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