Thursday, December 22, 2016

19 December 2016 - Week 60! Merry Christmas!!!

Good week! We opened our new Smithville branch building this week. The weather was terrible! Super cold and icy. And still 85 people showed up! The talks were awesome, the lessons were great and we had a huge potluck afterword -  a little kid even threw up and everything was just awesome! Great first week! This branch is awesome. We didn't have a single investigator come, which was super annoying!! But hopefully the weather will be better and some more people will come out. The Amory sisters are having there baptism coming up.. I'm super exited for what this week has in store. I'm exited to talk with the fam!!!!! Thank you to all who have sent me Christmas stuff!! You guys are the best!!!!! Your missionary -Elder John M. Gilbert

Merry Christmas Y'all - we love and thank you!!! 

Friday, December 16, 2016

12 December 2016 - Week 59

Good week! So it was kind of a weird week. We did a lot of service this week. We hung Christmas lights for the cutest old couple ever! That took all day, because Elder Hastings and I had no idea what we were doing! lol! We found a few more investigators this week, so that's exciting! We went to the temple so that's always fun and it was also Alec's birthday so we went to Buffalo Wild Wings to celebrate. The Christmas Party is this week so we are excited for that! But yeah, all is well out here in the middle of nowhere. Thanks for all the birthday stuff!! Your missionary, -Elder John M. Gilbert

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

5 December 2016 - Week 58

So I'm back in the country! I'm now in Fulton Mississippi. Super small town, I had pics to upload but I forgot my go-pro in the apt so I'll try to post them sometime soon. The holidays are always crazy, even for a missionary! There was a Christmas parade in our little town last week and it was super cool. We have the temple and the mission Christmas party this week and a visit from a General Authority. So yeah :)  Thank y'all for all my birthday emails and boxes! I loved all of them! Thanks for all the support! 
- Elder John M. Gilbert

Monday, November 28, 2016

28 November 2016 - Week 57 - Moving to Mississippi!!

November 28th. Today is my 13th month mark. Crazy! It feels like time is crawling and flying at the same time. So my 21st Birthday is on Wed!! Don't really have anything planned except dinner after transfers. David is taking me and some of my missionary friends to my fave restaurant in Alabama! It's called the fish market in downtown b-ham! I'll attach a pic of it so you guys can see it. So I'm getting transferred. I'm kinda bummed. Madison is awesome! I love the guys I'm around right now, I'm sad to have to say goodbye to them and the awesome families in the ward! I only got to stay here for 3 weeks :/  Thanksgiving was awesome. I've never eaten so much in my life! We had 5 different meals with different people and families. It was awesome! I'm so grateful for how well they take care of us!! And thanks to y'all for the letters and stuff I have already gotten for my b-day! Thanks for all the support y'all give me! Couldn't do it without y'all. Love, Elder John M. Gilbert

New address is on the side of the blog, but in case you can't see it on your phones:
Elder John Gilbert
208 N. Cummings St. Apt #1
Fulton, Mississippi  38843

And yes, I asked - this town in Mississippi is still in the Alabama Mission :)
Love and thanks to you all!!!!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

21 November 2016 - Week 56 - Happy Thanksgiving!

Cool week. The life of a Zone Leader is crazy! We have Zone Training tomorrow where we just train and try and improve the work in our zone. I'm giving a 20 min training by myself tomorrow so I have been preparing for that. It's been a crazy week! Constantly teaching, constantly finding, traveling, just been crazy! We had a few people come to church, including a part-member family we are working with, so that's good! It's finally getting cold!! I love it! It was 50 somethin' yesterday. I need to send stuff home, I have so much stuff I just don't even use. I'm excited for Thanksgiving!! We have like 4 meal appts that day! But yeah we have just been grinding, My comps are awesome. Elder Coleman is from Mesa AZ. He's a swimmer and just a goofball. It's a blast! Elder Fanos is from Wyoming. They are both awesome guys! We are just grinding! Happy Thanksgiving!! Love Y'all!!
    -Elder John M.Gilbert

Note from Mom - we can't believe Elder Gilbert's Birthday is next week - he will be 21 years old!! Yikes!! When did THAT happen?? We are so excited for him :) Anyway, I asked Johnny if there is anything he needs - he says he is now in Madison which has LOTS of places to shop and any cash would be greatly appreciated :) He is talking about some new socks (he already got new shoes) and maybe a new coat - I think the 50 degrees has gone to his head! Anyway, anything sent to the Mission Home address (the one in Birmingham) will always find him. Transfers are on his birthday, next Wednesday, and he doesn't know what will be happening, so he suggested sending cards or anything (he says large packages are good too :P) to the Mission Home or wait until after we know where he will be after the 30th. Our love and thanks to you all for helping us get this far - 48 weeks to go!!!   xxoo Debby

Thursday, November 17, 2016

14 November 2016 - Week 55

Ok Crazy week!!! Soooo We were at a members house, in the most dangerous project in Ensley which is the most dangerous area in the mission in Alabama, so I'm basically in the most dangerous neighborhood in all of Alabama and we are hanging out eating dinner. When President Sainsburry calls me. He tells me that he needs to Emergency transfer Elder Morley and I. There was a change in the mission, a missionary had a seizure and went home (I didn't know him). So, Elder Morley got sent up to Fort Payne and I got sent up to Madison in a trio with Zone Leaders! lol Sooo I'm a Zone Leader lol (not really). Sooo Madison is the complete opposite of Ensley. NASA is like 6 min away from our apt. So all the people who live here are crazy rich - they are all NASA aerospace engineers!!! So we moved Friday night and Saturday morning and now I'm in Madison. We go to this awesome mall to contact, and we met these 3 girls. We invited them to church. Sunday was Stake Conference and Elder Thompson of the 70 came and the 3 girls came too! So I got to meet another General Authority - that was awesome! Then last night we went to a dinner with some members and the father and husband is a colonel in the army lol so that was super cool. We also have a gym!! I killed it this morning!! I'm exited for these next few weeks! 

My new address is 244 Kyser Bvld. Madison AL, 35758 and yes I can receive mail here now lol. Thanks for everything, Love to everyone!! Your missionary, Elder John M. Gilbert 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

7 November 2016 - Week 54

Another crazy week!! So last Monday night we went fishing at a member's house pond. I caught a decent size catfish. Then Tuesday David took us to my fave place to eat in Birmingham. It's called the fish market, it's downtown and its super nice and super cool!! We have been biking and walking around so much!! On Wed this week my fit bit said I took 23,930 steps, and burned 4,824 calories. Crazy! Everything has just been super crazy and super busy! Today we went fishing this morning. I caught 5 big catfish that we are going to take to a member so she can cook 'em up for us! Now we are emailing, and then we are going to the stake center to play sports. Then we are going out to eat with David again and then I'm going to Alabaster to get my hair cut by Ashley, who is a member I know really well from when I served there. So it's always just one thing after another. Found a lot more bullet shells... think I'm up to like 12 now lol. So Habron (a youth here) is going on his mission and he just gave his farewell talk last Sunday and so many people came!! I have and probably never will see again see the church that packed! We had a potluck afterward. The oven didn't work at the church so the missionaries took it over to our house and we cooked everything there at our little apartment and then took it back over to the church. You know just the average life of a missionary in the hood,  always be on your toes. lol Thank you for all the Halloween/1 year boxes! I love them! lol Except for all the candy, I'm trying to be good. Love y'all, -Elder John M. Gilbert

Saturday, November 5, 2016

31 October 2016 - Week 53 - Happy Halloween :)

Crazy week!! So much happened this week I can't even remember everything! So Friday was my 1 year mark! That morning we went to the mission home for district meeting. While we were there we helped the vehicle coordinator move all the new cars. The mission now has around 20 new cars! 2017 Chevrolet Malibu's! So we got to drive those all morning and let me tell you, they don't have tiwi and they are pretty fast! Not that we were treating that or anything... :) We have our little Ensley Squad, there are 4 of us here and we pretty much do everything together and we all cruised these new Malibu's over across Birmingham, it was so fun! Then this super nice member named David took all of us to panda express for my year! Then that night was the beginning of the "Magic City Classic" which is a huge football game at Legions Field! It lasts 3 days! And there were over 80,000 people there! And me and my comp Elder Morley were literally the only white people there!! It was crazy!! Like words cant even describe this event! The bullet bike gangs everywhere, muscle cars, tailgates and everyone just doing whatever the heck they wanted! Then we met some super cool homies that took us over to a parking lot and their crew of Cameros were everywhere! Some of the coolest cars I've ever seen! I took so many videos, I'll add them to the google drive later today. It was just so crazy!! Oh yeah we went to the temple on Saturday with Habron as he gets ready to leave on his mission. Just a crazy week! Thank you for all the packages and letters for my year mark!!
     Your missionary,
         Elder John M. Gilbert

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

24 October 2016 - Week 52 - Half Way!!!!!!!!!!

First week in Ensley! Wooo We are in the HOOD!! I looked it up and i am pretty much in the most dangerous area in the south. Yes we hear gunshots every single night. We will hear Pop,Pop,Pop, then someone will reply a few seconds later with a different Pop (different caliber) Pop,pop,pop,pop. Its crazy. We share a car with the other elders here. There are basically 2 sets here. So we get the car 3 days a week. We ride our bikes the rest. We do not go out at night!! We are in the apt with all the locks on the second it goes dark so we are in usually around 6-6:30. ummm what else. I found 3 bullet shells just on the street so far. This random guy gave me a pretty cool watch lol ummm We have been working out a lot. I'm trying to be good and obey the rules, this is Elder Morley's 3rd transfer and I'm his 2nd companion so I'm trying to be a good example, so we don't go to the gym. We ride our bikes a lot!! According to my fit bit I walk an average 15k-20k steps and burn around 3k calories. I do have pics and videos for y'all but this computer is all locked up and I can barley do anything. We are in a library so I will throw them on the google drive next time I'm at the church. It's just a tiny branch here. There is a solid family from Alabaster that is assigned to this branch to help it out. Then 2 sets of missionaries and 2 sets of senior couple missionaries. soo the the branch needs help. My bike is definitely being used well! We are in the city so I'm constantly hoping curbs, riding down stairs, jumping stairs. Its crazy! But defiantly a super fun crazy area!!! Love and miss everyone - can't believe it's already been a year!! Thanks and love to everyone!!

Note from Mom: no pictures from Ensley yet, but here are a couple from Hamilton :) Have a great week!!

Monday, October 24, 2016

17 October 2016 - Week 51 - Transferred!!

Finally heard from Elder Gilbert on Saturday!! Elder Hix has headed home (we will miss him so much!) and John has been transferred to an area west of Birmingham called Ensley!! It is a low income area and he says he will need to keep his head up - he wont be wearing his watch for awhile! He asks that any letters (which are ALWAYS appreciated!!) be sent to the Mission Home for safety of arrival. I have noticed if you are viewing this blog on your phone, you can't see the sidebar, which has the address, so here it is again:
Elder John Gilbert
3100 Lorna Road, Suite 107
Birmingham, AL  35216

His new companions name is Elder Morley - John will be the senior companion, as Elder Morley has just completed training. We can't wait to hear from Elder Gilbert again - I will post as soon as we hear how he is doing!! This coming week he will have been out for one year - can you believe it?? We certainly can't. How can it be going so slow and so fast at the same time?? Thanks for all your prayers and support - have a great week!!

Friday, October 14, 2016

10 October 2016 - Week 50

Hi Everyone! Crazy weeks! Elder Hix will be home in 8 days! So we are getting him ready for that! I will find out if I am staying in Hamilton or not on Saturday, so I don't really know what to do, we are trying not to buy food till we know. I'm kinda starting to go through stuff seeing what I need / don't use, and can send home. Its crazy that I'm already coming up on a year! It seems so fast but also so slow!! Love and miss y'all and have a great week!!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

3 October 2016 - Weeks 46, 47, 48, and 49

Dearest Friends!! Heartfelt apologies for posting fails!! I have many explanations (including an untimely kidney stone - me, not John) but no excuses for not keeping everyone up to date. Elder Gilbert continues to email regularly and I will improve the regularity of the posting on my end! Thank you all so much for your continued prayers and support - we couldn't be doing this without you!! Let me post one email he sent a couple of weeks ago - we are all so proud of Elder Gilbert and all he is learning!! Hugs to all...  Debby

 Good week, I had one of the coolest experiences on my mission so far! So Elder Hix and I are eating dinner at taco bell (right after giving a member a blessing because he just had back surgery) and these guys kinda seemed like they were going to try and bash with us, but we made it a good conversation out of it and we went on our way. Then in the parking lot we get a call from our branch president telling us to go give a sister in our branch a blessing who is in the emergency room because he is out of town in Tuscaloosa. So we drive down the road right away. We get out of the car and we see a helicopter with the door open, Elder Hix and I have a whole conversation about helicopters (because we are goofballs) as we walk into the hospital. We get to the desk and we tell them that we are there to give a member of our church a blessing. Elder Hix knew the guy behind the desk, he has been disk golfing with him, and has tried to teach him. So he knew who we were and what we do. The guy behind the desk said "The rule is only 1 visitor per patient, but I will let you guys go anyway" So we walk down to her room. We walk in and there are about 4 doctors around her all working very fast and precise. Around the room are about 5 people all watching (I think they are from her work). This elderly sister is having heart problems and is being emergency evacuated to Birmingham. The helicopter outside is there for her! The second she sees us she waves us over, fights back the tears, and says "I want the blessing now"! She tells the doctors to stop and I pull out my oil vial on my keys. I lay my shaking hands on her head and anoint her, Elder Hix wastes no time and we give her the most powerful blessing of my life. All of the doctors stop what they are doing and respect the blessing. I have never felt the spirit so strong in my life. The room was dead silent and Elder Hix's voice booms around the room. After we finish, I look up and every person in the room, the 5 nonmembers from her work, 3 nurses, and one of the doctors are crying. The spirit was so strong. As we leave the room the sister says "That's what keeps me going folks". Less than a minute after we leave she is on the helicopter outside heading for Birmingham. It was the most demanding moment of my life for the use of my priesthood. It was an awesome experience. We were able to have the spirit with us because we didn't bash with the guys at taco bell. We were able to get past the desk because Elder Hix has been diligent in the work here in Hamilton and met the guy prior to this experience. We were able to be the mouthpiece for the spirit because we were worthy of it. Because we are doing what we are supposed to and trying to the best of our ability to magnify out calling.
> Then we watched the Alabama game on saturday with a less active member. Lol so that was the highlights of our week.

Elder Gilbert keeps telling us their motto is 
Work Hard, Play Hard!!

Friday, September 9, 2016

5 September 2016 - Week 45

Hello Everyone! Interesting news from Elder Gilbert this week - he and Elder Hix get to stay in Hamilton for 6 more weeks!! They are both excited to be staying together. This will be Elder Hix's last transfer - he goes home in six weeks! So they are happy to have Hix "die" in Hamilton :) The Mission President said there was one condition though... they are adding another Elder for a tri-panionship! Elder Jesson joins them this week and hopefully everything will transition smoothly. I have added a couple more pics from their trip last week - hope everyone has a great weekend!!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

29 August 2016 - Week 44

Good crazy week. We had to take our branch mission leader to the hospital last Monday, he was having a heart attack. He is ok now but we spent pretty much all day with him. We had a good district meeting on Friday and after that we went on an exchange. I went with our Zone Leader Elder Forsgren. Who is a body builder.... We worked out on Saturday morning and I realized that I'm playing in a whole different league!! It was really depressing.... I thought I was making real progress and looking good, getting a good physique and then homeboy comes in and I realize I'm playing wiffle ball. He was really able to help me out supplement wise and just a bunch of stuff. This bodybuilding stuff is a whole different world to me. I was just a hockey player lifting for strength, this is very different. Then on Saturday we taught a lesson about the gospel to a deaf person! It was crazy! We taught the whole lesson writing it down in our planners. Hopefully he reads the Book of Mormon. oh yeah I totally for got to tell you. We uhhh kinda broke the rules a little bit and we took a road trip up to Tennessee and went to the Shiloh battle field! It was super cool. It was pretty much the deciding battle in the civil war. So that was supper cool! Ummm yeah idk what else to say, we are just still grinding. I try to send some pics soon.
-Elder John M. Gilbert

Thursday, August 25, 2016

22 August 2016 - Week 43

Not a lot of info from Elder Gilbert this week - he emailed briefly and just let us all know he and Elder Hix are doing well. They are keeping busy visiting and serving branch members, tracting, and going to the gym. He says it has been raining a lot and if anyone has a good slow cooker or grill recipe for brisket, please share! He sends his love and thanks to y'all and says to have a great week!

Uh oh - looks like some repairs are needed here!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

15 August 2016 - Week 42

Just a quick note from Elder Gilbert this week:

The members are really starting to trust us and we had a meal appointment everyday last week! And one member asked us to give her less active son a blessing before he leaves to go into the military, so I think they are really starting to trust us - hooray! Thanks and love to everyone   - Elder Gilbert

Monday, August 8, 2016

8 August 2016 - Week 41

Good Week! We saw lots of less actives this week and the members are starting to realize how cool we are and are having us over for dinner a lot more! :D Which is good and bad, its good to get to know the awesome members here but bad for my diet! But the food is just soooooo good! We have still been working out hard and continuing to move forward. A missionary homie that just went home gave me his football cleats! So Elder Hix and I have really been hitting the field hard! Oh funny thing happened the other day, so Elder Hix is a kicker and he is really good, he is going to go try and play college football. So we are at the high school football field and Hix is just kicking bombs! The football players started showing up for practice and within a few minutes we had a crowd of the football players watching Elder Hix kick these 60 yard bombs! We felt so cool! lol but yeah we have been working hard here in Hamilton and are doing great! Love and miss y'all!! -Elder Gilbert

PS - From the Mom :) Elder Gilbert sent a couple of fun videos of their very large brisket purchase and the amazing rain in Hamilton - unfortunately they are too large to allow for posting. I will try to post them on Facebook for everyone - have a great week!!

Friday, August 5, 2016

1 August 2016 - Week 40

Good Crazy Week. Transfers were last week, Elder Hix and I are staying together for a another 6 weeks!! We are super pumped! So we both had a lot of friends going home this transfer, so we decided to go to transfers even if we weren't really supposed to. We go to Birmingham and Elder Hix has never had Chipotle before!! So we get Chipotle for the first time and he loves it! Duh!! Then we go to one of my homies there in Alabaster - Ashley Betkey, she is an awesome cosmetologist and she always hooks me up with amazing hair cuts, she really is an artist! Thanks Ashley!! So we get there Tuesday night to the AP's apartment. Elder Wintz and Baggot are the AP's. Elder Wintz is my mission "Grandpa". He trained Bullock and Bullock trained me, and Elder Wintz just went home. So at the AP's we had the opportunity to partake of the worlds hottest pepper! The Carolina Reaper......dun dun done!!!....We survived! It was terrible but we did!!!!! There is a video on the google drive. We go to transfers and say bye to all the homies going home. Then a little group of us go to guitar center! There are some missionaries that want to be djs! So I was able to show them kinda in a nut shell how to do it, we had a lot of fun! Then we went back to Hamilton and got back to work. We have a couple progressing investigators but not a whole lot going on. Ok so I haven't told y'all about The Ramp yet. "The Ramp" is a cult here in Hamilton. They call it a church or "ministry" but its literally a cult, like Karen Weaton (who I've met) is the (grand dragon basically) she gives these kids pills to "throw up their demons". And these kids come from all over the world for this! Thousands of people. lol like when I read about the great and abominable church in the Bible and Book of Mormon, I think of The Ramp!!! Just super scary stuff. But anyway so we run into "Rampions" everywhere so missionary work is super hard here. But yeah things are going well, Our next 6 week workout started today! We did Chest and Back and we will go back for cardio tonight. But thanks for the continuous letters and emails!! 
Love y'all, -Elder Gilbert

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

25 July 2016 - Weeks 38 and 39

Hello Everyone! Apologies for not posting last week - we were waiting to hear about transfers and thought we would hear each day - the results are finally in! Elder Hix and Elder Gilbert will be staying in Hamilton for another 6 weeks! They are both very excited to be staying together and extremely grateful to the Member there who allows them access to his gym :) Here is Elder Gilbert's message this week - I expressed concern how focused they seem to be on working out and he promised they are still tracting everyday, dodging bashers, and looking for people to teach - our prayers are that they can find someone this next 6 weeks :)

This is about how district meeting goes when you have a senior couple to show us how to flex.

Went on a blitz with our Zone Leaders in Tupelo, MS 
and saw the opportunity to throw some cardio at Elder Sears!

It's way too humid here, It's like breathing hot water!  We just received our transfer instructions. Elder Hix and I are staying together for another 6 weeks! And Elder Hix is district leader. I'm super exited I get to grind here for another 6 weeks. Last 6 weeks we did pretty good, we stuck with our workouts and for the most part we stuck with our diet and meal plan. So we kinda got an idea of how everything works, how the workouts are, what weight to use, how the lack of carbs will affect me in my workouts, I need to eat less amounts but more frequent, need to prep the meals before so when I'm dead tired after the gym my food is ready or at least basically ready so I don't just give in and go to taco bell because it's fast. Now I know all that. And I am going to hit it and go all the way this next 6 weeks and just see what the results can be. I'm sick and tired of it just being "potential". So I'm super stoked about this up coming 6 weeks!! Love to y'all and thanks for everything! - Elder Gilbert

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

11 July 2016 - Week 37

So not much has happened this past week. We lost our phone on the 4th and we found it a couple days later. Someone found it and turned it in so that was good. Being in a small town branch is very different than what I'm used to. I'm used to huge wards where everyone is solid lol. There were maybe 15 people there at church Sunday and 15 is probably stretching it. Elder Hix gave the opening prayer, Elder Hix blessed the sacrament and I passed it. Elder Hix and I both gave a 15 min talk in sacrament. Elder Hix and I taught priesthood and Elder Hix and I took the sacrament to 2 different people after church. Busy Sunday! We got our haircut this morning, I just took a video and put it on the drive lol but yeah that was pretty much our week. Lots of lifting and fishing. Thanks for all the support! Couldn't be doing this without you guys! Love y'all! -Elder Gilbert