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

Anonymous Angel

I was at work today and suddenly my phone buzzed... a sweet sister angel was the Provo, Utah temple today when the missionaries arrived. She took pictures and sent them to me!! Fantastic surprise!! So grateful and makes me remember - we need to take pictures of missionaries in our own areas and send them to their moms! It's a beautiful thing!! Thank you!!!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

30 October 2015

At long last we hear from our Missionary! We think his Preparation Day (Pday) must be Fridays while he is in the MTC - it will be Mondays once he is in the field. This is the day they do laundry, shop for food, get haircuts, wash their cars or clean up their bikes, and have a short amount of time with internet access to email their moms :)

Hey Mom!! I know I've only been here for 3 days but it feels like its been weeks! I'm learning so much every single day! I know I'm already starting to gain wait because is like 3 full meals a day and just sitting in class all day. I love you and everyone so much and tell everyone i love them and all is well from the MTC. I just got my mail and thank you for all the letters and for the socks! lol. I love getting mail and i love hearing from all of you! Write me more letters! and it makes me look cool lol. Thank you and i love all of you! Love, Your Missionary, Elder Gilbert

Oh and i was just called to be the District Leader! So i a have to set an example and watch out for the 8 guys in my group.


John arrives in Salt Lake City - his first trip to Utah! He is picked up by Chloe and a friend and they visit the Salt Lake Temple and the Conference Center. Then one last photo as he enters the MTC!

Airport Farewell

Johnny Boy got on the plane for the MTC on 27 October 2015 - super proud of him but a hard day :)

And Margie Girl was with us in spirit, while her body is at Texas Tech!