Monday, August 3, 2015

Continuing the Work

"I am called of God. My authority is above that of the Kings of the earth. By revelation I have been selected as a personal representative of the Lord, Jesus Christ. He is my master, and He has chosen me to represent Him. To stand in His place. To say and do what He, Himself, would say and do if He personally were ministering to the very people to whom He has sent me. My voice is His voice. My acts are His acts. My doctrine is His doctrine. My commission is to do what He wants done, to say what He wants said, to be a living modern witness in word and in deed of the divinity of this great and marvelous latter-day work. How great is my calling!" 

The calling that I have to be a representative of my Savior, Jesus Christ, is one of the biggest blessings and greatest opportunities I have had thus far in my life, and I will forever be grateful for it. I can only pray that I did enough to live up to such a sacred calling. My heart is breaking knowing that I will be released from my calling in just one more day, but I am humbled as I reflect on the changes I have made and the stronger relationship I have gained with my Father in Heaven, His Son, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost since being ordained and set apart as a missionary. I couldn't be more grateful for the experiences I have had these past 18 months. 

This week was the perfect way to finish my mission. Things have been rough the past couple weeks, but Heavenly Father pulled through, and we saw many miracles.I have a lot to talk about in this email and not much time, so I'm gonna have to summarize the miracles that happened. The first one was pretty big. Last Sunday, a Sister announced to the ward that her daughter's boyfriend had been in a car accident. He was with two men in their 30's who were both drunk, and they got hit then rolled down the mountain in their jeep... The 15 year old boyfriend was in the hospital and was on life support, and they had made the decision to take him off of life support the next day... So the sweet Sister asked the ward to pray for him. We all did, and the next day as they were all walking to his room to say their goodbyes, they found him awake and alert. He isn't acting normal yet, and nobody can really understand what he is trying to say, but he is awake and recovering! It was a pretty big miracle. 

On Thursday, we took Mary's daughter, Sam, out with us to do some missionary work ALL day long. It was so much fun! It's crazy because every time we take a member with us out to work, the miracles just POUR out of the sky! It's insane. That day was no exception. We visited a couple that had seemed pretty standoffish the first time we had gone over, but we were supposed to go over and do some service for them that day, so we thought we'd try and teach a bit. When we got there, they had left this note on their door:
"Girls: We're in the bedroom to the left of the front door - because of the heat.  Please come in."
We felt a bit awkward about just walking inside their house and going into their bedroom, but we did. :P We got in there and they were laying in bed in front of like 4 fans because of the heat. They told us that they didn't want us doing service in the heat, so we sat and talked instead. Long story short, we ended up teaching the entire Plan of Salvation because of their questions, and by the end of the visit, the woman said, "Ya know, lately I've been feeling this PULL or... this draw to come back to Christ. I know that there's more knowledge out there, and I want to be able to learn it all." It shocked us. But the best part was when the man said the closing prayer. He said, "Lord, please help us both to open our hearts to the message these sweet ladies have to share. We know that there is more to learn and we desire to learn it. Help us to feel your spirit as we discern and seek for truth." It was amazing! Such a miracle! 

The other huge miracle that day was Corey. I had stopped by with the other Hermanas a few weeks ago and just felt TERRIBLE about going to visit him, so we didn't. This time, we got there and decided we should pray to know if we should visit him or not because of what happened last time. We prayed, and then decided to say what our answer was on the count of three. I counted 1, 2, 3... and immediately we all said, "YES!" So that was that. We got out of the car and knocked on his door. We waited a bit, and eventually knocked again. We waited some more then rang the doorbell. Then we called him. Then we yelled and said it was us. Nothing. He wasn't home! We all kinda wondered why we would all get such a strong answer of "yes" when he wasn't even home. How dare I question God. Ay ay ay. As we were walking away from his door, I remembered a potential investigator that lived nearby and thought, "well, we might as well try her while we're here." We knocked on her door and a man answered. I asked him if Sierra was here, and he said he'd go get her. As we went up the stairs, I noticed another man in the back of the apartment, and for some reason, I recognized him. It was Corey! Long story short, we got a return appointment with him (and he ended up coming to church yesterday), and we got 2 new investigators out of Sierra and her dad who had answered the door. It was pretty cool. :) God doesn't do random. 

The fact that I'm going home didn't really cross my mind much until yesterday at church. It was fast and testimony meeting, which was the PERFECT Sunday to conclude on. I bore my testimony and testified of the truthfulness of the Gospel, but the best part was when Mary and Toby both bore their testimonies for the first time in their lives. Mary has been a member since she was in her late teens, so for me to be able to see her bear her testimony in sacrament meeting for the first time was such a blessing. When Toby bore his testimony, he wasn't exactly sure what to say, so Charlie went up with him and helped him out. It was beautiful. It is moments like that where everything sad or heartbreaking or sorrowful that has happened on the mission doesn't matter. That it all feels worth it. I am baffled by the many ways that God has blessed me and allowed me to be a part of His children's progression. I will forever be grateful for that.
I had my exit interview with President Taylor this week as well, which was all sorts of confusing. Haha I say that because it was wonderful and happy and made me excited for what lays ahead, but it was also super upsetting to think that it was my last official interview with President, and I hardly had any time to ask him questions and beg him to share in his infinite wisdom! Hahaha. He told me a lot of wonderful things in my interview, but all I can really say about it is that I am so grateful for my Mission President. I KNOW that one of the main reasons I was called to the Washington Vancouver Mission was because I needed President Taylor. He has been such a big answer to so many prayers on my mission. He has taught me so much, and has helped me to better understand how the Spirit speaks to me. I will never be able to repay him for the things he and this mission have done for me. 

Over the course of the past 18 months, I have changed immensely. A friend who is a return missionary once said to me that if the changes we have made since being on our missions were physical, we wouldn't be able to recognize each other, and that is so true. I have changed and grown so much! Like I told my family over Skype on Mother's Day, "I am still me, but my righteousness is through the roof!" Haha the values that I had before my mission have been strengthened and solidified ten fold. I have also found new things that I cherish and care deeply about that will help me in my eternal progression, and I am so happy they are a part of me now. I've done my best to think of what I have learned the MOST on my mission, but I don't think that's really possible because there's been so much! I'm going to try to boil it down to 4 principles that have been on my mind recently as I've pondered my mission. 

First, there is nothing more important than being able to recognize the whisperings of the Spirit. Once you understand how He speaks to you, it won't be nearly as difficult to follow Him and in result, you will be able to better recognize the blessings that are being given to you. The better you recognize it, the more He will speak to you, which means the more He will bless you, which ultimately means you will genuinely be happier overall. Do EVERYTHING you can to know what it feels like to feel the Spirit. He doesn't talk to everyone the same, but He DOES speak to everybody. There is not one soul that He doesn't try His best to communicate with. Find out what he's trying to say. It will change your life.

Second, I now understand the meaning of "work." Haha work is HARD. Most of the time, work is not fun, but it ALWAYS results in reward. There are few feelings greater than seeing the result of your hard work. In the mission, it is the MOST rewarding kind of work. Exerting all of your energy, all of your strength, all of your conscious mind toward helping others find their way back to Christ is often exhausting. Spiritual work is usually the most taxing because it's not just physically exhausting, but it literally tires your spirit. However, seeing someone find truth and clarity, and discover a best friend and advocate in their Savior, Jesus Christ, is one of the most rewarding results there is. I can't think of anything to really compare.

Third, I have learned how to feel a fraction of God's love that He has for His children. I have always found loving people to be easy, but since my mission, it is automatic. There will always be "first impressions," but I have changed in the fact that now, my first impressions are different than judgments. It is so freeing to be able to look at someone, anyone, and not think any negative thoughts about who they appear to be. Instead, I first see a child of God, and I immediately love them. I just want to stop and talk to them and get to know their story and then I want to help them find more joy. This feeling is something in my nature that is changed, and I know that that only comes by the hand of God. This is one of the things I am the most grateful for from my mission. I know that I can keep that and hold on to that love for others as long as I continue to do my best to follow Christ, and I will definitely be working to do so. Along with this feeling of love comes another principle, which is the importance of families. Obviously, I love my family. I always have and I always will, but since serving a mission, I have never been more grateful or appreciative of my family and of their many sacrifices they have made for me throughout my life and throughout my mission.    

I want to thank all of you, especially my family, for your love and support over the past 18 months. I couldn't have done it without you, and I know I will never be able to repay you for all you have done for me. Thank you so much. I also want to make sure to publicly thank my dear Father in Heaven for blessing me with the opportunity to serve. For stretching me and molding me into a better idea of who He wants and expects me to be. I hope to be able to make Him proud as I continue on in my life, doing all that I can to share His word with those around me and continue the work. I love Him. I love all of you, and I hope the Spirit will touch you to let you know how much you all mean to me. 

To end my final post as a set apart missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I want to bear my testimony. I need you to understand that I KNOW that this is the true church of Jesus Christ. It is only through His power and authority that man can obtain eternal life, and that is not something to be taken lightly. Though it is a commandment (which might sound somewhat intimidating at times), it will bring you more happiness than you can possibly imagine. I know that the priesthood authority of God was restored through a prophet, Joseph Smith, and thanks to him and his question of which church he should join, we now have another testament of Jesus Christ through the Book of Mormon which God brought forth and allowed Joseph to translate through His power. I know that the Book of Mormon is true, and that through it's teachings, along with the teachings of the Bible, we can come to know for ourselves that this Gospel is true. If you ask God ANY question with a sincere heart to know, faith that God will answer you, and real intent to act on the answer you receive, God will manifest the truth of it unto you by the power of the Holy Ghost. I know that we have a prophet today who speaks for God and guides us according to the direction our Heavenly Father wants us to go. Listen to the prophet. Follow his guidance and teachings, for they are only the teachings of the Lord Himself. I know that this work is the most important work to be done in our entire existence, and this is our purpose on Earth. We have a responsibility to our Brothers and Sisters to find those who are prepared and bring them to the knowledge of their Savior and His restored Gospel. I am so grateful for the knowledge that I have and for the relationship I have with my Savior and with my Father in Heaven. I know that as long as I am founded on Christ, I will never fall. I know that you can find this truth for yourself, whether it be for the first time or not. I say these things in the name of my Brother and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Love Always,

Sister Nicole Guilott

P.S. Let's finish off with some pictures, shall we?

Monday, July 27, 2015

"For My Name"

I can't believe that I am now down to only 6 proselyting days left... I still don't really understand what is happening, but instead of trying to figure it out, I am doing all I can to focus completely on the work just like any other week in the mission. The past couple weeks have been hard, but the Lord is still taking care of us. We haven't seen a whole lot of success, or a whole lot of work for that matter, in the past two or three weeks, and we have gotten pretty bummed because of it. So last week I prayed very very hard for a miracle. It's been SUPER difficult trying to balance both the Mint Valley work and the work in the Spanish Branch, partly because my Hermanas aren't a huge fan of "white people work" and partly because it is so exciting for me to be doing Spanish work. Mint Valley has kind of become a bit difficult to remember to keep as a focus. So I prayed for a Mint Valley Miracle, and sure enough, I got one. :) 

Two weeks ago (or maybe it was last week, I don't get time anymore), while we were helping Mary and Charlie and co. move out, Sam (the 17 year old daughter) had a friend over named Cameron who is also 17. He was there to help us pack and help get them moved and stuff. I talked to him briefly and mentioned the gospel a few times, and by the time he left he committed to come to church. But he is a 17 year old kid, so I figured I'd probably never see him again since I didn't have any of his contact info. Well yesterday, HE CAME TO CHURCH! It doesn't stop there. He stayed all 3 hours and he LOVED it. He asked me after church when is the soonest time he could be baptized. !!!!!!! I didn't get too excited though because he hasn't even had a single lesson yet, so he technically doesn't know hardly anything, but he sure felt the Spirit. He wants to be taught as often as possible this week, so we are starting tonight and hopefully teaching him every day. He is such a good kid, and he knows that he wants what is right, and he could tell that the Spirit was talking to him and testifying of the truth. It was so exciting. I can't wait to teach him and see where things go. God sure provides for his missionaries!
We are starting to do a lot of things that are making me realize my mission is coming to a close... This Friday I had my departing temple trip with all the missionaries who will be going home with me next week. President and Sister Taylor were there, as well as President Lowder (the 2nd Counselor in the Mission Presidency). It was a beautiful session. :) When we got to the Celestial Room, I went by myself and prayed. We didn't have a lot of time to be there, but I was sentimental because I knew it would be my last time in the Portland Temple while on my mission, so I took time to reflect and to ask Heavenly Father for guidance. I didn't really know what I should say though, I had so much to ask, but I didn't want to be confused so I just said, "You know what I'm feeling - please help me." I opened the scriptures and searched the page for an answer. I ended up in Doctrine and Covenants Section 126 which is only 3 verses long and says,

"1 Dear and well-beloved [sister], [Nicole Guilott], verily thus saith the Lord unto you: My servant [Sister Guilott], it is no more required at your hand to leave your family as in times past, for your offering is acceptable to me.

 2 I have seen your labor and toil in journeyings for my name.

 3 I therefore command you to send my word abroad, and take especial care of your family from this time, henceforth and forever. Amen."

I clearly edited it a little bit, but the message is the same. My mind was blown, in a not surprised at all way. I knew He would answer me, but I didn't know it would be that clear. My entire 18 months on the mission I have been working and serving for Christ's name. My purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the holy ghost, and enduring to the end. Though my purpose will change when I come home, I will always be striving to do things in the name of Jesus Christ. God commanded me to send His word abroad, and that I will do, at the same time that I am taking special care of my family. I am so grateful for that answer. I am so grateful for this work, and I am looking so forward to my last 6 or 7 days. I will make Him proud. I love you and will talk to you next week!

Love Always,

Sister Nicole Guilott

P.S. The rest
"Picking some blueberries!"

"Theresa.  What a hoot.  I'll sure miss her!"
"My companions.  Aren't they adorable?"
"Typical hispanic door.  Hahaha"

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

At Peace

I don't really know how to explain everything that has happened this week in just one short email...My heart is broken for so many people that have had to deal with what has been happening in their lives lately, but a the same time, I am still seeing miracles and the work is still progressing so I feel good.  It's very confusing. Haha. There were quite a few very drastic things that happened over the past 7 days that have left myself and my companions very exhausted... To sum up - there was a murder, suicide, adultery, evictions, CPS, a recent single convert pregnancy, a gold investigator dropped us in every way (the friendship we had formed he dropped as well(, people staying in their house with their children and changing their minds about who God is, etc.  All very big things.  But the interesting part about it is that although it has been terrible and devastating, I feel calm.  I feel at peace with it all.  It has made me think a lot about the roles of the Holy Ghost.  They are to be the comforter, warn us of danger (or potential commandment breaking), and to testify to us of truth.  I have seen all three of these incredibly prevalent this past week, and I am so grateful that I have been able to grow over the course of my mission enough to be able to RECOGNIZE those gifts of the Spirit.  I hope that you are doing your best to learn how the Spirit talks to you personally, because once you've figured that out, you will never doubt that God is there for you and taking care of you.

I'm super sorry this email is so short, but I have been at a Zone BBQ all day, so I didn't have any time to email. I'll still include pictures though! I love you all and am excited to see you in 2 weeks. :) 

Love Always,

Sister Guilott

P.S. Here they are. :) I got to see my Rodriguez's from Vancouver, we went to an Amish store called "Black Buggy," which is owned by Hermana Stidham's great great cousin. We had a Pioneer Picnic thing as a Stake and the Primary kids marched around the park (it was adorable), I had a paleta for the first time (a Mexican popsicle), and we just had a blast. I love my companions, and I am so grateful that we have each other during all of this craziness to keep each other sane!

Monday, July 13, 2015

El Trio Loco‏

Being an English and Spanish-speaking missionary at the same time has been SO MUCH FUN. :) There is so much more that I get to do now that we are working in both areas and teaching so many people, we are busy every minute of every day! It's wonderful! We had some pretty fun experiences this week, as well as many mind boggling miracles.  In case you didn't know, the title of this posts means "The Crazy Three." That is what we are! This week we went to Seaside  to teach some of the Spanish investigators we have up there. It was the first time I've been to the beach on my mission! I wanted to play in the water SO BAD!!! Don't worry though; I'm an obedient missionary.
It was beautiful! Next week we are going to stop by the Goonies house in Astoria! How fun. There is a TON of work in Seaside and Astoria, but there aren't any Spanish missionaries over there, so we cover it. Crazy town. But I'm not complaining! Also, my Spanish is coming along SUPER fast. I am loving it! In one lesson this week, I was able to teach a principle, testify, AND say the closing prayer all by myself, and all in Spanish! It was wonderful! I felt pretty cool. 

As for the English teaching, it was a pretty good week too. :) We put someone on date for baptism this morning for August 1st, and I think she will really follow through! She is a wonderful woman, and it was kind of a fluke that she became an investigator, but then again not, because God doesn't do random. :) We had another experience that seemed "flukish" too. We were going to try a potential investigator at these apartments, but before we got to her door, we stopped and talked to these two women who were sitting on the roof drinking and smoking, and one of them asked if we would come upstairs and teach her 5 year old son. We were slightly shocked, but hey, OF COURSE we went and taught her son. He had been through a lot of abuse by his father and his step brother, and he told us that God didn't exist because He didn't help him. We taught him about prayer, and he prayed with us and said he already felt better. It was so sweet. The good news is, we are going back to teach him and his mom at least once a week. They were so sweet, and so ready to hear the gospel! It will help that little boy and his mother more than anything else can. :)

I'm terribly sorry that this email is short... But I am fresh out of time. I love you very much, and I can't wait to tell you more next week! Les quiero! Asta la proxima! 

Love Always,

Sister Nicole Guilott

P.S. The good stuff. I don't know what was up with cats this week...
"This describes our relationship quite well. :)"

Monday, July 6, 2015

Land of the Free

The Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays (not just because the fireworks remind me of Disneyland), and this was an exceptionally good one! The week was mostly very sad, but Heavenly Father loves me and He sure knows how to cheer me up. The reason it was sad at first was because my dear companion, Sister Hayes, had to go home early. Missions are difficult things, and sometimes it is just too much to handle. We talked about it with President Taylor, and he came to the conclusion that the best thing for her would be to figure things out at home. We were both sad, but it is what needed to happen. She flew home at 5:30 in the morning on the Fourth of July, and I was left to be in a trio with the Hermanas that we live with. I was worried that I would be ET'd (Emergency Transferred) out of Longview and sent to be in a trio with some missionaries somewhere else in the mission, but President decided that there was too much happening in Mint Valley to have no missionaries here. So instead, he is having me stay with the Hermanas for my last four weeks, and we will just be "Zebra Missionaries," which means we cover both MY ward and their Spanish Branch. We are just combining the work, which makes us twice as busy as we were before. :) I get to learn a little bit of Spanish before I come home, and we get to be busier than we've ever been before. What a way to finish my mission! There will literally not be a single free minute. We will have appointments every hour of every day and the time we aren't teaching, we will be driving from one place to another. I'll miss Sister Hayes, but I'm sure not gonna let anything hold me back from working my hardest! We made sure that her departure wasn't too sad by eating at Red Lobster with the Rowley's. :) 
On Friday night, all four of us went to the Mission Home to spend the night so Sister Hayes and the Taylor's could leave by 3:30 in the morning and we wouldn't have to get up 2 hours earlier than that. When we woke up at 6:30, the Taylor's were back and they fed us breakfast. We had a good time with just President and Sister Taylor for a 4th of July breakfast. :) It was fun. That day, we did some work, taught a few people, combined our schedules for the next couple of weeks, made some plans, then partied! Well, the missionary definition of party. Haha! We went to Lake Sacajawea in Longview where they had a firework show and a bunch of booths set up for a big festival! It was super fun. All 5 of us Hermanas (hehe, that means me too!) set up blankets together and watched the fireworks, and we got to stay out till 11:30!!!! Woah. That's super late. ;) It sure was fun though!
"Our last night together."

"Can't forget cherries on the 4th of July!"
We had so much fun! It was the best possible way to get my mind off of my companion having to go home. This year's 4th of July was great too because I had an extra appreciation for the freedom of our country. Why did they come seeking freedom in the first place? For freedom of RELIGION. God SOOOOO doesn't do random! We needed to have freedom of religion in order for there to be a Restoration of the Gospel, and the timing was all perfect. God' plan is so incredibly perfect! I am so grateful for this free land where we have been able to follow God's full Gospel and worship the way He wants us to. I love Him so much, He has been so merciful to me, and I couldn't be more grateful for all He has done for me. Don't forget to thank Him for His perfect plan of happiness and for blessing you with a free country. I'm proud to be an American! And I'm proud to be a Missionary and servant of the Lord! I love you! I'll talk to you next week!

Love Always,

Sister Nicole Guilott

P.S. Check out these scriptures in the Book of Mormon and figure out who (in relation to freedom and a Restoration) they are talking about: 1 Nephi 13:12 and 2 Nephi 3:14-15

P.P.S. More Pictures!!!!!! I love these girls so much!