A Tale of Two Sisters

How missionary work is a big part of one Gilbert family.

A couple of months ago, we introduced you to two brothers: Joshua and Jesse Williams. Being members of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints (the Church), the two brothers were at the beginning of a new life changing journey as they were about to embark on their respective mission: one in Baltimore, MD, the other half way across the world in Ethiopia.

Like the more than 53,000 full-time missionaries – most of them young adults under the age of 25 – Josh and Jesse are hard at work waking up early, following up on appointments, visiting homes, and meeting people in the street and other public places. Not an easy thing to do when the street doesn’t really exist or the public places are full of goats, judging from some of Josh’s pictures.

Their two sisters, Olivia and Vienna, have similar stories to tell having just returned from their own assigned area. Olivia, closer to home in Washington, DC, was in an area near where her brother Jesse is currently assigned. Similar to her brother Josh, Vienna, on the other hand, was assigned to a more distant location in Uruguay, South America.

For Olivia, the transition was not as difficult when she left on her mission. As she remarks: “it was not as big of a deal since I had already been gone for a while” studying away from home in Utah. Vienna, on the other hand, had already started ASU but surprised everyone after deciding to submit her application two months before she turned 19, deciding “that she needed a change in her life”.

For the duration, they focused entirely on the work from morning to night, foregoing all entertainment, parties or other activities common to their age-group. While they do have access to modern communication and local assistance from local members of the church, they are limited to one direct call back home per week (similar to what we all have become used to during COVID) and emails.

As Vienna puts it: “I got closer to my parents on my mission than before” since they were able to better understand what she was going through and provide some guidance. An improvement to how things were done before, states Olivia, as the rules were changed shortly before she headed out on her mission. Prior to that, calls were limited to Christmas and Mother’s Day.

Each have transforming stories to relate. How Olivia, for instance, had to worked closely for six months with an older gentleman living in the impoverished suburb of Baltimore helping him getting rid of a bad smoking habit and adopting better outlook on life. Or how Vienna shares her story with a particular family having abandoned their faith after the passing of the father and how the son has now decided to get baptized and shares is new found with his community.

Both made life changing memories and both are happy to be home!

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