Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Skyping at Christmas and 28 December - Week 9

Hello to everyone!

Skyping with Elder Gilbert on Christmas day was amazing!! It was so great to see him and hear his voice. He is doing great and loving the work. He specifically asked that I thank you all for your thoughts, prayers, notes, emails and gifts - he says it's y'all that help keep him going! :) He and his new companion Elder Hyde are doing well and still getting along great - remember Elder Hyde is from Las Cruces? How awesome is that?? They have made an agreement to work hard and play hard - music to a mom's ears :D Elder Hyde is the District Leader and not much new has been happening, so they have decided to kind of start over in their area - they are going to clean up the records and go back through all the paperwork, making sure no one has fallen through the cracks. Then they are hitting the streets! Johnny says they bike ride somewhere between 10-12 miles a day - he loves his Ecco shoes!! Anyway, it was so wonderful to get to see and hear him - can't wait for Mother's Day :D

On Monday we emailed a bit, but we both were pretty low key - in case anyone reading this doesn't already know, we have moved to Tucson (!) and are almost done unpacking  boxes - hooray! Johnny says it has been raining a ton in Wetumpka and it limits the work they are able to accomplish, which they find a little frustrating. He is also getting a little tired of the weather radio going off, but is grateful for the heads up and even more grateful no actual tornadoes have come very close! Anyway, he says hello to everyone :D Oh, I asked him how we at home can help better support the missionaries in our ward. He asks that the members make every effort to go with the missionaries to help teach - they are being taught that people stay active MUCH more often when they have local ward members helping with the initial teaching. Every Member a Missionary, right??

Love to you all and Happy New Year!!!

It floods here...

We got some rain.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

21 December 2015 - Week 8

So on Wednesday we drove up to Birmingham for transfer meeting and Elder Bullock is out. He is now in Ensley. It is in Birmingham and its like the scariest place in the mission.  He says he hears gunshots like every night, but he is doing what he is supposed to do so we pray he will be alright. I'm still in Wetumpka and my new comp is Elder Hyde. He is from Las Cruces. lol Yepp His family owns the dairy farms right there in cowtown. So he grew up on the farm and he is super chill. We are like the same person just 2 years apart. He only has 4 months left. He is a Texas A&M fan lol. We should get him some tech stuff! But he is really cool. We both understand that we need to work hard and play hard. He loves to fish! Just bought a pole and rod! So we will go out on the Coosa later today. We have decided to work out hard, so with my sups and his p90x we are going to hit it hard. We just bought salad stuff:/ and a pull-up bar. This transfer is really long (7 weeks) so we are hitting the grind. We already have some new investigators that we met a few days ago and they came to church yesterday! Elder Hyde is District Leader so it is cool to see first hand what that is like. We are trying getting some basketball games started. Elder Hyde is a soccer player. He was going to go play in college but broke his leg sooo that's not happening but he still plays and has his cleats out here! This transfer is going to be awesome.

From John's Mom - sorry the message is so short this week and no pictures - much of his time was spent working on skype information so I can talk to him on Christmas Day!! I can't wait!!!!! Then also they were planning on fishing right after sending a few emails... :D

Merry Christmas To All!!! 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Staying in Wetumpka!! 14 December 2015 - Week 7

So I'm staying in Wetumpka!!! And Elder Bullock is being transferred, so I will have a new companion on Wednesday. I have learned so much from Elder Bullock - I will miss him! So this week was crazy! on the 12th was '"Christmas on the Coosa" which is a huge festival thing down town, they do a huge parade! (like our Franklin homecoming one) but for Christmas! then there are lots of shops and food! like in little tents and there was a boat parade! where Santa water-skies!! with fireworks and everything! it was crazy! Grandma Theora, i thought about you the whole time! After my mission, you and i have a date to Christmas on the Coosa!

oh we had a talent show at the Christmas party and Elders Van Dyke, Posadas, Richter, Kitner and I 
sang "Country Roads" lol

Also this week I asked Elder Gilbert to give us an idea of what a typical day is like - here is his response :)

ok so on a normal missionary day (if there is such a thing) we wake up at 6:30 and work out, shower get dressed and ready for the day and breakfast, then from 8-9 is personal study, that's where i try to get my 9 pages a day read, and do my tabb things and study talks, one hour is really not enough! but then form 9-10 is companion study, that;s usually where i ask bullock all these crazy stuff like about kolob and stuff, I'm really starting to love that deep doctrine stuff but then he tells me "dude basics" you don't need to know that stuff to be a missionary, I'm like i know but it's awesome! then from 10-11 we do this "first 12 weeks" program thing that teaches me how to be a missionary, look up scriptures and watch videos n stuff. then we finally get out of the apartment and go teach people if we have set lessons (most people say,come back Thursday) so that's when we just try and see everyone. We have lunch around 1 and dinner is usually at 6 and sometimes it's with a family. then we usually go to Walmart and try to store-contact which is super awkward but whatever it/s the only place we can find people. Then were back to our app at 9 and in bed by 10:30. crazy random things happen everyday!, like we were riding our bikes and this guy is just chillin' outside smoking and he waves us over. In my head head i was like "great this guy us going to give us a hard time or yell at us or something" so we pull over and start talking to this guy. He noticed that Elder Bullock didn't have any lights on his bike (like I do). So this guy pulls out his wallet and gave elder bullock 30 bucks and tells him to go buy a light. Then he goes on to explain that he only has 9 months to live because of cancer. He just wanted to help us out and thanked us for all that we do. Crazy stuff like that happens all the time!

Bamboo in Alabama!!??

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

7 December 2015 - Week 6

So this week was a crazy week. Well its just been a crazy month! We made the pens on Monday, then on Tuesday we drove up to Birmingham (about an hour away) with our Zone Leaders and stayed the night with the APs. (Assistants to the President, like the highest up you can go as a missionary) we're pretty close to them they are really cool guys! Elder Van Dyke is like pro at basketball! He played at University of Utah and is going back to play after his mission! Papa look him up (Parker Van Dyke) and keep an eye on him! I'm pretty sure he will try and go pro. He was looking at UofA to go play basketball there but Utah gave him a better deal. The other AP Elder Posates is from Honduras! He's really cool and super nice! So we stayed the night there (we do that a lot when we go to Birmingham) and we played basketball that night. Then on Wednesday we went to the temple! It was really cool. It's kinda small, it's about the same size and it reminded me a lot of the Juarez temple! Then Wednesday night we stayed with the Zone Leaders in Prattville and had an exchange (when you switch companions for a day) all day Thursday. It was really cool to be able to work and hangout with Elder R - I've learned a lot from him so far! Oh and Elder R and i have made a commitment, we are reading B.O.M. (Book Of Mormon) in 1 transfer (6 weeks). So we are reading 9 pages a day. Today is the first day so idk (Mom Note: this is short for "I don't know") how its going to go yet!

me in between elder richter and elder kettner our zone leaders

Mom and Margie you guys better be working-out!! I have gotten really close to one of our recent converts and his name is K. K is ex-military like 3 tours or something crazy and ex-bodybuilder! He works or knows somebody that owns a supplement company so he gave me a whole garbage bag full of supplements! I'm soooo excited!!! Kelly just received the Aaronic Priesthood and passed the sacrament on Sunday! I think he will Bless it next Sunday!  So I started my workouts today! Mom and Margie you guys better start if you haven't!

Papa I thought of you yesterday, (thank you for making me practice that stupid thing) I did my first anointing yesterday and there was no practice time, i just had to do it, and yes the name was kinda crazy. 
So last night was the Christmas devotional from the 1st presidency, idk if you guys were able to watch it but it was really cool! Elders Bednar and Uchtdorf are amazing as always! Grandma Theora i thought about you - so i think we have every Ensign ever made! You would love our collection in our apartment. we have them from 1979 every issue all the way to 2015! 
Oh sometime during the week, I cant remember when, Elder B and I helped this guy chop down banana trees in his yard! It was crazy! (Mom Note: he sent a short video of this - I will try to paste it into the blog but I'm not sure if it will work - Fingers crossed!)

But all is well from Alabama! Thank you everyone for all the birthday and Christmas stuff - it all will be eaten and used! Talk to you guys later, -Elder Gilbert

 fake snow :)

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

30 November 2015 - Week 5


So this past week has been crazy! So last Monday we went down to Montgomery and had a multi-zone activity, we all played football and then went over to Brother M's house. He is like the biggest lawyer in Montgomery, he is like an old Harvey Specter! He payed for all of us to eat a thanksgiving meal in his amazing (office) house, This house was built in 1888 and he completely restored it! It was amazing! So for dinner instead of a traditional turkey we had alligator and craw-fish! It was so good!! I have videos of the house and dinner but they are too big to email, we need to look into like google drive or something so we can send bigger stuff to each other.

So for real thanksgiving we were invited over to the bishops and his family. They are so awesome! There were like 5 or 7 kids there it was crazy and a lot of people and food! Then after dinner we went outside and played soccer with all the kids. It was really cool!

So I keep saying this but its just so true, Southern Hospitality is a Real Thing! We literally crashed a thanksgiving dinner! We were just riding our bikes down the street and we were like "dude i bet we could get a another dinner" so we pull up  to a house with a lot of cars in front and there are some guys out front and we start talking to them and they invite us in and we had another thanksgiving dinner! This family was so funny and awesome! We ate dinner to the song "Hit the Quan" playing on the TV while they took turns dancing! It was so crazy!

So something funny happened on Saturday. So Saturday was the iron bowl (Alabama vs. Auburn) and we walk up and knock on this house and this huge white guy answers, and says "WHAT DO YOU WANT" we were like "uhh Ober told us to stop by" and this guy is like "NO YOUR BAD LUCK BECAUSE AUBURN JUST SCORED" and just slammed the door! I guess auburn had just scored right before we knocked on his door, but it was so funny!

Oh Grandma Theora - I found your (fixer upper)!! haha

So today we were talking to our neighbor and he is a super nice old guy! And he makes pens out of wood and sells them! So we were talking about it and we ended up making our own pens! It was so cool! We started from scratch with just a block of wood and like 4 hours later we had a pen! And he took us to lunch! It was one of the coolest and most unique and unexpected birthday gifts! And I'm pretty sure he didn't even know it was my birthday!

Oh - watch this video - it's cool!


Oh and I saw a house burn down!! It was crazy!! See the giant burn hole in the roof!!!?

Thank you to everyone who sent me birthday wishes and packages! It's been an awesome birthday!

A final note from Elder Gilbert's Mom - thanks to you all for responding so quickly to John's cry for food! He says so many people sent him food boxes and gift cards he is doing great now and figuring some things out - thanks to you all!! And a shout out to Uncle Bown and Wikipedia:

 "The name Wetumpka is a historic Creek place word meaning "rumbling waters", supposedly a description of the sound of the nearby Coosa River as the water falls over the rapids of the Devil's Staircase. It could be heard for miles before the construction of dams.”


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

23 November 2015 - Week 4

Hello Everyone! Elder Gilbert was on the run this week and did not have time for an actual letter but he was able to send a few emails back and forth with his mom :) Johnny is doing well this week and happily very busy. He seems to be getting along well with his Trainer Elder B and his main frustrations seem to revolve around the cost of food and bike tire punctures. We have sent him some better bike tire tubes, so hopefully that will take care of that issue. He has mentioned several times how much more expensive food is (they are fed twice a week by Members - our thanks to them!! But that leaves the rest of the meals for the boys to fend for themselves.) He finally gave me a concrete example - his usual box of 12 granola bars that in El Paso runs about $2.50 costs $6.00 in Wetumpka - that's quite a jump! Anyway, he specifically sent a shout out of thanks to Grandma Bobbie and his Dad for Walmart and Dollar Store gift cards - he says they have been a lifesaver!! And advanced thanks for the additional gift cards I know are coming from other family and friends for his birthday that is coming up soon!! Enjoy this pictures he sent - it looks beautifully green there and I loved the alligator sign :) Thanks as always to you all for your love, letters, prayers, and gift cards - hope you have a beautiful Thanksgiving!!

Monday, November 16, 2015

16 November 2015 - Week 3

Hey everyone! So i made it to my first P-Day! Its only been like 6 days or something but it feels like a month's worth already! I'm loving Wetumpka! It's green and the people are awesome! The people are hilarious! Every southern stereotype is absolutely 100% correct! We gave a lesson the other day wile watching the Alabama vs Mississippi game! lol. The people out here are so funny! the whole southern hospitality thing is definitely a real thing! either they don't want anything to do with us or they let us in and we talk for hours! there is like no in between! Some people are scared of us! They will see us coming and they will peel out of their driveway! It's so funny. This one lady thought we sacrificed a human every Sunday and ate it! 
 Oh i had my first baptism on Saturday! His name is J and he is so cool! I'm super proud of him! His family didn't support him at all but he knew being baptized and joining the church was the right thing to do. He was able to do so because he just turned 18 the day before so he was able to do it.

There are not really any sidewalks in Wetumpka but I'm loving my bike! The road bike was definitely the way to go! But it gets dark at like 4 o clock here! and my little $10 Walmart light died the first day! so mom could you please go to the bike shop and get that really good front charging light :P my back one works great! the charging is definitely the way to go! but there are no bike shops here so that's why I'm asking you :P

Princela has a puppy!! (Mom is assuming Princela is one of the Members in Wetumpka)

Thanks to everyone for all the letters oh and thanks for the HolyTabbs mom! that really helps a lot! I'll try and send some more pics of Wetumpka so you guys can see it!

lol one of the sisters gave me a zebra blanket because i was cold:P

Thursday, November 12, 2015

12 November 2015


Hey everyone, I finally made it to Alabama! I'm in Wetumpka, which is just a little north of Montgomery. My trainers name is Elder B and he's a red head from Calgary! :P We are getting along good. Members only feed us about twice a week so please send me food! Like shrimp ramen and Dino oatmeal. And send me letters! My address is 2375 Chapel Lakes Ln. Apt. G. Wetumpka AL 36092. Well, I only have a second to send this but thanks for all the help and letters! Keep sending them! I love everyone and please keep me in your prayers!

Your Missionary Has Arrived 11-11-15

From the Mission Secretary Sister Newman:

Your missionary arrived safely and is in his/her first area!

And from President and Sister Hanks:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Alabama Birmingham Mission

        Elder Gilbert has safely arrived in the Alabama Birmingham Mission!

We are impressed with your son and want to thank you for all that you have done in preparing this wonderful young man for his mission.  He met his new companion and traveled to his first area.

Attached are photos of Elder Gilbert, one with President and Sister Hanks and one with his Trainer, Elder Bullock.  He will bless this mission greatly with his enthusiasm and dedication. We love him and pledge our best efforts in directing his service here.
Elder Gilbert has accepted a call that will change his life and the lives of those with whom he is serving.  These first few months will be full of new and challenging experiences, and your support in the form of encouraging and uplifting letters will help him greatly.
Our greatest hope is that each missionary has a positive and growing experience, which will help give him a foundation for a lifetime of service to others. We appreciate the time you have spent raising your son to be such a responsible young man.  We thank you for your willingness to share Elder Gilbert with us.
President and Sister Hanks

Monday, November 9, 2015


Hi everyone! i just have a few minutes to type while i do some laundry, and I'm doing laundry because i gotta pack because me and the squad are leaving for bama tonight!! at 3:30am! so these next 24 hours will be epic! Thank you all for all the letters and dear elders! I love getting mail and hearing from everyone! I'm so excited to leave but it will be kinda sad, these past 2 weeks have been some of the best times of my life! My district and I have grown so close! It will be hard to leave them tonight but it will just be part of the adventure! I love you all so much and i will try to talk and email again whenever i can! With love from your Elder Gilbert

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Christmas Information

Hello Everyone!

We received the following Christmas package shipping information from Mission President Hanks today:

November 6, 2015

Dear Missionary Parent(s):

We are loving your missionaries and counting our blessings as the month of November begins. They
really are outstanding!  We honor you for raising such fine young men and women. Thank you for 
having the faith to send them and for the love and support you continue to give them.

The Christmas season is just around the corner. It will bring busy and happy times. Here in Alabama we will be celebrating the season with temple trips and two big Mission Christmas gatherings. Wewill be ringing in the season with about 200 missionaries this year.  What a blessing! 
Because we have a transfer on December 16th this year, you will not be able to wait until after 
the transfer to send a Christmas package and have any confidence that package will arrive before 
the big day. So, in order to alleviate the pressure on our office staff and insure your missionaryreceives his/her Christmas packages, we have special instructions for Christmas letters
and packages this year.  Please note the following:

1. Your missionary will determine a safe address where your Christmas letters and packages can be

2. The safe address will be either: (1) An apartment office that accepts packages for residents, 
OR a (2) ward member who lives in a secure neighborhood.

3. Your missionary will inform you of the safe address for Christmas letters and packages by 
November 16th.  We strongly recommend you get your Christmas shopping done early this year and youmail it for delivery well before the 16th of December. (The first week of December would be 
perfect.) Send it to your missionary’s safe address. 

4. If your missionary is transferred on the 16th of December, his/her Christmas packages and 
luggage will have to be transported in a small missionary car. Large Christmas packages will
not fit. There just isn’t room. Please keep this in mind. 

5. We realize this year is very complicated because of transfers falling so close to
Christmas.  So, of course, any letters or packages you send to the mission office will still be 
forwarded to your missionary. We will do our best to get them to your missionary before Christmas.

Your support means the world to your missionaries; they work with greater passion and dedication 
when they know of your love and support. We encourage you to continually send letters and
messages of encouragement.

Thank you again for all you do to sustain this great missionary work. May your entire family be 
blessed during this Christmas Season.

With much love,

President Richard D. Hanks & Sister Liz Hanks

Alabama Birmingham Mission

Birthday and Christmas

Hello Dear Friends!

It's amazing to realize John has already been gone a week - only 103 weeks to go! And as his birthday is the end of this month (he will be the big 2 - 0!!), it raises an interesting question: what the heck to you give the missionary who needs nothing and has no space to haul around anything new? Well, we are certainly not the first to have this dilemma. Most missionaries, in preparation for their mission, go on a bit of a shopping spree. Johnny called in Christmas in September. He began his mission with all new suitcases, suits, shirts, pants, belts, shoes, socks, ties, toiletries, scriptures, basically everything he would need to start out. He will certainly need some replacements along the way, but for now he is good to go. So. How can we help him celebrate his birthday? And other holidays along the way?

In asking other Missionaries and Missionary Moms their advice, they had a couple of really good ideas. No matter where he is, he will continue to need things like shampoo, deodorant, etc. He is given a small stipend each month for food and personal items, but most missionaries agree the amount allotted can be below what many of our boys are used to. An extra gift card to Walmart can help ease those birthday blues, providing for some small, nice, "extras". We are helping them to learn budgeting skills, but other Missionaries assure me a little extra at Walmart can go along way.

Another idea was to give restaurant gift cards from the area. We don't yet know where Johnny will be on his birthday. What we do know is that early cards/gifts/letters can be sent directly to the Mission Home and they will see items are delivered wherever he is. This is the address to the right on the blog. After he arrives in Alabama (we think this will be around November 10th) he will be placed somewhere and then he can give us a specific address, which I will post for everyone. Remember, his mission area includes the upper two thirds of the State, with small amounts of Tennessee and Mississippi thrown in - we have no idea which town he might be serving in. Missionaries have said they love restaurant gift cards for those times they don;t have time to get back to the apartment before heading to their next appointment.

The last idea is to contribute to Johnny's mission fund. As a family, we continue to pay for his mission each month, and any help towards this would be greatly appreciated. Mission funds are sacred and we have recently learned no tithe is required on this "income" or "increase". Contributions can be made directly to the church if you have an LDS account - indicate the Missionary information on the form, and please let me know so I can keep track of what is owed. Also, Johnny still has his bank account and can process funds, or I can process them on his behalf.

My thanks to you all for helping Elder Gilbert on his Mission. Your letters and emails to him mean more than you can possibly know. It really does take a village and we love you all! Thank you!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

3 November 2015

Today was Johnny's Pday!! A letter and pictures!! Hooray!!! :D

I'm loving the mtc its an awesome experience! My Companions name is Elder R, he is from Clinton, Utah and hes pretty cool and were getting along fine, were just learning how to teach with each other. My district is awsome! Its been like 6 days but we act like we've been friends forever. its really weird and awesome, you can totally tell that we are all supposed to be here at this point in our lives, in time, and were supposed to meet each other!. The older guys left today and it was kinda hard because i connected with them so much but they're off in Arkansas so it not too far! I love you all and thank you so much for all the letters and emails! Keep them comin!:P Love from your favorite Elder :)

He appears to be holding up under the pressure so far... :P