Monday, December 29, 2014

'Twas a Jolly Holiday

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! Oh boy oh boy, I love Christmas. This was my first Christmas ever away from home... That was strange. But it wasn't hard until I hung up the skype call to my family. There's no snow here, we didn't have a real tree nor any real decorations, and we didn't do half the things I normally do on Christmas, so it really didn't feel like the Holidays much at all. But as soon as I talked to my family and they were all in their Christmas pajamas sitting in my family room opening presents and what not, it suddenly felt like Christmas and I felt like I was missing out on it for the first time. So that was a little bit sad, but it's okay. I am where I need to be right now, and I am grateful I have been able to invite people to come closer to Christ during the season that celebrates His birth. :) 

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's start with Christmas Eve! That day, we went around delivering Christmas presents and companionship carols to as many people as we could. The sky was super pretty and it was freezing cold and we had a great time. Singing duets was fun, and helped us to feel the Christmas spirit as well as bringing it to others through music. That was nice. I only got one picture with the pretty sky, but you can't really tell. Oh well!
That night, we ate dinner with the Steinegal's! I adore them. They had a bunch of friends over who are nonmembers, so it was fun to talk to them about the true meaning of Christmas while we were there. One of them even sewed us each some cute little ornaments while we there and gave them to us when we left! It was so sweet of her. We did a service project while we were there too! We made a candy house for a Battered Women's shelter nearby. It was super fun! 
It was wonderful. :) When we got home that night, we had our own mini celebration with Apple Cider Martinelli's and Ghirardelli chocolates. It was yummy. We also took one present each from our "stash" and opened a Christmas Eve gift. I found decorations in mine! Pretty snowflake lights that added just the right touch to my snowflake papers in our bedroom. It looked lovely. 
Christmas morning, we woke up, arranged our presents, finished our advent calendars, and opened our gifts. I got a lot of wonderful things that I needed, and a few extra things that were nice little surprises. Thank you for making my Christmas wonderful! It sure was a good one. The best part of the day though, was when I got to skype mi familia! Oh man, I am so glad we got to talk on Christmas. I miss the fam so so much! There was no better way to celebrate Christmas than talking with family. 
It was definitely a Christmas morning to remember. So was the rest of our day... And our weekend... Our dinner appointment for Christmas night had told us the night before that they all had the flu and didn't think it'd be a good idea to have us over, but then called on Christmas Day claiming a "Christmas Miracle" and saying they all magically felt better, so we ate dinner at their house. Saturday night, it hit me and I've been throwing up ever since. My companion caught it yesterday. Lovely, right? What a nice Christmas gift! Haha we are finally starting to feel better though, so we are okay. 

Besides Christmas and Christmas Eve, we had a few cool things happen. The first was on Monday night after we had spent some of our Pday at Erica's house hanging out and stuff. They were leaving for Maryland the next morning for Christmas, so we said goodbye and went to work. However, when we left, we both felt frustrated because we didn't know where to go. We were heading downtown to go visit some people, but neither of us felt good about it, so we pulled over and said a prayer. The answer we got was to go back to Erica's... But we are ALWAYS there and we just came from there, so we figured that couldn't be right. However, the longer we pondered, the more we thought of going back. So eventually we did, and it turned out to be exactly where we needed to be. We helped Erica pack and chatted and watched some uplifting videos. It was great. 

The other cool story happened on Friday, after we went to the mission office to pick up a package and drop some referral information off. We were in the office with all the office missionaries, just chatting about our Christmas and having a good old time, when Sister Borchardt and I both stopped and looked at each other, then announced that we had to go. We didn't even really say goodbye, we sort of just left, but we didn't know why. As we walked out of the mission office, we got a text from an investigator saying, "Hey girls, I'm in a really low point right now, so please pray for me. I need to get out of this hole I'm in." We told her we had just left the office and had nothing planned and could be there in 15 minutes. It was so cool that the spirit touched both of us and told us we needed to leave so we could go visit with our investigator! God is so aware of His children, and He will always send help when He knows they need it. Whether it be missionaries, neighbors, or simply an answer to your prayer found in scripture, He will always answer us. :) 

This Christmas was different for sure, but wonderful. I'm so grateful I have had the opportunity to be serving God full time, especially during the Christmas season. I am so excited for the New Year and the chance to improve my quality of missionary work. I'm definitely gonna step it up! And I know that 2015 will bring many a miracle! Time to forget myself and go to work! I love you!!! 

Love Always,

Sister Nicole Guilott

P.S. We take ugly selfies sometimes. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

A New Decade

Woah! "I'm old! Oh, I'm like the crypt keeper!" Name that movie. ;) I can't believe that I turned 20 this week. That feels so old! I still remember wanting my 16th birthday to come faster, and now I'm 4 years past that. So crazy! It was my only birthday on the mission, and it was a pretty good one! Thank you to all who sent me messages, posts, and cards. It made me feel absolutely wonderful. :) People couldn't have been kinder to me, so I'm very grateful. 
The day before my birthday, we had District meeting. It was a dang good one too! We learned about being able to recognize the spirit, and how we can help teach others how to recognize it as well. Very powerful meeting. Our district is pretty cool if I do say so myself. After the meeting, we all decided to just stay and eat lunch there at the mission office, so as we were all pulling out lunches out, my District Leader, Elder Rankin, pulled out a red velvet cake from out of nowhere and had us all go outside to light the candles and sin happy birthday to me and Sister Hutchison (her birthday was on Sunday). It was so sweet of him! I didn't think they even knew about our birthdays, so it was a pleasant surprise. 
Isn't that nice? I sure thought so. On my actual birthday, we ate dinner with the Bristow's, then went over to Erica's (and they had presents for me! It was so sweet), then came home to find a cute package from home and a present left at the house from a family at lives in Camas but used to be in my homeward in Pleasant Grove? It was the nicest surprise! 
Over all, I had an absolutely phenomenal birthday. It felt very special because of all the people who showed me love and expressed their appreciation for me. So thank you to all! :) On Thursday, we had kind of a fun experience... Haha. A lady had called me and Sister Borchardt a few months ago and asked us if we could come sing Christmas carols to her residents. She works at an assisted living home, and I guess the missionaries came and sang at their Christmas party last year, and they liked us so they wanted us to come sing again! We thought it would be a wonderful way to do some Christmas service, so we invited the whole zone to come along and carol. When we showed up originally, there was just us two and four elders.  We have a zone of 26 missionaries, so we were disappointed and worried we wouldn't be able to be heard in front of all the residents of this home. When we got inside however, there were only 4 people there at the party... It was so awkward. But we got singing anyway! Over time, all 26 of us showed up and sang to those 4 people. I can not express how terribly awkward it was for all of us. They dished up some food and were eating while chatting amongst themselves, every once in a while looking over at us and listening to our "choir." Oh man, it was hilarious. Definitely one of those stories to tell my children when they ask for mission stories. It was dang funny. 

On Saturday, we went on exchanges. I went to Salmon Creek with Sister Fitt, while Sister Borchardt stayed here with Sister Schmoekel. It was a good exchange! We had a good time learning together, and we had one lesson in particular that was notable. We were tracting, and the 8th person we talked to invited us in to discuss our beliefs. We thought it would be a new investigator for sure, but he and his wife were only interested in converting us while still learning everything they could about our religion. He said that he had studied Mormonism thoroughly and he had found many "inconsistencies" between the Bible and he Book of Mormon, but he had never read the Book of Mormon, and he reads a different version of the Bible. All in all, it was a very interesting lesson, and they want to know more so we are exchanging again on Tuesday so we can both teach them. That will probably be the only time we go back, but we sure learned a lot about other people's beliefs. It definitely made me even more grateful that we have the complete truth. Being able to know that God is our Heavenly Father and always has been, that He has a body and is separate from Christ and the Holy Ghost, and that God still speaks to us today is such a blessing! I would feel... Incomplete if I didn't believe in those things. I mean, why would God only choose to talk to His children during biblical times? He loves ALL of us, so of course He communicates with us today! I'm just very grateful to have that knowledge and to have a close relationship with Him and with Christ. :) 

Yesterday, we had the Christmas program at church. A few days ago, a member of the bishopric called and asked if I would be in charge of the music, so I said yes and he gave me the program. I guess when he said music, he meant THE WHOLE PROGRAM. I had to call and make sure someone was willing to play the piano, someone was narrating, the primary kids were singing, etc. I thought I was going to die. We didn't have the music for one of the songs, so Sister Borchardt and I sang a primary song accapella instead. That was scary. The good news is, the whole program went pretty smoothly. At the end of it, another member of the bishopric got up and shared a thought he had as the program was going on that I thought was kind of cool. Christ was born in very humble circumstances: a manger of hay in a stable where the shepherds brought their flocks to eat. Christ is often referred to as "the bread of life," so how tender that He was born in a place where people came to be spiritually filled, uplifted and edified. Christ loves His flocks, and so do we: our friends, our family, our neighbors, and anyone we talk to is considered His flock. We should be doing all we can to bring each other unto Christ, to partake of the bread of life, and be made whole. I love this Christmas season, and I am so grateful to know my Savior, Jesus Christ, personally, and I'm even more grateful for all He has done for me. I love my Savior, and I love that everyone else is remembering Him at this special time of year! I can't wait to talk to the Fam Bam on Christmas! Only 3 more days!!! Agh! I love you! Have a very Merry Christmas! 

Love Always,

Sister Nicole Guilott 

P.S. More pictures. :)
"Christmas pajamas!  Thanks Mom!"
"It's name is Nagini!"
"Comp unity. :)"
"Pecan Tartlets . . . Mmmmm . . ."
"The wild rabbit that we were afraid was going to attack us like Monte Python . . . "

Monday, December 15, 2014

I Still Serve God

Hello hello. This week was a tad bit slower, but that was for multiple reasons: I got sick, my companion and I both were in the "Holiday Away from Home Slums," and my Facebook got shut off! 

Speaking of which,  I must apologize for my name being "Nicole Guilott (Sister Guilott)" on Facebook now rather than "SisterNicole Guilott." Don't worry, I am still a missionary. Facebook deleted my account completely because it said my name was not my real name. I am the only person this has happened to so far because I have so much traffic through my page. Hundreds of messages and 800+ friend requests (that I have not responded to) because of my video. So I had to submit a picture of my ID and an appeal as to why I want my Facebook back. At first they rejected my request, so I wrote another appeal and said I would be willing to compromise and have my current title be in parenthesis next to my actual name. So they changed my name for me and said this: "Please keep in mind that you'll no longer be able to update your name from your settings, if you need to change your name in the future (ex: you get married), please fill out this form." I was pretty furious. But it is what it is. I am still a missionary and I am still serving with all my heart, might, mind and strength! Never fear. 

Despite the crazy of the week, we still saw miracles! We had a wonderful Pday last week, hanging out with the Bristow Girls in our footie pajamas! They are my favorite. The Bristow's I mean. Okay and footies. :) 
They are the best. At Bible Study this week, prayers were answered for some of the residents who attended, and it was a heartwarming miracle! Before we started reading, one of the residents expressed a concern he had and that he was praying about, and the chapter ended speaking directly about the concern he voiced!!! It strengthened everyone's testimony and made them all feel like praying and reading their scriptures more! Haha it was wonderful. 

Thursday night, the power was out. The wind gets crazy here and blows trees down and there's forest debris everywhere! And this week's wind storm caused the power to be out for a while. Our dinner appointment called us and let us know that the power had been out, so the food might be a bit cold, but that they would feed us no matter what! ...yay. Cold food. Well when we got there, the power was on! They said that just seconds before we knocked on the door, the power came on! Our dinner was still on the colder side, but we ate in the light. We found out later that five minutes after we left, the power went off again. I guess we bring the light with us or something! Unfortunately, Sister Borchardt got food poisoning. So we ended up at Erica's for the rest of the night where the power was off and we taught in the candle light. :) I thought it was lovely. Sister B did not... Haha! 

We had yet ANOTHER miracle lesson with Annalee on Friday. We keep getting so nervous before every lesson with her because we feel unworthy to teach her, but we are always so happy when we leave! This time, she told us that ever since last week she has been so excited about baptism!!!! And we didn't even invite her! She told us though that she would definitely have to pray about it, although she is pretty sure she knows what the answer is going to be. :) We are overjoyed. Her one concern was that she knows God isn't going to stop blessing her just because she isn't baptized by a certain person, and I responded with a scripture in Mosiah 18:8-10. And I explained to her that of course blessings aren't going to cease if she doesn't get baptized, but they will increase if she does. Verse 10 says, "Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?" So really it would just be allowing God to open a flood gate and pour out the spirit more abundantly upon her. She liked that answer. I am always amazed when I am able to open my mouth and the spirit fills it with words. :) It was the right answer, and it was amazing. I love Annalee! 

On Saturday, we had the ward Christmas party where we sang "Mary Let Me Hold Her Baby" from the forgotten carols in front of everyone, ate yummy food, and had more people to talk to than we knew what to do with. There were at least 12 nonmembers there, Annalee and a few others from Bible Study included, and we were just busy busy busy all night long! It was crazy! TONS of less actives and part member families were there too, so by the end of the night, we were tired. But it was so worth it! 

I had started getting sick on Wednesday, but because I knew we were singing at the ward party on Saturday, I willed myself to stay healthy enough to sing! I succeeded, but as soon as it was over, the sickiness came at full force. I woke up yesterday morning with a sore throat, plugged ears and nose, aches all over, and a hard time breathing. Sister Roniger commanded that I stay home and rest, so I had a blessing and we went on exchanges so that Sister Borchardt could be at church for our investigators who planned on coming. Guddi came! She went to church all on her own! It's a Christmas miracle. When Sister Borchardt got back from church, she informed me that I would be leading the Christmas program this upcoming Sunday because the music person is going to be out of town. Whoopdido. Nah, I'm excited. :) It'll be good! If I'm not still sick and have no voice... Haha! Despite being sick and losing my Facebook and all that good stuff, I am still a servant of the Lord! And I LOVE doing His work. :)

Well I love you all very much and I am excited about this upcoming week. According to Sister Borchardt, I am turning the age of perfection. No longer in my teens, but not quite a legal adult, so I'm technically nobody. And NOBODY'S PERFECT!!! Haha I'm excited to turn 20. It'll be strange to be away from home, and even worse if I'm still sick, but it'll be all good nonetheless because I am a missionary. And this is the only birthday I get on the mission, so of COURSE it'll be a good one! Till next week! 

Love Always,

Sister Nicole Guilott

P.S. I had real sushi for the first time. It was scrumptious. :)

Monday, December 8, 2014

'Tis the Season to be a Missionary

Missionary life is wonderful. Probably the best thing ever, actually. And getting together with a bunch of other missionaries is the best feeling in the world! On Tuesday, we had the annual Mission Christmas Conference, and it was amazing! We started the day by going to the temple. It was cool because our ENTIRE session was filled with only missionaries. There were, I think, 3 zones that were in my session, and the spirit was SOOOO strong! Stronger than I've ever felt. I mean, I've felt it spiritually super strong before, but this time I could feel an actual physical pressure in my chest. It was the coolest thing ever! I don't think I've ever been able to feel the spirit so physically like that, and it was amazing how tangible it was this time... And it didn't go away for the whole session! When we were in the Celestial room and all the missionaries were in there praying and taking time to be close to God, the pressure in my chest increased, and I had some incredibly powerful answers to my prayers. My Heavenly Father loves me, and I am so grateful I got to feel more of His presence this week.
"Sister Burraston's companion rode in a different car,
so she joined our companionship for a temple picture. :) "
After the temple, we all met up at the Vancouver Stake Center for the rest of the conference. We had a program of sorts, were we sang songs and recited some little memorized scripts to invite the spirit and help us remember the true meaning of Christmas: that HE IS THE GIFT!!!! It was lovely. :) We ate dinner together and mingled for quite a while too, and I got to see ALL of my past companions (except for Sister Kearl because she is home now)!!! The only ones I didn't take pictures with were Sister Maughan (my MTC companion) and Sister Borchardt. But here's all the rest of them!
Sister Major
Sister Rasmussen
Sister Duff
Sister Cone
Sister Lammi
Aren't they cute??? I love each of those Sisters so so much! It's weird how fast time flies... Spending time with each of those Sisters on Tuesday reminded me of the feelings I had when I was serving with them in my previous areas. It was a good feeling! But such different feelings for each one of them. I'm so grateful for the time I had with those wonderful Sisters. I have definitely learned much from each of them. :)

There are two really great experiences I wanted to share with you from this week. On Wednesday, we had tried to contact a referral that we had received of a man who was living in the VA named Brother Long. We knew nothing about him, but we gathered that if he lives in the VA he is most likely old and frail. When we found his room, he wasn't there, so we left a note with our number on it and went on our merry way. Later that night, we were checking our phone and we had a voicemail from him! It was the cutest message in the world. It started with a nurse saying, "Now you can leave your message," and then the sweetest old man voice ever saying something like, "This is Brother Long. I am here at the... the..." then the nurse, "The VA," and Brother Long, "The VA." etc. etc. He told us to come visit him whenever we had time. It was seriously adorable. So the next day we went back to the VA to try again. When we walked into the room, he was sleeping so we sat there trying to decide if we wake him up or just come back another day, and he must have heard us because he opened his eyes and lifted his head with the BIGGEST and gummiest smile I have ever seen as he exclaimed, "The Missionaries!!!!" He was so so sweet! He asked us to stay and talk with him a while because he doesn't ever have visitors, so of course we made ourselves comfy and stayed for at least a good hour. We hardly talked because he had so much to say, and we could only understand about every 20th word, but we smiled and nodded and it just made him SO happy! It was the best experience!

On Friday, we had another miracle lesson with Annalee. We were planning on teaching her the rest of the Plan of Salvation and then going on into the Gospel of Christ, starting with the 3 kingdoms of glory. RIGHT before we started teaching, she said this: "I have a question for you guys before we start. Do you believe that there are multiple places in Heaven for us to live according to our individual comfort? I mean, we are all so different!" Our jaws dropped. We taught her about the 3 kingdoms and then asked her how she came to know this already and she said, "The Spirit taught me a long time ago." It was amazing! She has been so prepared for us to teach her the fullness of Christ's gospel! But wait, there's more! As we were teaching her the Gospel of Christ, she asked us if we could always walk in the spirit. We didn't really understand her question because there was more to it and we weren't sure which direction to take it, but as we continued to teach the lesson, we came to the gift of the Holy Ghost she stopped us. She said, "So people DO walk around with the that spirit today?" And we were like, yes! She told us that is something she only felt once in her life and she has longed to feel it again, but she wasn't sure if it was possible until Christ came back to the earth. It was amazing! We told her that she could have that constant companionship of the Holy Ghost after baptism by the proper authority, and we invited her to pray about it. Hopefully, we will be able to set a date when we see her this week. It was so cool! God is preparing His children all over the world, and it is our responsibility to find them and bring them this knowledge! Annalee has known all along that this is truth, but she didn't realize that it was actual doctrine that Christ taught when He was on the earth. Most of the people who are ready for the Gospel simply don't know where to find it!

"For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it—" 
- Doctrine and Covenants 123:12

Being able to spend so much time with all the other missionaries in the mission, and then having these experiences, I know that there are people everywhere who are waiting for the light and happiness that this Gospel brings them. I challenge each of you to get out there and find ONE person this Christmas season who needs to know the fullness of this Gospel. Find a way to share the gift of Christ. He is what the Holidays are all about! I love you! Talk to you next week!

Love Always,
Sister Nicole Guilott

P.S. More Pictures!
"Our whole zone plus the Stake Presidency at a zone breakfast.  There are a lot of us!"
Elder and Sister McCurdy are some of the office missionaries that finished their mission the day after the Christmas Conference... They are sorely missed, but I am so grateful for their friendship and the amazing spirit they share.

The BEST food of the Holidays! Pecan Tartlets!

Monday, December 1, 2014

One and Only

Thanksgiving was absolutely perfect. This is the only Thanksgiving that I will have on my entire mission, and it was very well spent. The whole week was pretty much Thanksgiving actually, because we had so many turkey dinners and so much to do! I felt so much love and gratitude for my Savior and my Heavenly Father and for all the blessing and privileges I have. Simply being here on a mission has been a huge privilege in and of itself, along with the chance I have to meet all these wonderful people here in Washington and having a forever family waiting for me back home. I am just so so grateful!!!
"That's right, I actually CONTRIBUTED to Thanksgiving!"
All the good stuff started in Wednesday. We volunteered to help put together a Thanksgiving dinner for the people who live at the Central Park Place where we teach our Bible Study class. So we showed up at 11, cooked for 3 hours, then stayed there and served 50+ plus people until about 3:30 or 4. I don't know how to describe the immense feelings of happiness, joy, and true thanksgiving I felt that day. Spending one of my favorite holidays simply serving people is the best thing I have ever done! For a lot of those people, their only Thanksgiving was the one we provided. Most of them don't have family or friends near by, at least not sober ones that they can trust and stay clean around, so it felt super cool to be providing the central part of a main holiday for these people. They were so sweet and grateful and they wanted to know everything about us! It was very very sweet. 
"The lingering residents eating the food we prepared for them."
"I cut the ham all by myself!"
"Sister B with her Pink Fluff.  It was more like Pink Goop the first time though . . ."
Those are all pictures from the event at Central Park Place. It was perfect and wonderful and spiritual and amazing! I loved every minute of it. :) The next day was the ACTUAL Thanksgiving day. We made our yummy treats again (Pink Goop was actually Pink Fluff this time, and my yams were done the right way), which everyone enjoyed, and we ate at Erica's house. :) I just love those people! She had 4 friends over, herself and her two girls, her friend's two children, and the Sister Missionaries from the Young Single Adult Ward. It was AWESOME! We had a wonderful time in each others company, and we were stuffed by the end! 

"Bishop Swanger knew that I love pecan pie, so he made me one! And he and his wife made us mini pies too! Isn't that sweet?"
It was simply wonderful. Thanksgiving night, President had invited our zone to come over to his house for his famous pies. :) That was a blast! We mingled, ate pie, and then Sister Taylor asked me if I would be willing to perform some sort of a musical number. I was nervous, but I can't say no to the Mission President's wife! So I picked a Thanksgiving hymn, and after I played it and sang it, everyone wanted to sing Christmas hymns together! So I stayed at the piano and accompanied my zone and the office missionaries and we all sang Christmas hymns together. It was wonderful. The spirit was super strong, and we were all smiling and just having a jolly old time together. :)
"Selfies with President!"
"I told him to make a funny face. :P"
It was a perfect day! The day AFTER Thanksgiving, we taught a wonderful lesson to our sweet Annalee in the morning, then headed to the church for our 3rd feast. It was with a member family in the ward who had a bunch family in from all over the country, and they held their Thanksgiving feast at the church. So that was a cool opportunity for us to explain the church building and teach a little bit over some turkey. Needless to say, the tryptophan has yet to wear off... So much turkey!!!
All in all, my Thanksgiving week was perfect. I couldn't have asked for a better way to spend the only Thanksgiving that I will have on my mission. It was all happiness and joy and service and full tummies. I am grateful for the opportunity I have to serve, and I am so excited about this next holiday coming up... Christmas!!! I love you all, and I will talk to you next week!
Love Always,

Sister Nicole Guilott
"My favorite Rodriguez family came to visit us for lunch on the weekend!"
"We found a bat in the caves last week.  Forgot to show you."
"This little guy sat next to me at his sister's baptism last Sunday and drew me the
cutest picture of the temple.  He is so sweet!"
"This is where the great chicken massacre took place . . ."

"President has a beautiful painting of Joseph Smith in his house, and we had to take a picture with it.
The First Vision is so powerful!"