Monday, March 23, 2015

3/23/15 – Being Converted to Missionary Work – a Reminder for Us All…

District meeting in the American Falls district. 
We used the coins (A Four Leaf Clover for Good Luck)
as a reminder to invite someone to the waters of baptism that day 
and throughout their missions. 
A token of good fortune and blessings even...

I have often felt inadequate as a missionary set apart to teach the gospel. I never really learned a whole lot about 'the basics' before I left to the Missionary Training Center. I was not prepared and it was evident as I made attempts to open my mouth and expect the words to just come out without having prepared beforehand. It turned into a lot of gibberish is really what it came down to. I did have a testimony that this church was the restored church of Jesus Christ in these latter-days. I did know this was good, I received a witness of that fact. I did know that serving a mission would bless others and myself. I did know I wanted to bring the light of the gospel into the lives of those that don't have it. Then I was called to Idaho. EVERYONE here has had some sort of affiliation with the church. What could I possibly bring to them that they haven't already heard? A lot of them have been around the block a few more times than I have and could out scripture any day if they wanted to. The thought of my beliefs being challenged was scary because how would I defend them? The older and wiser I've gotten throughout life, the more I've realized I truly don't know anything. I've since learned... I am firm and steadfast. I am stiffnecked yes... But I learned. I've been blessed so much. I've truly been able to see the crowning events which have inspired change and correction throughout my life and especially my mission. I still at times feel inadequate as I stand in front of people and teach. At times I feel hypocritical. I always strive to remember the promise of the atonement. Change is possible. It is not easy, it requires a great effort... struggle even. As I have kneeled in council with my Father in Heaven for the well-being of others and myself I have found great peace of mind. "Sincere prayer requires great effort" - Preach MY Gospel.

Prayer has probably been the biggest internal struggle I've dealt with throughout my life. I have felt, in the past, a lack of the supposed 'answers' we are to receive. There were months on end, especially the year previous to my mission departure, in which I pleaded sincerely for His help and felt left alone and in the dark. I felt powerless at times. I did not feel as though there was any heavenly help or guidance. I don't know exactly why that is other than the probably of my lack of diligence and follow through. I know I had received answers, I know that I had received guidance. I lacked the part where you are supposed to ACT. Pray like everything depends on God and work like everything depends on you. But how do you get the drive to work when you are already brought down into the depths of despair? Try looking at life in a different light. Try to look at every promise that God has made to us and live worthy of the blessings promised. Just watch and see them unfold. "Enduring large tests, while failing seemingly small quizzes just won't do" Neil A. Maxwell. The best way to gain motivation to do anything is to do. Start moving and the motivation will follow. Put these gospel principles to test in your own life and see God work wonders. Just watch and see. I testify to the power of prayer in our lives'. It may require great effort for months on end. It may require great effort for YEARS! Heavenly Father is watching and He is lending that guiding hand. Take hold of the good things in life. Grasp firmly the principles that have been given us for the eternal salvation of us and our families and we will find a joy never felt. A challenge I extended to you. Help someone to fill the void that have in their hearts. The way is given clearly, we are all to be missionaries, we are NOT to be selfish, we can only fully experience the blessings of this gospel as we share this light with others, especially those whom hunger and thirst after righteousness. I truly believe that. I say these things as a representative of Jesus Christ. I humbly pray I may stay true and strong to the testimony that I have developed. I love and pray for each and every one of you. 

Love,
Elder Gillespie

Friday, March 20, 2015

3/16/15 – Mid-Mission Testimony!


Elder Evan Gillespie in Chubbuck, Idaho:
"I mustache you a question, but I will shave it for later..."
Friends and Family,

I come to you in a letter of humility and gratitude for all that I've been witness to in my life. I've gained a greater love for life and for that light that is available for all to receive. Times in life all of us walk through fog or through some darkness. Some remain in darkness longer than others. I don't know that I believe you can ever walk through darkness without at least being able to see a small light burning far in the distance. Fun fact, our eyes are 1 million more times sensitive to light if exposed to complete and total darkness. We as sons and daughters of our loving Heavenly Father have been born with what's called the light of Christ. That gives us an inherent ability to recognize good and bad. We all know which is which and can discern light. It is up to us to make the decision to walk towards the light. The closer we get the brighter it becomes. That light is essentially our eternal salvation. The goal is to eventually bathe in the illumination of the goodness of our God and obtain eternal salvation. The Atonement made for man is sufficient for all. It was the great and eternal sacrifice that we may feel relief from feelings of guilt and shame. We need to be courageous and step towards the light as we travel through the dark. We don't know what we might trip over, we may even decide to turn back on the path because we already know what is there, but that light is always there and always burning waiting to guide us on the straight and narrow path back to our Heavenly Father. When we fall, the only way we'll ever stand is on our knees with lifted hands. I have in many ways turned away from the light at points in my life. I willingly walked back into the dark. The hurt that comes from watching a person you love and care for walk into the darkness is deep. It is a deep hurt, because you have developed much charity and love and desire the eternal welfare for that person. You know their eternal potential and you feel hopeless in being able to help at times. I testify that we will have to experience these sorrows at times in our life; we have to know the dark to know the light. I bare witness that there is nothing you can do to turn our Father in Heaven or Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, away from you. He is always there with open arms waiting to receive you. He is the one holding that candle in the far distance. I know that there is much joy to be experienced in this life. DO NOT ALLOW SATAN TO ALLOW YOU TO FEEL CONTENT. Contentment is the downfall of man. There is much work to be done yet. Do not 'flatline' on the rollercoaster of life. There is MORE to life. Never give up and always get up! We must realize we are not perfect. We have been chosen to be on earth in this day and age. We are among our Father in Heaven's most valiant and courageous spirit children to willingly go down at a time like this. Amongst all of the evils of the world that we are being deceived by and encouraged to perceive is good or not that bad, there is the good. There is the great. There is the AMAZING! 


How many of us do follow the most basic of our Heavenly Father's commandments?....

Yet, we sit back and wonder where our Father is and why He has been so quiet, why He would allow these things to happen. We wonder why He hasn't blessed us. It's like I'm murdering someone I just lie here a little and there a little; where are my blessings, where is my joy? I love each one of you and desire for you to experience the peace and joy and consolation that I have been able to experience on my mission and in my life. Heavenly Father has provided a way back. That is His Son, remember Him, it is because of Him we can have that joy I keep speaking of. It is because of Him that we can be an eternal family. 

Love,
Elder Gillespie

Monday, March 9, 2015

3/9/15 – Love Being a Zone Leader in Chubbuck!



Hello my Lovelies,

My thinkin' juices must not be flowin' very freely because I can't think of much to say. I suppose I can begin with... This has been ANOTHER crazy busy week. I'm loving the work here in Chubbuck. Elder Wright and I, in Shelley, got to the point where we knew every single person's house in 2 of our 4 wards whether or not they were a member. Here in Chubbuck we cover 6 wards and there's so much new blood to approach. We currently have 3 investigators on date to be baptized in he coming 6 weeks or so. Hopefully, by the end of next week we'll have 4. The leaders in the stake and wards are on fire in this area. 

I hit my year mark of being on my mission this Thursday the 12th! Crazy how it has flown by. Also, scary because I don't know that I ever want to go home! I've grown so much and learned so much as a missionary... Elder Olson has been sick for 3 weeks now, so that's been a bit frustrating for him I'm sure. He is on the upswing though and we are going to get SO MUCH work done this upcoming week, I'm can't wait to see what the rest of the transfer has to bring us in this area.

As for the zone.. I'm loving being a zone leader! I'm still learning a lot about how to lead a zone, It's a lot different than being a district leader, because you're companion isn't a district leader also, when you're a zone leader you have to work with another brain when planning or things, sometimes it's a benefit and sometimes it causes you to take twice as long to accomplish something fairly simple haha. We have SO much to do as Zone Leaders along with trying to keep busy in our proselyting and setting the example for our zone. The zone has its struggles that's for sure. It's interesting having a new perspective on different little things. I'm also able to pull information from a lot more resources than I previously could have. I am able to interact with many more missionaries on a different level and learn how they have seen success in certain aspects of their mission. It's awesome.


Love,

Elder Gillespie

Note from Betsy - Saturday, March 7th was Elder Evan Gillespie's 21st birthday! He has grown into a funtabulously wonderful man and is well-loved and respected by those he serves and serves with here in Idaho - we are blessed by his service in our lives and it is a blessing beyond compare that he's serving our Father in Heaven so selflessly.  It was a beautiful day when you were born Evan and you make it a beautiful life with all you do and who you are!  Love you!  - Mom

3/2/15 – Chubbuck


Elders Olson and Gillespie in Chubbuck, Idaho
So my new area... 

Elder Olson and I cover half of the Chubbuck stake (6 wards). We had a baptism this past Saturday! We have a car. We have an AMAZINGLY BRILLIANT Stake President, who is also the brother of a Bishop in my last area. This area has amazing potential for missionary work, baptisms to be more specific. It's hard to find time to do any missionary work as a Zone Leader!! Ok it's not THAT bad, but it feels odd for me to not go out to proselyte until 3 or 4 or even until after dinner on some days! I've been able to see some recent converts I taught/baptized when I was in the Pocatello West Stake, so that has been fun. 

This week has been CHAOTIC! We had our goodbyes on Monday and Tuesday, Wednesday was transfers, Thursday we had weekly planning and we had to plan for something for the zone, Friday we had Mission Leadership Council which beings at 9:00am and we get home by about 4:00, Saturday we had a baptism that we had had almost no time to prepare for properly, and Sunday was a regional conference mingled with more planning for the zone and ourselves. Elder Olson and I will be a good team. As of now it seems that our strengths and weaknesses coincide and make up for what the other lacks. Elder Olson has only got about 3 months left so I'm excited to learn from all of the experiences he has to share and to see how he works. He is a very humble missionary and when it comes to bearing a powerful testimony he's the go to guy. 

This upcoming week will be just as busy! We have Zone Conference this Tuesday (half of the mission comes to this). We have Zone Training (just our zone (16 missionaries)) this Thursday as well. Thankfully, we'll have more time to proselyte this week, but man... I just want to hit the pavement and get on the move. I want to meet all of our investigators and ward/stake leaders. With as busy as last week was it seemingly took eternity to be over with, surprisingly enough. I don't have much more to add other than I'm glad to be here serving the people of Chubbuck and serving with Elder Olson.

Love y'all,

Elder Gillespie


2/23/15 – Our First Parents and Leadership Assignment

Elder Evan Gillespie on his way to being a Zone Leader in Chubbuck, Idaho

I've been gettin' into doing genealogy lately, I don't have much time for it but man it's exciting! I just connected to a line that goes back to Adam and Eve. So someone I'm related to has been doin' quite a bit of work. I'm slightly upset that it all connects by itself, but it's also REALLY nice.. I just would have fun doing it all myself though.

Anyways... we got the news this past week for what is going on in transfers! I'm going down to Chubbuck (bordering the area I was serving in when I was in the Pocatello West Stake) and I'll be serving with Elder Olson. I LOVE Elder Olson, he is one of my first Zone Leaders. About 6 weeks ago, He and I were grabbing some lunch with a couple of other missionaries and we were talking about transfers and he ended up leaving. BUT we were talking about us serving as Zone Leaders together before he 'dies' in the mission. He has three months left. Chances are that he and I will serve together until he goes home. I'm going to learn a TON from him. It's pretty exciting. He's a very wise man and always has deep insight to provide in any given situation. 

I'm actually going to call it quits for now. I'm way too excited right now to do some genealogy. All is well here in Shelley and the next time you here from me I'll be serving in Chubbuck.

Love,
Elder Gillespie

Note from Betsy – two things – First, Evan was doing Genealogy and said, “I just figured out that our line connects to Adam and Eve!!!” – I went back through my Mother’s line and discovered the same…  my note: WOW! Seriously WOW! I'm sitting here in Happy Tears - just heard from Evan and he's headed to Chubbuck Wednesday and he proclaimed that our Genealogy goes back to Adam & Eve! Last Dad said - he got to the mid-1500's many years ago... So I started clicking through Mom's line and found a TON of royalty, French kings, British kings, dukes, priests, saints, etc.... but what touched me was when I went back and found Abraham and Sarai (Sarah) - through his son, Jacob ben Isaac, King of Goshen, (yes - the Same Jacob and Rebecca love story of the Bible).... Just seeing the 'reality' of the relation to father Abraham brought me to grateful tears - for our heritage.... It means WAY more to have this relation than that of any king or duke... Then a few more clicks, Shem, Noah, Enoch, Enos, Seth and there they were - Adam and Eve - Father and Mother of all living! WOW! Seriously... I've read over those lists of names in the scriptures over and over and they were all so long ago - very distant... but now - it's REAL - they're Family.... I guess I always 'knew' this and believed it... but yes - it's there, it's real... oh and YES - we ALL are Family... I’m SOOOOOO uber-grateful for Evan’s discovery!  Yes, we are all truly brothers & sisters!!! Because Family Happens!

Second – For Evan to be assigned to serve as a Zone Leader is a huge responsibility, humbling blessing and I couldn’t be prouder of the man he’s become! Here is a copy of the letter that Evan received that they sent me:

Dear Elder Gillespie,

This letter confirms the assignment I extended to you to serve as a Zone Leader.  Congratulations on this assignment.  With this assignment, great trust has been placed in you.  I trust that you will be an example of:

·         Exact obedience-the blessings that come to missionaries, who are obedient with exactness are immeasurable, and by being an example you will be able to help the missionaries in your zone be obedient.
·         A Preach My Gospel missionary so that you can show the missionaries how to be successful.
·         A leader who lifts and inspires the missionaries with love.
·         A missionary who is focused on your purpose to bring others to Christ.
·         A leader who is diligent, humble, and effective

Remember to always call upon your Heavenly Father.  The Lord will qualify you for this work as you rely upon Him in faith.  You can also call on the assistants and me for counsel and guidance.

As with all assignments in the Church, at some point in time a release will be issued.  Until that time serve with all your heart, might, mind and strength in furthering this work. It is a privilege to serve with you, in this leadership role.

Love,

Marvin T. Brinkerhoff

Mission President


Elders Jeremy Harris, Evan Gillespie, Elder Dalling, Michael Bregg, Bryce Merkley