Monday, January 2, 2017

Here's to Being a Missionary for Life!

Saying goodbye to Larissa (baptized in October). SO HARD!
There were tears from both of us even though I did my best
to keep most of them in. Thank heavens for the internet and
cell phones. I can't imagine leaving without knowing I can call
them next week. :)
Family and Friends,

I can't believe this will be the last email you will receive from me as a full time missionary serving in the Georgia Macon Mission. It has been an absolute dream to give my all as a servant of the Lord. All my life I have waited for this opportunity. I am shocked to see how quickly it has come and gone. Time is so precious. I feel blessed beyond belief to have been given 18 months of it here in Georgia, wearing the name of Jesus Christ day in and day out! I have seen some of the greatest miracles while here. No work can compare to being a representative of Jesus Christ, being His hands, doing as He would.

A couple tender moments from this week:

We got to go on exchanges with Douglas second ward this week. I've served her 9 months and this was the first time I got to spend a whole day on the other side of town doing missionary work! It was so fun. There's great potential over there as well. We were able to visit with a lady who was on our way to an investigator's house. She asked us to pray with her mother. It's amazing to know people can feel the Holy Ghost and desire that for their family.

The Hills!! Such an amazing couple. I've had so many laughs
from brother Hill and sister Hill is the sweetest example of
Christlike service.
Thursday evening we took the relief society president with us to visit one of our investigators. While in the lesson, we followed the spirit closely and did our best to address her concerns. Martel (the investigator), loves the Book of Mormon and has come to church once. She, however, has a hard time recognizing her answer and being willing to switch churches after so long. While talking with her, we discussed faith, acting on faith, and how to recognize promptings from the Holy Ghost. It was an intense lesson. We could both feel the spirit burning through the room. Following every thought that comes to your mind by the spirit is absolutely exhilarating. We can't teach any other way. At the end of the lesson, the relief society president, sister O'Brien, said the prayer. She prayed for Martel and she also thanked Heavenly Father for the missionaries and the dedicated work we were giving. After closing the prayer, she looked up and had tears in her eyes. What a touching moment that was for me to realize that what we do IS touching hearts. I know she felt the spirit that lesson and, like us, has felt a deep love for Martel because of the gift of charity Christ offered us that night.

On Saturday, one of my last dinners, we decided to try frog legs
and alligator tail. The alligator was actually pretty good.
Frog legs were a bit chewy... go figure :)
I will see you all soon. I know this work is true! Always be worthy of and follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost. Heavenly Father WILL and DOES send us guidance each and every day. This has been the greatest 18 months. There is no doubt in my mind of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. I know Jesus Christ IS our Savior and Redeemer. The greatest joy in life comes from truly knowing Him. I am eternally grateful for the atonement He made for us. How great the love!

Love y'all and have a blessed week!!

Sister Brown

Sunday was full of goodbyes. Here are a few pictures.:

A tender goodbye to Miss Joan. She has taught me to be happy
NO MATTER the circumstance. Honestly, this woman
has done the best job of choosing happiness. Such an inspiration!

Gowen family! They're wonderful fellowshippers and
absolutely hilarious.

Sister Nelson!! She is SO incredible. She comes out with us
almost every single time we ask. She is so loving.
We skyped at her house on Sunday.

Miss Barbara. She is truly giving and has been a trooper
through all her health concerns.

Monday, December 26, 2016

He Was Born a Babe. He'll Return a King. Are You Ready?

Found a butterfly during the warm Christmas week.
(it was around 76)
MERRY CHRISTMAS! What a week! To put a cherry on the top, I was blessed with the chance to talk with the most incredible family out there.

Saturday we held a special practice during lunch so we could feel a little more prepared for the musical number. About half way through our practice, the Bishop of 2nd ward walks in and introduces this lady to all of us. Her name was Rosie. I found out where she lived, and then suggested sister Boyer and I step outside with her into another room.

Christmas eve we went caroling and saw SO many people who wanted us to come sing to them even if they weren't in our original route. Such an amazing gift to spread the light of Christ with those around us.

Christmas dinner was with the Davis family. Love them!
Sunday we sang our musical number along with a few other special musical numbers. It was such a sweet experience to see both wards and all the families come together. We had a couple investigators there. It was an amazing experience to feel the spirit and hear the testimonies of those who shared their feelings on the Savior.

For the Christmas conference we were able to watch the Errand of Angels. I was thoroughly upset to hear it end sad when the sister had to return home to school. ;) Thankfully, we can all be missionaries even if our full time service out in the field has to end. We had a fun gift exchange and were spiritually uplifted by the trainings given.

Love you all to the moon and back!
Christmas Caroling

Have a blessed week!
Sister Brown

Monday, December 19, 2016

If the Christmas Spirit Isn't in Your Heart, You Won't Find it Under the Tree

Merry Christmas!
This week was so incredibly busy. Let me start off with an apology. I do not have a picture of Tiara's baptism to send this week but I WILL have one next week. With that being said....Tiara got baptized!!!!!! How exciting. She truly is a woman of great strength. I was in awe to see her stand by what she knows and believes even though she has been abandoned by her family in a great way. She is a pioneer for this city, and I believe she will do great things. She has already started to see ways in which the Lord is working miracles. Even without the additional blessings, however, she would still be completely obedient because she knows what God is asking of her and she follows that instruction with exactness. 
Christmas pic by the cute music store in town :)
Sunday was a whirlwind. We were supposed to be having about 4 investigators come. We typically like to sit by those who we teach so they can have an easy way to meet more ward members and so we can explain any questions they may have about the service. There are only 2 of us so we were already spread thin. Not only that, but I was speaking this Sunday which left sister Boyer quite nervous because there was no way she could be in 4 places at once. Well, the meeting started off with Sister Boyer sitting with Tiara in the front (we left the Lanes by themselves sister Lane said, "We've got this." They're so awesome!! We're praying they will make the decision to be baptized near the end of this year or the beginning of next.)

I then sat near the doors with a less active lady whom we absolutely adore (she has come for three weeks in a row now!! We're hoping she keeps it up!). We had a few people who were planning on coming in late, so I figured this would be location to be able to spot them quickly. I was the first speaker on the program. As I stood up to speak, two more of our investigators walked in--both from different ends of the chapel. Already walking toward the podium, I smiled as welcoming as I could at them and was relieved to see a fantastic member finding a seat with the first. Sister Boyer quickly left Tiara and headed for our other investigator. As I looked out at all of our less active, recent convert, part member, and investigator families my heart was about ready to pop with happiness. They made it! Of course not everyone was able to be there, but it was amazing to see a room full of people we are teaching. I have been here for many months and have seen complete miracles take place within that time. How incredible!

A little on Tiara's baptism...before being baptized she was a bit upset because the few family members who had agreed to come and watch changed their minds. Her morning was a bit hectic, but she made it and that's what matters. After being baptized, her smile was the size of the moon! She was filled with the spirit and completely over joyed. 

We saw so many amazing miracles this week but I am down to 2 minutes. I will talk to y'all more next week. Love y'all! 

Have a Blessed week! 
Sister Brown

Monday, December 12, 2016

Come Experience the Greatest Gift. We Call Him Jesus

To be honest, this week was absolutely crazy. It started off with a trip to Macon for our Mission Leadership Conference, followed closely by Zone Training Meeting, the ward Christmas party, a tragic experience for our most progressing investigator, and a spiritual Sabbath full of miracles.

Every preparation day when we go to Walmart I feel like
the store is counting down to the end of my mission.
It makes me so sad to see us come to the end of the year,
but I am so excited for the day we get to celebrate Christ's birth.
The Mission Leadership Conference was incredibly inspiring and uplifting! We felt the spirit surround us in the room as we discussed inspired methods for finding new people who are prepared to accept the gospel. Sister Boyer and I are ecstatic about incorporating these new methods into our missionary work. I had the unique opportunity to prepare and give a training at the meeting as well. It was the first time I believe I have been truly nervous to speak in public. Thankfully, the message was well received, and I am sure the other zone leaders and sister training leaders will do an even better job relaying the message back to their missionaries than I did on Tuesday. :D That's what matters most! My training made me consider my testimony of the Book of Mormon. To put it simply, ANY question we have concerning the church or doctrine can be resolved through the Book of Mormon. What an amazing truth! So many of my own concerns have been hushed by the quiet spirit of peace I feel each time I pick up that book. No mortal being could create a book that touches my heart in such a way. Only the spirit of God can accomplish that task. 

Those crazy Davis boys. We went over for dinner and a lesson.
They make us laugh. The family is still active and doing well.
Kaleb has not been able to be baptized yet..but he will soon.
In between meetings and preparing for the ward Christmas social (which we had at least 10 non-members attend), we had to rush to try and find enough time to teach lessons. We had an amazing experience having one the families we're teaching join with another family in the ward for a family night. It was such an amazing experience to see them not only read from the scriptures together, but it was so good to simply see the fellow-shipping take place. As we played the game for family night, I felt as if I was back in a family. There is a special spirit that enters in the home when a family is working toward the same goal: coming closer to Christ.

The ward Christmas party was a huge success. Sister Boyer did a beautiful job accompanying two young mothers in the ward as they sang Silent night in English and Spanish. The Christmas season brings out the best in people.

Saw Santa at the Christmas social! One of the funniest
little girls in the ward started screaming when Santa
walked in the room, "Santa! Santa! Santa!" Sooo cute
how crazy she got.
Tierra (a lady we've been teaching for a few months now) will still be baptized this Saturday, but that poor woman has gone through so much. I feel so close with her. It's hard to see bad things happen to those we love. Although she's experienced some road blocks, we saw little miracles this Sunday. The bishop was able to give her some good counsel and encouragement. Afterwards, he told her she didn't have to go through with the baptism for this weekend if she didn't want to. It was her personal decision and should be done at the right time and for the right reasons. She responded quite firmly, "No. I want to be baptized." She then smiled and laughed a little after seeing the expression on Bishop's face. I think we were all pleased to see she understood baptism and receiving the Holy Ghost is ultimately the thing which will give her the most spiritual power and support at this time.

Love y'all SO much! Have the most blessed week yet :)
Sister Brown

Monday, December 5, 2016

Today's forecast: God reigns and the Son shines forever

I thought this title was especially fitting for the family this week. Remember that regardless storms that blow in, Jesus Christ will always shine forever. He truly lights our way.

Group photo with the #LIGHTtheWORLD end of the float
We've been teaching an older woman (83) this past week. The first time we met her we left a "Finding Faith in Jesus Christ" pass along card with our contact information on it in case she wanted to get a hold of us. Well, she ended up calling the Salt Lake number and ordering a DVD. We received a notice the next day and scheduled a time to bring her the DVD. Little did she know we would be the ones coming back to deliver her movie :) She was pleasantly surprised. We've gone back a couple of times since then and introduced her to the Book of Mormon. The last time we were over, she was so excited to read the first chapter of Nephi. She has that humble heart which allows her to genuinely and sincerely ask God if our message is true. We're excited to hear what happened!

Sister Boyer and I. You can see some of the float in the
background...not too much though. I'll see if the members have
more photos.
Saturday was the huge success of the annual Christmas parade. Apparently the church hasn't done a float in a while. This year was quite different! Second ward made a float. They spent every night for an entire week constructing a breathtaking parade float. It was flawless. As we were walking down the streets of Douglas, many people said with wide eyes, "Y'all's float is gorgeous!" They were right. We're hoping to get first place because if we do, we will have a picture on the front page of the newspaper. What fantastic publicity to move the missionary work forward here! In addition, we handed out roughly 1,000 pass along cards. More importantly, however, it was wonderful to see the entire town of Douglas come together in a joined celebrating of Jesus Christ. The theme was 'Peace on Earth.' Jesus Christ is truly the one who can offer us true peace. He can calm the troubled hearts, lift up those who have fallen, strengthen the weak, and wipe all our tears away. I know He is my Savior, and I love Him with all my heart.

The Spanish Elders convinced us to all try a habanero
pepper. All I have to say is I will never be doing that again.
Sunday we saw the miracle of a less active lady whom we love so dearly come to church. She has some health concerns, but could be coming every week if she made the effort. She kept telling us she was going to surprise us one day by coming to church. Many people say that. I have been here 8 months and hadn't seen her at church once regardless of how hard we pushed for her to come. Amazingly, I looked over Sunday morning and there she was! Now if we can only keep her coming.

I love y'all! Have a Blessed week!
Sister Brown

Monday, November 28, 2016

History is HIS Story

One of Sister Boyer's top quotes from this week:

The best things about the South: 1-The southern hospitality 2-The food.
The worst things about the South: 1-The southern hospitality 2- The food

We were most definitely able to experience all the best and worst things about the South this week. How amazing that so many people welcomed us in and invited us to visit, eat their food, and share feelings of gratitude for our Father in Heaven and all He has given and done for us.

Thank you all for being so grateful and showing your thanks by the way you live.

Thanksgiving we visited a few people in the old folks home, saw many part member and less active families. How wonderful it was to see everyone's family getting together, enjoying the holiday spirit. The spirit of Christ.

This is Chaplin Smith. She invited us over for Thanksgiving
about a month ago when we tracted into her. Because of the
example some earlier missionaries set through loving service,
 she let us right in and told us about how much she loves us and
our church. She is determined to not leave her church,
but look at the power our examples carry!
Never underestimate the weight of one simple decision.
We had an amazing lesson this week with a part member family (the Carvers). From the past two visits we had, we didn't feel like they would progress very well. The husband told us he wasn't sure about Joseph Smith, and that he never felt like he had received an answer that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. So at this point, he didn't believe Joseph Smith was called as a prophet. They were still kind to us and allowed us to come back if we would like. Of course we wanted to come back! Quitting is not for us! Tuesday we took their home teacher to visit them with us (he is also in the mission presidency-president Fussell). We decided to use a new method of presenting the Book of Mormon as described to us in Zone Conference. We spent the time before hand to mark a special copy of the Book of Mormon that they can read in 90 minutes. We then had a great lesson where we drew a map explaining where the record came from and why we are nicknamed Mormons. The spirit was strong during the lesson, especially as we were testifying of Jesus Christ. At the end of the lesson, we asked what questions they had. The husband (who told us he doesn't believe Joseph Smith was called to be a prophet) said, "I don't have a question..just a comment." Oh dear, we thought. We were preparing for the worst--for them to tell us we weren't invited back ever again. What followed, however, amazed me. He told us how he believed the Book of Mormon was true. What?! We were astonished. He then went on to tell us what he believed about Jesus Christ being loving, merciful, and a few other aspects of his testimony. It was incredible. He then asked us to pray for his family to be on the right path-whatever that may be. Our hope for this family has been renewed, and we look forward to further lessons.

Friday night our plans were shaken up, and we weren't sure where to go. Sister Boyer had this idea to meet with a family we had dropped for a few months but just started seeing again last week. As soon as she said it, I thought, "Wow, that's perfect. It's even on the way." As we drove into their driveway, however, we became nervous they wouldn't appreciate us stopping by because it looked like they had lots of company over (different cars). We debated for a few seconds but then knocked on their door because we knew we had been directed here. As it turned out, the spirit was right again (as always). We had a wonderful lesson with the parents and their son who was here from out of town.
A southern thanksgiving.

Saturday we saw a miracle of a baptism! It was one of the Spanish Elder's investigators. He is 14 years old and SUCH a good kid. It has been wonderful to see the ward adopt him in. He will do amazing things. He is a pioneer for his family. I feel he will bring many people into the church one day. We should, hopefully, be having 3 baptisms to report on for December. I'll send pictures :)

Check out the new Christmas video and make sure to join in on the "25 Ways in 25 Days." Don't forget to share, share, share this on social media!! I promise it makes a difference. Here's an idea, pray about who you could specifically show the video to then send them a little message with attached as a link! Share away :)

Love y'all! 
Have a blessed week.

Monday, November 21, 2016

God Gave You 86,400 Seconds Today. Did You Use One of Them to Say Thank You?

Are you prepared for Thanksgiving? Countless apostles have taught the importance of being grateful. As a missionary, I have seen the drastic difference in my work when I have had an attitude of gratitude verses an attitude of self pity. We are commanded to be grateful. We should be grateful before, during, and after both our trials and blessings. How incredible to be as the one leper who returned to Christ to express his gratitude. In addition, we should be grateful before the healing even comes. Gratitude is a state of being. To be happier, start by being more grateful. Will you take the challenge to find 100 things you are grateful for? Try thinking of subcategories such as being grateful for certain living people, deceased people, gospel topics, physical abilities, things in nature, places on earth, food, you name it! I'm so grateful for this season!!
I couldn't remember if I've ever sent a picture of
Sister Boyer and I. oops. Here's one.

One of the new senior couples in the mission shared a neat training on the Book of Mormon with us at Zone Conference this week. We tried sharing it with one of our investigators and it went SO well! We were so happy to see the power behind the Book of Mormon. When we share with our friends in a simple way which they can understand, they will feel our love for the truths found in this sacred record and the Holy Ghost will "prick" their heart to learn more. Take the challenge to FIND someone to share your testimony of the Book of Mormon with someone this week. Let me know how it goes!

**A neat side note--the husband in the senior couple had a stroke 9 years ago that left him really bad off. It was amazing to see how far he has come. He told us to encourage our investigator who had a few years back to never give up and keep reading the Book of Mormon. He promised her that's what would help her most. That's exactly what we've been doing with her. AMAZING!**

 Nikita and her family :) Such a fantastic lady!
She's got so much spunk. She agreed to giving
Sister Boyer a few braids sometime. Her daughters
are SO sweet. The youngest came right up to us
when we were helping out at a service project
and gave us hugs in front of all her friends.
One of the things I was most grateful for yesterday was to see one of our part member families at church. Sister Boyer were saying hello to people for about 10-15 minutes before the meeting. We were waiting for a few investigators to show up, so we left the one investigator we were already sitting with and told her we would be right back. We walked out in the foyer to 'get a drink' and our heads turned to the front doors at the same time. Guess who was walking up? None other than the Lane family! I could feel sister Boyer's face light up at the exact same time a huge grin broke across my face. They looked so happy to be there! We could tell the spirit is working on them. The daughter still wants to be baptized. The son will get there pretty soon. We're not sure if their dad will join them or not. It's one of the hardest things when the father is never home because of work. Work is important, but it's one of the easiest ways for Satan to work his way in.

This one more accurately describes Sister Boyer ;)
Friday night we had a fantastic lesson with a man who recently got out of jail and his girlfriend. One of the most touching things I've seen was the video of his little boys running up to him when he got home. Even more than that though, was when the man had to leave the room to wipe the tears from his eyes as he was reminded of the moment he got to see his children again (about 6 months ago). As he said to us, he would never do something that resulted in him being pulled away from his children again. He bore to us the sweetest testimony of how he knows missionaries are representatives of Jesus Christ and he will always tell his friends to listen to us when they see missionaries. The spirit was strong that evening.

Love y'all! Have a blessed week!