Monday, December 28, 2015

CHRISTmas :)

Hello all!

The Cottles, a senior missionary couple, gave all themissionaries a stocking full of Christmas goodies. 

This week was an incredible one filled with many miracles and wonderful Christmas spirit. Christmas Eve we went to the Herr's for dinner. We were with 4 families who are stationed on base right now. They had such a cute dinner! It was fun to get to talk with a few of the young families in the ward and get to know them better. You can really learn so much from the experiences of others. 

After dinner, we went with the Cottles and the Elders to Christmas carol to a few of the families in the ward and that we were teaching. So many people were so grateful for the visit and were truly touched by the spirit that the music brings in. I absolutely love the spirit that can be felt through music. The last family we sang to was the Sanchez family. Their two kids were baptized this Saturday (26th) so that was really fun to see them before their big day. Talk about an amazing Christmas gift to the Savior! Truly using the atonement He provided for us. 

Our Christmas Tree!
Christmas day Sister Lewis and I studied, read Luke 2 together,and then went to the Cottle's for a Christmas breakfast. It was so fun. The Cottles are seriously hilarious. I love talking with them. We talked a little bit about our Christmas traditions back home...and then Elder Cottle talked about golf for the rest of the time. He loves golf :) And they live on a golf it works. It was the cutest thing, Elder and sister Cottle surprised us by buying stockings for each of the missionaries. :D How awesome is that? Sister Cottle acted like the classic grandma as we opened them oohing and awwing at our mini shampoo, soap, baby wipes and other practical things every missionary needs. Such sweethearts. 

Christmas night we went to a Less active mom's house.
She really needed the visit, and we absolutely
love her kids! Her little girl did my nails while
we talked with her mom. such a cutie!

Opened cards and presents. It was so wonderful to hear from you all!! I'm going to send personal emails soon.. It might just take another week. :) We then SKYPED. So great to see the family :) Such fun surprises to see Larson and Ella have grown up so much already! 

Christmas day we visited a few families who could really use the cheer.  We saw sister Mims ( an older lady who lives with a friend and her granddaughter)  They were all so very grateful for the Christmas visit and it was so so good to become friends with her granddaughter who is really in need of the peace and joy the gospel brings. We also met another family we will be teaching more in the future. 

We ate dinner at the Matavo's. A Polynesian family.
It was a lot of meat! This is one of our friends!!
She's planning on serving a mission so she's going
to come teaching with us every once in a while. :)
Such a wonderful ward!
This Christmas I loved knowing that it truly is Jesus Christ who we should always celebrate. Because of the incredible gift of our Savior, we can live with Heavenly Father again! 

I pray you are all doing well and that Christmas this year was one that made you consider everything we have to be grateful for :) 

Sister Brown 

Monday, December 21, 2015

White Washing for Christmas :)

This week has been one to remember! Seriously. Some of the craziest missionary work yet. My new companion, Sister Lewis, and I got in Hinesville Tuesday night around 7:00 at night. It was quite the drive from Macon. A sweet old brother drove us. He's the perfect picture of a southern farmer :) We got into the apartment (previously owned by elders) and were very grateful the Cottles had called them ahead of time and told them to scrub scrub scrub it clean. We still did a good amount of cleaning of our own...but it was so nice to have a good apartment to walk into. :)

We got our car from Elder and Sister Cottle (not the mission president and his wife...a different senior couple serving on base with us.) that night around 10:00. 
Our broken car. We got it from the elders in Rincon...
but apparently it did not see happy days with whoever
was there before this transfer.
Kind of crazy how it all worked out.

On Wednesday we were finally able to use the car for a while, so we went shopping and got our passes to get on base! Yep, we're serving on post around 50% of the time. SO COOL :) Having a pretty large chunk of our ward be military creates some interesting dynamics. Many of the couples living there have only been there for about a year or so. Ha very different than Cochran. But I love love love the ward. We got to go to a young women activity on Wednesday and meet our three young women. They are wonderful, and definitely need some sister missionary influences in their lives! They're so amazing. Elders are wonderful, but I just know how many people these ladies will touch. The future of their entire families lies with them. I pray that Sister Lewis and I can be a god influence on them. They're not bad girls at all, they're just around a lot of worldly influences. One of them is actually planning to serve a mission! So that's super fun to talk with her :) Thursday we met the Relief society. Lots of young moms. Loved it! 

We've seen so many cool miracles this week come from the Christmas initiative. I love the video "A Savior is Born." We are super excited to meet more people who will be touched by the feeling the get when they watch the video. 

One thing that's interesting is how many people in Hinesville don't celebrate Christmas. I have learned a lot. Something I believe we must always remember is to look at why we do what we do. If we get too caught up in the presents and commercialization of the holiday, we aren't celebrating it for the right reasons, and it will turn sour. But I've also done some study on the Pharisees and I believe with everything we can't get too caught up in the dos and don'ts instead of focusing on what should truly be the center of our worship. Stay centered in the gospel of Jesus Christ and you will be guided as what to do and how to act. :) 

Sister Lewis, William, and me. This is William after his
baptism. Talk about a crazy first week. Thankfully the
zone leaders are also serving in Hinesville
and Elder Peterson has been here for a while
so he set up the baptism logistics.
Saturday William was baptized! That was so incredible to see! His wife was baptized last week, and now they are able to grow in the gospel together. I love to see families join the Church. It is so wonderful because they are stepping on a pathway as an entire family. They're setting a pattern for their life. 

A couple of random things.
1- We met a 60 year old who is a retired professional European model. She has walls full of expensive souvenirs. (an 80,000 dollar monkey and a 200,000 dollar snake) yet she says she has no money for food. Ha. I love her. She's so cute, funny, and a tad bit us all :) I love people. 
2-Sister Lewis is super afraid of animals. SUPER. We went to visit a Less active couple who has two cats...she probably jumped 7 times because the cats walked too close or sniffed her. One time she actually screamed. Ha poor girl. I seriously love her so so so much! I told her we would role play with cats now. She's going to be teaching me the restoration and BAM incoming cat out of nowhere! Don't worry..I won't be that mean. :) 
3-We're going caroling this week!
4-One of our most progressing investigators is a man who is currently studying to be a minister :D. 

I am so very excited for Christmas! Please be safe and remember what it is about. Keep CHRIST as the center. 
Sister Brown

Monday, December 14, 2015

Tear of Joy, Sadness... Just a whole lot of tears :D

What a week it has been!! Wow. I feel like I'm always saying that..but it's always true! This week there was especially a lot that happened. We had a baptism, the ward Christmas Social, Transfers calls, we found two golden families, worked with Kerry, packed, planned another baptism, Zone Christmas Conference in TIFTON, had Exchanges with the Forsyth was crazy. 

Ok, I have limited time, so we'll see how it goes. 

First, we had a wonderful Christmas Conference in Tifton. I really, really love adventures. Apparently that's something I will need to always incorporate into my life because as we were driving early in the morning, I was absolutely giddy. I was just so excited to be doing something out of the normal routine. We learned so many amazing things at the conference..not to mention some incredible music numbers. Music can truly bring the spirit in an incredible way. The spirit was so strong there with at least one hundred missionaries in the same room, it was like you could reach out and touch it. 

Shandora (recent convert) from Forsyth. Love her!
The next day, we had exchanges with the Forsyth STLs. I went to Forsyth with sister Goade and Sister Demann took sister Mcolough around Cochran. It was a wonderful to spend some time with Sister Goade. She has had a lot placed on her shoulders recently, and it was a great experience to simply let her know that she was loved and that she can do what the Lord knows she needs to be doing at this time. I loved the people in Forsyth! the second picture is of a sweet lady. She's a recent convert who has done much for the missionaries. She needs lots of support right now, so they go see her often. She was cute and brought us breakfast the day I left. 

As soon as I got back to Cochran, we had some amazing lessons in Eastman. (a long day of driving..well driving to Tifton and back was 3.5 it was just a long week of driving). We got to catch up with a lady nicknamed CAT whom we hadn't seen in several weeks. We met her whole family this time (her son was there visiting). And shared a Christmas message with all of them. I often pick scriptures from the BOM to share so then I can introduce it to people. Well, her son was very interested in the book I was reading from. We taught a little about it, and near the end, I asked if I could share one of my favorite passages of scripture from it with him. 3 Nephi 11: 8-14. As I was reading about Jesus Christ appearing to the people in the Americas, I felt an intense witness that what I was reading was true. I couldn't stop the tears from sneaking out. It was a wonderful lesson. I don't know if they got as much out of it as I did, but I sincerely pray they did. 

Jennifer is baptized!
The next day we were up and preparing for Jennifer's baptism!! I haven't written too much about Jennifer yet, but she has been through MANY trials to get where she is today. At one point she told us she was never coming back to the church and she wanted nothing to do with it. The next day she was there in class because the spirit wouldn't let her stay away. As our Bishop said concerning the situation,"Brothers and Sisters, what you are seeing here truly is a miracle." Yesterday Jennifer was confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It was the most beautiful service I have attended. This morning she wrote us a text telling us how she had received much persecution since joining the church, but she was staying strong. She had been reading the Book of Mormon and said she could not put the book down. She had an overwhelming feeling arise in her chest, throat, and heart. She told us that what we had all said about the burning feeling of knowing is true. She had felt it. What an incredible journey we have been on with her! The adversary threw every possible dart at her, and she still listened to the Holy Ghost and followed what she felt was true. I am so so so happy for her.

Mr. and Mrs Claus (Brother and Sister Kersey)!
They dressed like this for the ward party and
then again on Sunday to visit a large family gathering.
Then on Saturday, we had our ward Christmas Social. Wow, I love all those people!!! It was absolutely wonderful to see all those I have drawn so close to in this last transfer come together in order to celebrate the Savior's birth. We had so much fun. It was the perfect way to be sent off. 

Miss Louise I absolutely love her!! She is so on fire!!
She's getting baptized in January. She loves the Lord with
all her heart and more. We tear up together
while reading scripture. Her testimony is so strong. 
That night, we came home for transfer calls. I was praying I could stay for at least one more transfer, but felt in my heart that the wish may not be granted. Yes, it will be hard to leave the amazing people we are working with right now, but I know the Lord will protect them. Sister Demann is here to help them step toward the path that leads to eternal life. I love them. I never knew how hard it would be to leave. I'm more sad about leaving these people behind than I was about leaving home (maybe that's because I knew I would eventually be coming home). I am excited for the new place that I will be going with my new companion :) You'll all get a picture next week. Oh, Rose will also be baptized next week so I'll forward a pic of that from sister Demann. Wow, it's so hard to leave these people!

Lastly, Sunday we said goodbye. Well, we said hello to two new families who are so so ready for the gospel. We wanted to work until the very end, so we visited a few referrals we had received, and the Lord showed us miracles. I wasn't planning on it, but I'm so glad sister Demann asked if we could. I'm excited to hear about how their progression in the gospel through emails. 

I love you all! I'll send a few more pictures. 

Sister Brown

Monday, December 7, 2015

"I'll go where you want me to go"

Where to start? This week was full of all sorts of crazy. I keep forgetting that it is the Christmas season because the weather goes from cold rain to warm 70s. We put up our Christmas tree this morning though! How exciting is that :D it's a cute little thing. I'm sure we'll take a picture with is at some point. 

This Tuesday we finished the rug cleaning project. Yay! Later that afternoon we also went to about 15 minutes of one of our investigator's son's soccer games. It was really odd to be there..but sister Demann and I both felt like when she invited us that, that was what she needed. She needed some true friends, and to know that we cared about her. Plus, it was a great way to meet new people in the community. I love how you can literally share the gospel anywhere!! That's this week's challenge, try sharing the new Christmas video "A Savior is Born" with someone. It's a wonderful message! I can feel the spirit bursting through the screen each time I see it. How incredible. That shows me just how true this message is. We have a Savior. He was born of humble circumstances. He has given us the perfect example to follow. As we do so, we will find TRUE joy. :) 

Mary and Joseph
Wednesday we had a wonderful experience with a family. The mother and her 11 year old daughter are baptized, but no one else. The father has taken the missionary discussions many times before, but has never been baptized. The wife really wants to have their family sealed in the temple..but can't seem to understand what's holding her husband back from being baptized. They're always very busy, so it's hard to get a hold or them. On Wednesday night though, we had an appointment set up with them. We brought another recent convert with us so she could maybe relate to some of the husband's concerns. It was an amazing lesson! He has never really opened up to us like that before. We hope and pray we can continue meeting with them and see their family become sealed to each other forever. That's something that I know I want. Baptism is not a finish is the starting. Our time here on earth is not to be wasted, it is to be used to progress and come closer to our Heavenly parents. We have to practice now so we can understand what life will be like then-when we get are welcomed to all our Father has waiting for us. The gospel has a reason. We are given the tools we need to become who we originally wanted to be. We can't forget the decision we have already made once before! Anyways, we're excited for their family :) 

Something fun for this week--> Friday we had a Christmas parade! Cody (a 12 year old recent convert...super energetic and crazy kid) stole my camera and took some pictures. So I actually have pictures to send :) Although they're mostly selfies of himself. :'D Enjoy! It was sooooo much bigger than we were expecting. We ran out of candy and pass along cards before we were even a 1/4 of the way in! I was kicking myself a bit. Oh well. It was seriously a blast! I just don't know where all the people came from....apparently everyone in Cochran was there as well as their extended family. Or something. 
Cody takes a selfie

Saturday was Rose's Baptismal interview! Whew. It has been a journey to get to this point. Even now though, Satan has been working triple time on her. She has had so many doubts. We're doing all we can to remind her of the testimony she has gained. An hour before the interview she texted us and said she wanted to cancel. She just wasn't ready. We called her and talked for a good while. Knowing that there was a place she could go to for more help than we could ever give her, I told her to pick a random place in the Book of Mormon to read from. After a few minutes, we would call her and see how she was feeling. She said ok. About 15 minutes later we called, and her granddaughter said she was in the shower. We were a little confused and saddened. We thought maybe she hadn't read. Then her granddaughter told us she had said they were all going to drive to the church after Nanna finished her shower. Oh, ok. Well when she got there, we talked to her. She said she had read a chapter (I can't remember which one) and she had just decided to come. She was still nervous, but she came. After the interview, we could see such a peace and calm about her. We pray she will always remember the power the Book of Mormon holds. It is God speaking directly to us, of that I promise. It contains the fullness of the gospel. How incredible to see that Heavenly Father preserved a second witness of His son, Jesus Christ, because He knew we would need it because of the faults of mankind. I love my Father in Heaven and my Savior! I promise you will also feel their love for you as you read from those wonderful pages. 

Have a blessed week! 
Sister Brown

P.S. If you didn't get to watch the Christmas Devotional, I would strongly encourage you to do so this week! Such wonderful messages were shared! One of my favorites was that we can be truly Grateful during the season. 
Love y'all

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

A Southern Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving Y'all!

Yes we had Turkey, yes the food was all amazing, yes there was a lot of it. It was pretty much the same as a Thanksgiving meal in Utah. Some of the more "Southern" Foods that were included in our Thanksgiving meal were butter beans, Mac and cheese (the good kind), fried corn bread, corn bread dressing (I have to admit to liking the other kind better), lots of Pecan pie, Sweet potato pie(that was a new one), and of course banana pudding! I have maybe had banana pudding twice before coming it's a regular ;) Really though, it's so much better in the south! And it's everywhere.

This week feels like three all smashed together. 
Thanksgiving- It was super fun! We ran the Turkey Trot on Thursday morning. It was a 5 mile run with all sorts of members of the community. Oh how I miss running!! At least we get to do a little on the track by our apartment in the mornings. That was a blast though. Sister Demann actually won 50 dollars because everyone who ran was placed in a random drawing for money prices. Crazy right?! Later that day we went to a member's house for Thanksgiving lunch. We got to see lots of less active members and even non members. It was wonderful to see their family love and unity. There were many times when we were all able to bear testimony of the blessing of the gospel and families. It was a wonderful, spirit-ful meal. The neat thing was that President and Sister Cottle actually came to lunch with the same family! Pretty neat to have thanksgiving with your mission president.
A cute recent convert made a Christmas wreath for us
so Sister Demann and I sent our Christmas greetings :)
Make sure it's a season full of service and sharing the
light of Christ with all you meet :)
ALSO look up "A Savior is Born" if you haven't yet.

This week my testimony of fasting has been strengthened. Yesterday sister Demann and I held a special fast for a few certain investigators. All of them were close to their baptismal dates, doing great, and then all of a sudden..they were hit with different challenges that they weren't sure how to face. While we are helping them through their challenges, there is another level of conversion they must experience on their own. We knew Heavenly Father could help them with this if they had sincere desire and real intent. 

One of the individuals who had been struggling told us she was never going back to the church again, and that she was done. Our hearts ached for her and her situation, but we had to accept that it was in the Lord's hands. Naturally, we were shocked to walk into Gospel Principles class yesterday and find her waiting for the lesson. Later that night we met with her and she told us the story of how the Holy Ghost had been working with her. After watching the restoration video and reading a few scriptures afterward, she described a feeling that started in her heart, made her feel all "light and bubbly."She said she couldn't get rid of the feeling. It had stayed with her and somehow pulled her to church. She didn't mean to come, but did anyway. She told us she was trying to get away, that she was done, but that something wouldn't let her. We had been fasting and praying for her that day, and she could not deny the conversation the Holy spirit had with her spirit. When we open our heart, He WILL enter.  It was an incredible experience. 

Rug Doctor!
On Saturday we got to do a lot of service. We decorated the Ward's Christmas float and Shampooed the carpet of an investigator's house. They had 7 puppies that weren't potty trained :( I sent a pic of me with the rug doctor as the second attachment.  

Love you all tons!