray for Julia who's baptism is closely approaching.  Thank you!

- Elder Gutierrez

Hartford Connecticut Temple open house has begun.  Second temple in our mission.

Elder Stewart and I