Monday, February 29, 2016

Showing love through persistence

Cleaning, moving, baby showers, and more! Yet again, another incredible week in Georgia.

Cleaning-We have been helping a less active family move their house. It was on the we couldn't ask too many extra people for help. Not to mention that all the kids had already moved out months ago and the house had been untouched in many areas where they usually were at. So...we had a lot or work to do. It was the missionaries and the mom packing up and scrubbing this house. I'll tell ya, the mission is preparing me to be very clean and well organized in my family life. Everything ended well and she was extremely grateful for the extra hands.

Baby showers- A few ladies in the ward threw a baby shower for this young mother who hasn't been active recently. It was wonderful to see how many people came and supported her. She's such a cutie! We somehow hadn't met her until that night, so we're now going to meet with her and her husband regularly to help them pick up those priceless habits they've been missing that lead us closer to our Father in Heaven. Also, it was amazing how many of her friends we were able to meet who were not members of the church that we probably would never had seen otherwise. A few of them asked us questions about our missionary service and what we do. So wonderful! We're hoping to see more of them later.

We finally got to meet with Emily again. She is the friend of a member in the ward. She has a cute...and extremely picky/particular 3 year old who loves to run around like crazy during our lessons :D But it was so neat to meet with her this week because she had read the intro to the Book of Mormon and I was so surprised by how willing she is to learn more. You never know who is ready. Something she said that made me smile (she's very honest). It went something like this:  "When I was reading it, I couldn't help but think how far-fetched the stories sounded. Then the thought came to me..well, so is the Bible. I might as well give it a try." So true. Sometimes we judge new things far too harshly just because we are not familiar with them.

Oh, something crazy...because of a family and medical condition, one of the women's husbands in the ward was able to come home from Korea for 2 weeks. That's pretty much unheard of in the Army. It was a miracle that it happened...because she was in a bad state and their marriage was getting pretty rocky. It just testified to me how important the family is to God. Only because of Him was this miracle possible, and I firmly believe it happened so that their family will not fall apart but rather be sealed in the temple one day as an eternal unit.

The part member family we have been working with came to church this week! It was the happiest moment to see all of them walk up to the front doors in their Sunday best. They are still making many changes in their life to live the gospel again...but that's just it, they're making changes! :D God doesn't ask for immediate perfection...but He does ask for immediate progress. (Tad R Callister)

A few funny moments of the week:

*while at a part member's house whom we have had an extremely hard time getting a hold of...we were waiting at the door as a van slowed down but then sped back up and continued driving by. Yep, it was their van. Sad day! Ha :'D We laughed it off.
We may have not been able to talk to them that day..but we felt like we needed to go back Sunday. We caught the mom right as she was going outside to check on something. We were able to have a wonderful, enjoyable visit with the family. If nothing else, it at least showed them that we are here to be their friends and not someone who they need to feel like they have to avoid.

*The 12 year old son of yet another part member family answered the door after us knocking last night. He's one of those people to just kind of say whatever he thinks and it doesn't always sound how he probably meant it. He yells over his shoulder at his parents "It's them again!" You may say we're persistent, but we do so with love :) :) We also had a great lesson/chat with the mother and 2 of her sons kept coming out to talk with us. It's all about loving the people!

*One afternoon we were in an apartment complex and we ended up with ALL the neighborhood kids following us around. So funny. Kids are honestly the best! They can also feel the spirit so strongly. They usually ask us over and over again if we can visit their families. Sometimes their parents let us in..sometimes they don't. Imagine if we all followed the Savior's admonition to 'become as little children.' Either way, we ended up with a big band of followers. :D

All I've got time for this week. Be safe! Share the gospel! And take advantage of the time we have now to study!!!! Knowledge is so priceless!

Much love,

Sister Brown

Monday, February 22, 2016

Back to School :)

This week has been full of meeting new people and seeing little miracles. We have been in the stages of finding a LOT recently. One of the lessons I learned while in Cochran was that when you're prompted to go visit someone, you should ALWAYS knock on their neighbor's door as well. My testimony of this concept has been strengthened this week it seems that every person we have felt we should stop and talk to isn't there...but their neighbor's ALL answered their door. We were able to plant some good seeds. This coming week we're planning on going back to visit with them. Hopefully the spirit will have worked with all of them and they will be prepared for the gospel! 

We had a lesson with one of our investigators in the park this week. It was so fun! Her kids got to get out and play while we read from the Book of Mormon and talked about our Heavenly Father's plan for us. The neat thing was, at the end of the lesson she said, "Ya, next time I need to bring a friend, and we can all study together." Ha yes! How wonderful! As she had felt this bring more light into her life, she desired to share it with others. Hopefully we'll have a regular book club each Wednesday afternoon at the park ;)

On Friday we were able to go to zone conference. I LOVE LOVE LOVE zone conference. The spirit there was so strong. As President Cottle gave his first two trainings on the spirit world and resurrection the feeling was indescribable. It was as if you could reach out and just grab the feeling that was burning in the air. I know this gospel is true. I know that the Holy Ghost is the teacher of real truth. I know that if we listen, our Father WILL testify to us of things we need to know. 

This weekend we had stake conference. There were some wonderful talks shared. Something that stuck out to me was the huge emphasis this stake put on missionary work and how we treat others. It seemed like almost every speaker related their message to member missionary work in some way. Seeing as member missionary work is SO important here, it made me so happy and grateful for these messages. Is it becoming a more regularly referred topic in other wards as well now? What we each do individually does matter and makes the biggest impact on the world. Treasure up the chance to gain new knowledge and experience, then share the light you receive with others! 

Sister Lewis got accepted to BYU this week! That was such a fun surprise. We went to lunch at the Cottles on Sunday and they had sent them a copy of the acceptance letter for her to read. So they got her reaction as she saw the letter for the first time. So awesome! We're pretty excited to go home and end up being visiting teaching companions! How neat would that be? Re-living the glory days! :D 

Enjoy the week and move the work forward!
Love y'all!
Sister Brown

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Week Two of Tornados

Since President's day was yesterday, the library was closed. So emailing is today :) Sorry I forgot to warn you all.

Round 2 of tornado warnings...we don't think there 
were any real tornadoes..but the high speed wind sure 
did some damage. That's someone's car under a tree. 
Poor neighbors :( it provided for lots of service 
opportunities though! You can just imagine what it 
looked like when the real tornado hit last week.
This week was a slower one, but still full of some amazing work and visits. We've started working with a wonderful part member family. They're so sweet and they're really trying to come back to church. Their 2 kids want to be baptized, so we've been going over there to teach lessons. After our lesson on Tuesday, their daughter showed us this jelly bean game that's apparently a popular thing. You flip a spinner and it lands on a color. You don't know if it's going to be a good flavor or a nasty flavor. It was hilarious!! We needed that laugh :)

On Thursday Sister Lewis and I gave a training in Zone training meeting on Faith, hope, and repentance. It went pretty well. I learned so much through that study. I hope something clicked for the other missionaries we were with. On the way back from Pooler we met with this wonderful lady! We're so excited to study with her. She has met with the missionaries before and was so excited to see us. She was very rough at first but warmed up as soon as she realized who we were. I just love to see the gospel change lives! Every day I feel that the one it is changing the most is mine. 

Went to Savannah! We had to drive out for an
errand on p-day so we went a few extra miles to
Savannah. It's such a beautiful city!
We've done a couple service projects as carpets and cleaning yards. We got a call last night from Sister Cottle at about 2:30 in the morning...we actually weren't awake enough to answer it...but found out the next morning of more tornado warnings. Apparently Sister Cottle's window was shattered by flying tree branches. Poor Sister Cottle, she was so stressed and nervous. There were some pretty high speed winds. Today that's what we've been doing. Cleaning up yards. It's great to get out in the community. :)

One study I have loved recently is what it means to be a consecrated missionary. I truly want to give my all to this mission. Every moment of our lives is precious. There's so much to do, we might as well spend this valuable time doing things that are truly of great worth. What will that be for you this week? 

Love you all! Be safe and be the light for someone this week! 

Sister Brown

Monday, February 8, 2016

Surprises :)

This If I could use one word to describe it, I would choose: SURPRISE. We had all sorts of fun surprises. The incredible thing though was how miraculous those surprises were. 
To start off, I was in my first tornado. That was a new one. Wait no..I'm getting ahead of myself. Ok, we'll organize it like this:

Miracle 1.
On Tuesday we went to see this investigator that we've been working with a little bit in the past. EVERY time we go to knock on her door though, her neighbor one door to the right answers. It's funny the first two times...the third time it's just embarrassing. Background info--every time we went to this apartment complex, I naturally started walking to the left to knock on a different door that I could see in my mind. Every time, Sister Lewis would ask where I was going and patiently inform me I was walking the wrong way to get to Kendra's (the investigator we're teaching). I would laugh, shake my head, and turn around. This is also funny the first two times it happens...but just downright embarrassing and frustrating when it comes to the third time. Eventually Sister Lewis says "Apparently the spirit is trying to get us to knock on that door." Well, Kendra wasn't there, so we went to the door I had been drawn to..and no response. The next day we go to see Kendra. Her neighbor answers instead, again....but it's her son. We start talking to him until she comes to the door. We all awkwardly laugh and then she asks, "Don't I know you from somewhere?" (pointing at Sister Lewis). We told her probably not but continued talking to try and figure it out. Long story short...we had met her when we went to her mother's house to drop off a bible. We had an amazing first discussion with her and her mother, but then they moved and we lost all contact with them. They had told us to visit them in the new place they were moving to, but we were new to the area and couldn't figure out where the apartments were when we later tried. So BOOM! We miraculously were led to her daughter. BUT wait..there's more. She told us to visit her mother...Turns out her mother lives in that apartment I kept being pulled to!!! WHAT?! It was honestly a miracle. We are now teaching them. I'll let you know how it goes :) 
Eugene (the father of a lady we are teaching) always
wants to wash our car. So we finally let him
one day while we were in a lesson. Pretty funny...
but he did a great job and our car totally needed it!

Miracle 2.
So Wednesday was the Tornado. There are some crazy stories with that which I don't really have time to share right now. I'll see if I can send some pictures next week. Basically it tore up Fort Stewart but no one was killed or seriously injured. Some people lost their homes and cars. There's a lot of construction happening on base right now...but we're all safe and happy. So for the miracle... That evening we had an appointment set up in Midway with a gentleman in the ward and his wife. They were planning on having their neighbor over to hear the discussions. He's had a rough life...has a very serious addiction to alcohol right now, but agreed to talk with the missionaries. We were excited to meet him and hoped to share with him the light of the gospel which we know can change his life. Well..the tornado happened and our plans were all thrown out of wack. Traffic getting on and off base was ridiculous (as you can imagine). By the time we were able to get off base (and the tornado warning had been officially called off), we would be an hour late to the appointment. We tried to explain this to the member who was a 30 minute drive away, but he didn't seem to understand the situation and was very insistent that we still keep the appointment. Our ride who was originally going to go with us canceled because of the weather. So we were left to our own and had to decide how to handle the situation. We prayed and didn't feel great about it..but me and my persistence..we started the drive anyways. I know that sounds really dumb, but the most that was happening with the weather were some thunderstorms and it was all moving away from the direction we were going. I know, still not smart...but bear with me. So we were driving and about 25 minutes into the drive I was still not feeling good about it at all. I asked sister Lewis how she was feeling about going through with the lesson and to sum it up...she wasn't feeling good about it at all. We pulled over to pray and both felt very strongly we needed to turn around. Not knowing how we would break the news to the member, but feeling strongly the Lord would help us, I flipped a U turn and we headed back. We were so, so anxious about the outcome, but told him in the best way we knew how over the phone and just let him know we were following the spirit. His response was SO out of character it shocked us both into tears. He was more than understanding. He was very supportive. Heavenly Father worked things out just as they needed to be. We probably won't know why things had to happen the way they did..but I know that the Lord will lead us if we let him.

Kyler's birthday was this week. His mom is a recent
convert who we visit and teach new member lessons to.
Miracle 3.
We had a less active family we've been trying to work with tell us that their 2 children ages 10 and 8 are interested in being baptized and they want to have us teach them. They're all trying to come back to church. How incredible! When we got this news we were so, so happy for their family!! They are making changes together that will bring the only lasting happiness we can find on this earth. 

Miracle 4.
Heavenly Father led us to a woman who recently had her son-in-law pass away. We are now teaching them (her and her daughter) both. They are more than prepared for the gospel. You can just see the pleading look of someone in need of answers. Something to heal a wound that has touched their soul. While we were sitting with her I wished I could take everything I know and just give it to her. Little by little the Holy Ghost will teach her and fill that need she has.

I'm so grateful to be a part of this work. Share it with a friend this week!!! 
Much love,
Sister Brown

Monday, February 1, 2016

January is over??

Well this week FLEW by. It seems like last week I had no idea what to write about..and this week there just isn't enough space to fit it all in.

Monday we went to Savannah. Not River street (which is what I'm really looking forward to) but we did go to the mall and played sports with the sisters and Elders from all over both Savannah East and West Zone. Volleyball was a blast. The dodge-ball game they made up...not so much fun. When you had the ball, everyone was staring at you watching you try to get someone out. I'm definitely not big into that. Regardless, we had a wonderful time.  

Shopping in Savannah!

That evening we saw a few little miracles before FHE. We got back into Hinesville and started looking for service opportunities. We're trying to build/start the Just serve program here in Hinesville. I'm not sure if anyone has heard of it...but it's probably pretty established in the Utah missions already. Look it up :D Anyways.. we were sitting at the hospital waiting to speak to someone, and there was this cute family on my side. I chatted with them for a good 20 minutes and ended up leaving them with a pamphlet and our number. At the same time, there was a lady who sat down next to sister Lewis who was clearly having a rough day. She was teary eyed and just sort of down. Sister Lewis mostly talked to one point during the conversation she said "you're christian people aren't you" Sister Lewis said yes, showed her her name tag and explained who we were.  She said, "Sweetie, I didn't need to see a name tag, I could see it in your faces." , We left her with a card and our number and gave her a hug. As we were leaving the hospital, this sweet woman turned to her neighbor and started telling her about us and how we were good people. That made my whole day. 
But it doesn't stop there. Guess who we got a call from the next day? HER! She called to tell us her blood sugar had gone down dramatically and thanked us for our prayers. What a wonderful lady and an incredible miracle.

Another amazing experience from this week was our lesson we had with Jaquanne. She ordered a bible around Christmas time. We dropped it off to her with a card for "A Savior is Born." We tried so diligently after that to continue seeing her as we said we would...but she was never home, or her kids would answer the door and we couldn't talk with her. It was just never really worked out until she kept the appointment one day, and she was actually there with her mother who was visiting for the week. We had a good first discussion, they both seemed interested..but a bit distracted. We left her with a copy of the Book of Mormon and asked her to read and pray about the introduction. We set a return appointment for that Friday when we were planning to explain the Book of Mormon and introduce the story line, etc. Well...we show up and she invites us to sit down. We visit for a while, open with a prayer, and ask her about her reading. She tells us it was great and that she did read. WOW! Someone actually kept their commitment the first time around. We were so happy. So we ask her what she thought of the introduction. She said it was great and that she was actually on the 4th chapter of Nephi right now. What?! We're super excited. She read all the testimonies, intros, and 4 chapters. Talk about exciting. So we decided to continue introducing the story and timeline of the Book of Mormon to her because it would still be best to set up a good base for her future reading. Ya....she pretty much finished our sentence on every explanation of the pictures in the front of the book. It was awesome. Her family all came to church this week. (besides her husband who is military and away from home right now...he gets back this or next week) and said they really enjoyed it. They had to leave early because of a family emergency. We're not sure what's going on there...but we're keeping them in our prayers and they said they were excited to get to stay for the whole thing next Sunday :) How amazing! It's so neat to see how much light has already come into their lives!! 
Elder Peterson is leaving... the joke was always that
I LOVE the white handbook. He's a huge jokester
so I'd often quote the white hand book when
he would talk about doing something crazy/against
mission rules. He was never serious, it was just funny.
Sad news, Amberli moved this week. It will be good because she has good friends who will be a positive influence and probably the exact thing she needs...but it's sad to see her go already. She has made so many changes in her life slowly but surely. This last week she actually told us that she has had less and less desire to drink coffee and she's not sure why. Then she said...well, I know why. It's clearly God telling me I don't really need it. Then she shook her fist and yelled, "That darn Book of Mormon!" haha that describes her perfectly! We love and miss her so much! I'm grateful for all the eternal friends I've made while I've been here. One day I pray we will see her and her family in the temple. 

Quick news on transfers...Sister Lewis and I are both safe. Elder Peterson on the other hand...he's a goner. So we'll be getting a new zone leader and member of the Hinesville family this week! That's seriously what it feels like here since we all work so closely together and we have the Cottles. 

Exciting stuff! Be safe. Find JOY in the gospel! aaaaand share that joy :)

Sister Brown