Monday, December 26, 2016

Week 26: Merry CHRISTmas

     Merry Christmas everybody!  I hope your homes were filled with love for our Savior yesterday as we celebrated his birth on a very beautiful Sabbath Day.  My 1st Christmas away from home was very, very, special and I had a very Merry Christmas and a great week.
     This week was full of fun and exciting things.  Tuesday we had interviews with President Miller and on Wednesday we had a trainer/trainee meeting.  We got to go to the temple afterwards.  I love being around President Miller because everything he says is so profound and I am continually learning from him.  He helped answer some questions I had about receiving personal revelation.  On Wednesday, Elder Barlow and I got to get more instruction from him on how we can both become better missionaries.  It was great to see some other missionaries who are going through the fun and tough times of training, like I am.  We all can improve so much but we are all being qualified through the Lord's help.  Something that I learned was if we have enough love for our investigators, there is nothing that we should be afraid of saying to them to help them change.  BE BOLD!!  Going to the temple afterward was so great, there is no greater feeling than being inside the temple.
     Friday night, we had a very special experience.  Our District went caroling to our investigators and members homes in our areas!!!  It was so much fun as we sang those sacred hymns of Christ's birth and to see the faces of those we sang to light up.  It really helped me to feel my Savior's love for his children and how very, very special this time of year is.
     Christmas day we got to go to church and I loved it.  There is no better day to go to church and to praise our God.  The service was an hour full of singing and the spirit.  It was a Christmas that I will never forget.  Afterwards, we got to spend time with some fantastic members and Skype our families.  I love my family very much and it was so great to hear their voices.
     I love Christmas time and I'm sad that it's over but we can always have his spirit with us as we follow him, keep his commandments, and love one another.  I love my Savior, Jesus Christ, and the gift he provided to the world.  I know he lives and loves each one of us and it is my prayer that we can all turn our hearts to Him and partake of his everlasting divine love.  He bears our burdens, lights our way, and knows each one of us.  Thank you for all the love and support I continually receive!  Love ya all.

Elder Gutierrez
Merry CHRISTmas 2016 - Elder Barlow and Elder Gutierrez

Matching District - The tie and skirt match

Christmas Eve Dinner with the Pickups

Chistmas at the Gutke's Home

Sunday, December 25, 2016

FaceTime for Christmas

     Merry Christmas!  The best part of Christmas was FaceTiming Elder Drew Gutierrez from the Massachusetts Boston Mission.  We had everything ready to Skype but the connection was bad so it kept stalling.  We changed to FaceTime in order to see and talk to him.
     Elder Gutierrez was very upbeat and happy.  He loves being a missionary and the people in the Boston area.  He told us all about his companions and his awesome converts.  He gave us an update of his convert, Julia, that was baptized the week after he left the Worcester area.  He was able to go back for her baptism.  Julia attends a Catholic school.  In one of her textbooks, there was a chapter about Joseph Smith.  They called him a gold digger and fraud.  Julia approached the professor and told him that the information was not true.  He offered to let her do a presentation on Joseph Smith.  She put together the presentation and taught her school class about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon.  After the presentation, three of her friends requested missionary lessons and copies of the Book of Mormon!  The missionaries are currently teaching them.
     We are thankful to the Gutke family for opening their home on Christmas so Elder Gutierrez and his companion could contact their families.  Afterwards, I contacted them and thanked them for their kind service and support for the missionaries.  They replied with the following message which of course had me in tears.  "Thank you so much for your sweet message to us.  Elder Gutierrez is such an exceptional missionary and we love him very much.  He has such an amazing heart and pure soul.  From the moment he first knocked at our door, we knew that he was someone special.  We are so grateful to you for raising an amazing young man and preparing him to serve.  He is a dedicated missionary to the Lord.  New England is blessed to have him for a season.  Merry Christmas."

 - Heidi Gutierrez
FaceTime with Brooklyn

FaceTime with Mom

Monday, December 19, 2016

Week 25: Christmas Miracles!

     Christmas miracles are happening!  Elder Barlow and I had set a goal earlier this month that we were going to have a baptism this month.  We knew we could accomplish this goal with the Lord's help.  And . . . this week we extended 3 baptismal dates and only one accepted but we now have a baptismal date for one of our investigators on 12/31!  Robert Lewis is his name, he is such a great guy.  He lives in our apartment complex and we often see him walking around and on Wednesday, we were talking to him in the apartment building. I asked him if we could share a message with him and he said that we could!  We taught him the Restoration and on Friday we taught him the Gospel of Jesus Christ!  He is very excited about his baptismal date and Elder Barlow and I are very, very excited too. Everyone keep Robert in your prayers.
     This week we had a Christmas themed Zone Conference on Tuesday.  Instead of trainings, President Miller opened the Conference to testimonies and musical numbers.  IT WAS SO AMAZING!  Definitely the spiritual boost that I needed.  The spirit in that chapel was tangible.  I was so touched by the testimonies of my fellow missionaries and I felt so much joy and love from and for my Savior.  And to top it all off, we got to go to the temple afterwards and not only for a session.  I got to participate in sealings, an endowment session, and initiatories!  I love the temple so, so, so, much and Tuesday was just extraordinary!  I especially loved the feelings inside the sealing room and was very grateful to be able to participate in the sealings of families who have passed on.  I know without a doubt in my mind that the temple is the House of the Lord.  It is the only place on Earth where heaven literally connects.
     Funny story of the week, sorta . . . . it snowed a ton!  We were helping shovel snow at our ward mission leaders home before we correlated.  After our meeting, we were about to go and I could not find our keys . . . After much searching in the snow, we could not find them.  So we are now keyless and our ward mission leader had to drive us to the mission home to get a spare key to our car.  Ha, ha so maybe we will get our keys back in the spring. Whoops!
     This Sunday was our primary program and nativity scene, which was fantastic!  I love Christmas time and the spirit that radiates in our souls, homes, and families.  I marvel how meek and humble our Savior's birth was and how He is the most influential person who has ever lived.  He accomplished the will of our Father so that WE could live with Him again.  So that WE can be with our families forever.  So that WE can become like Him.  So WE may have joy!  I love Him so much for that.  I know that He really does love each and everyone of us in the most perfect way.  MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!!

Elder Gutierrez

Merry Christmas from Bellingham. MA

Zone Conference - December 13, 2016

Sister Carlisle and Elder Gutierrez

Elder Gutierrez and Elder Barlow at the Boston Temple

Nativity at the Boston Temple

John 3:16:  For God So Loved the World 

Monday, December 12, 2016

Week 24: Are We All Not Beggars?

     Mosiah 4: 19-20 "19: For behold, are we not all beggars?  Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind? 20: And behold, even at this time, ye have been calling on his name, and begging for a remission of your sins.  And has he suffered that ye have begged in vain?  Nay; he has poured out his Spirit upon you, and has caused that your hearts should be filled with joy, and has caused that your mouths should be stopped that ye could not find utterance, so exceedingly great was your joy."
     Recently, I have been able to think a lot about really how dependent I am on the Savior as a missionary, as a person, and as one of God's children.  I know my Savior, Jesus Christ payed the price so that we would not have to, and because of that I have so, so much joy!  Without Him, I am nothing and I can do nothing.
     Elder Barlow and I have had the opportunity to be tested and to rely on the Lord on every single aspect of this work this week.  It has been tough to find people to teach recently and I received some very great counsel from another missionary.  Elder Barlow and I NEED to involve the Lord in EVERY single aspect of our work here.  We need to have increased faith that the Lord is preparing people for us to teach, increased sincere prayers so the Lord can direct us to them, and more obedience and continual daily repentance so that we can be trusted by the Lord.  We are excited to make some changes in our work and be able to find those who are prepared here!
     It truly is so amazing to know that our Heavenly Father does not and will not abandon us.  He hears us and loves us!  I am so, so dependent on His grace and I am so thankful for this Christmas time to celebrate Christ's birth.  Yesterday was the Stake Christmas Choir event, I love Christmas hymns and it was such a great spiritual experience.  This week is going to be great and we are loving the Christmas spirit that is in the air!  Love you all!

Elder Gutierrez

Quincy Market - Downtown Boston

Downtown Boston on P-Day

Downtown Boston

Check Out Tom Brady's Car

Monday, December 5, 2016

Week 23: SNOW!

     IT SNOWED TODAY!  Great week in the mission field.  This week Elder Barlow and I had some great experiences and learned a lot from each other.  Being a trainer is such a great blessing because it has made me such a better missionary as I try to teach the basics to Elder Barlow.
     This week we got to go to West Bridgewater, Massachusetts on exchanges with the zone leaders.  I got to spend the day with Elder Rogers and we had a blast!  I loved serving in their area for the day because it reminded me so much of Worcester.  We taught some awesome lessons, picked up a few investigators, Mark gave us all his cigarettes and tobacco!  One of the most rewarding things as a missionary is seeing somebody choose to put God first in their life by giving up something that hinders their relationship with Him.  It was great learning and serving with Elder Rogers and Tilly. They are fantastic missionaries and it was great to see how they helped Elder Barlow become more comfortable when teaching and street contacting.
     Some great things happened this week with one of our less-active members in the ward, Brother Moles.  He is currently living with a girlfriend and she said that she wanted to get married and possibly come to church!  What a miracle!  This was huge because she was the reason he didn't come to church and out of nowhere she decided that she wanted to come!  Also Sister Vandersluis, that owns the farm that we do service at said she would make an effort to come to church on the 18th when we are having the Christmas Program.
      Also another piece of great news is that we picked up an awesome investigator named Sueidy.  She is from Brazil and she mainly speaks Portuguese so . . . her two sons Pierry and Piettro who are 7 and 5 years old translate for us!  It is pretty wicked cool.  She babysits from home and so in our lesson with her this week there were five children (ages 4-7) huddled around us all with Restoration pamphlets in their hands learning about Jesus Christ and Joseph Smith.  It was awesome!  We hope to extend a baptismal date this week to Sueidy.
     Things are going great here in Massachusetts!  I'm so thankful for all the prayers and support.  The #LightTheWorld initiative has been great to share with the members here and  the ward is fully participating.  I'm very grateful for this Christmas season and more importantly for what happened on Easter that allows us to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Elder Gutierrez

First Snow in Massachusetts - December 5, 2016

Mark handed over all his cigarettes and tobacco!

Elder Rogers and Elder Gutierrez with Kinsley, a member in the YSA ward.

Unloading pine boxes at the farm.

Signing Leo Pickup's casts

Elder Gutierrez and Elder Barlow with Leo Pickup and his father.