Tuesday, May 31, 2016

"The most important work...is within the walls of your home"

First off, I forgot to explain the 'guns' part of the last week's email. We met with a less active who teaches a basic gun-use course...long story short it was an interesting visit in which we talked about guns and self defense a good bit. He even showed us a mold of his skull and offered to teach us a quick gun course XD Too funny. I may come back after the mission and take him up on the offer. He had some pretty neat equipment!

We found the tree of knowledge.
Onto the present...One of our goals this week was to find at least one service opportunity because we have been lacking in that area lately. Tuesday night we gathered up some tools to help out an older lady with her garden work. She absolutely loves garden work and even though she physically can't get out there and do what she needs, it doesn't stop her! So we trimmed her rose bushes, pulled weeds, and pruned the trees for a couple hours. She was loving it! It was so amazing to see the joy she received from being out in nature. The scary part of the evening, however, was that twice while we were there, her motorized chair got stuck in little holes in the grass. Let me tell you...that chair is HEAVY. When this happened, she would say, "Oh girls, I'm afraid I'm stuck again." She would them have to lean on a hoe and hold onto sister Anderson while we tried to get the chair out. While pulling her chair out the second time, I hear, "Oh babies, you're going to need to catch me!" I think Heavenly Father blessed me with quicker reflexes in that moment than I actually have, because I somehow managed to get from behind the chair to Betty's side as she was losing her balance and about to tip backwards. I am so, so grateful she didn't lose her balance because I don't think I could have gotten her back up. We're seeing little miracles every day! While there doing service for Betty, we met a lady who has been having an incredibly hard time. We were able to teach her, give her comfort, and plant a seed of faith. How amazing! We are meeting with her again soon. The really neat thing is that she already knows many members of the ward!

Doodle tried to eat my watch. 
Wednesday we went with one of the sweetest ladies in the ward. She's an incredible member missionary! One of our appointments fell through, so we told her of our back up plans. She was willing to go with us to those..but she said, "Let me introduce you to one of my friends first." How awesome!! We drove with her to her friend's house and met her and her husband...as well as their MANY pets. I may send a picture or two. We talked about family history. It was such a GREAT opportunity to begin fellow-shipping and getting other people to allow the missionaries into their homes who normally wouldn't. I have such a strong testimony of member missionary work. That is the REAL missionary work. 

We were also able to drive up to Macon yet again this week for the Trainer/Trainee meeting. It was such a wonderful experience!! I learned so much, and it made me so grateful for my wonderful companion sister Anderson! She is so sweet, humble, and has the most tender and loving spirit . She has a Powerful testimony that shines as she speaks with love. I am truly blessed. 

The Gray family (the ones with the parrot that I spoke of last week) will hopefully accept a baptismal invitation this week. They didn't make it to church, but you can see the desire for the spirit to be in their lives building with each visit. 

Cute birthday surprise from the sisters.
It seems that the theme of our visits revolve on how the most important work we can do is within our own family and close reach of influence. Harold B Lee said, “The most important of the Lord's work that you will ever do will be the work you do within the walls of your own home.”—President Harold B. Lee.  With many of the people we are working with, we have seen how if they only remained faithful and diligent..they could have affected generations. When we are strong in the faith, our light rubs off onto other people. Strengthening our family in the gospel is the MOST important work we could ever do. I pray for these families here every day. It makes me realize how great an influence our decisions have on those around us. Nothing only ever hurts or builds us. Everything we do touches someone else's life. When we begin to understand that, we take much greater care in how we live our lives. To have godly sorrow is to understand how our sins hurt those around us. In the same way, I believe true joy comes when we turn to others. Strengthen those within your reach this week! 

Love y'all!
Sister Brown

Monday, May 23, 2016

Guns, Parrots, and Paradise

First of all, Douglas is SOOO beautiful. I don't think I realized just how wonderful it is here until we were driving around a few places this week. WOW. It is Gorgeous. On Sunday we went to visit a less active family. Their backyard drops straight off into probably the cleanest water I have seen in Georgia..when the sun hits it in the evening, it looks just like you're standing by the ocean with palm trees on either side of you. Beautiful!

One of the highlights from this week was a lesson we had with a young mother named Brittney. She is less active and has just started coming back from a hard trial of leaving the gospel. It was amazing to hear her story of being atheist, to doing everything for the Lord, then making a few wrong decisions that led to a really sad time of life, and now she's finding the joy the gospel brings again. Her story made me realize just how easy it is to lose sight of everything that is most important to us if we aren't careful. Just as easy as it is to lose, however, it is just as simple to chose to get it back. Right now she is meeting with the sister missionaries again to learn more about the gospel. She loves the Book of Mormon. She never really had a good understanding of it, but now that she is reading it along with her bible, it is changing her life. Another amazing thing is...she is sharing everything she is learning with her boyfriend! When we receive something so amazing, we can't help but share it with those around us. Light will gather around you, and others will see it.

Another testimony of the Book of Mormon- We visit this less active lady who has a hard time coming to church because of medical reasons. She should hopefully be coming soon though. She made the goal to read the Book of Mormon all the way through. She has fallen in love with this book! She will read up to 7 chapters each day. While we have been here, she has read from Alma to Ether. Well, she's probably finished by the time I'm writing this...but it's amazing! When we make the time for the Lord He WILL bless us with the testimony we seek.

Something funny from this week:
We stopped by the home of a family we are hoping to teach the lessons to so their 3 children can be baptized. The mom really wants to get the whole family back into church. She knows that is what is missing from their life. When we knocked on the door, no one answered. We were confused though because we thought we heard voices. If they were home, they would have answered(this family would anyways). So we walked around to the garage to knock on that door. A little hesitant at first, we slowly walked up..when we heard voices yet again(I know...the sister missionaries were hearing voices). Yet again, audible words were spoken. So we walked up to the door, still looking for the person who could have done the talking. When we got around the front of the cars, still nothing. What? We knew there was someone in there! Then out of the corner of my eye, something moved. I turned, and there was their pet parrot! ha. SO funny. I told sister Anderson. In reply, the parrot goes, "Hello!" Then he started mimicking our laughter. Too good. I thought about teaching him the restoration...but ended up visiting another family instead. ;)

Love you all!

I loved this quote from President Uchtdorf:
"Obedience is the lifeblood of faith. It is by obedience that we gather light into our souls.... Maybe obedience is not so much the process of bending, twisting, and pounding our souls into something we are not. Instead, it is the process by which we discover what we truly are made of.
We are created by the Almighty God. He is our Heavenly Father. We are literally His spirit children. We are made of supernal material most precious and highly refined, and thus we carry within ourselves the substance of divinity.

-Sister Brown

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Plan of Salvation is REAL

What a week! We've been excited to meet a few new potential families to teach. I love finding! It's an amazing feeling to plant so many seeds of faith every day.

Wednesday we were out of a car yet again..so we got some great walking and exercise in. I think the Lord is trying to teach me something. Apparently I'm still pretty hard headed.

Wednesday night we prepared the chapel for a funeral that would be held there the next day. In these family wards, everyone is affected by a funeral of the older generation. Just as it was when we had someone pass in the Cochran ward, what a testimony of the plan of salvation. It becomes very real when you begin to imagine what your personal family member is experiencing on the other side at this very moment.
These homes with huge pastures and
mini ponies though...dream come true :D

On Thursday we made the long trip up to Macon yet again for medical purposes. At one point while we were in the hospital, there was a lady sitting next to us who was having an iron transfusion. After we all got settled in, we started a conversation with her. Then, as missionaries naturally do, we began talking about church, God, and family. She opened up to us a little and shared some of her views and thoughts. I didn't want to overstep seeing how the hospital probably wouldn't appreciate their patients feeling uncomfortable. I felt the need to ask her if she had ever heard of the Book of Mormon. As soon as the thought came into my mind..the conversation shifted in a different direction. "No!" I thought. I was praying for the right opportunity to arise again. She was nearing the end of her transfusion... and I was watching the remaining iron grow smaller and smaller. Drop by drop the chance was slipping away. Sister Anderson had closed her eyes for a minute, and the lady was eating her sandwich..so I figured well, now or never!

"Have you ever heard of the Book of Mormon?" The words were out of my mouth before I realized I had made up my mind to speak. She turned to me and said, "You know what..I think I have." Well, that initiated a full length conversation and lesson about the plan of salvation and God's love for us. There we were, Sister Anderson and I, sitting in a hospital teaching the plan of salvation (pamphlet and all) to one of the Lord's prepared children. She was excited to read the Book of Mormon and we got her information so we could send the missionaries where she lived to her. This work is true! The Lord WILL put people in our path. We just have to open our mouths...because it's NOW OR NEVER. :)

Thursday evening we had a lesson with an amazing family! They remind me of the Villella's from Hinesville (By the way, they are getting baptized in 2 weeks!!). There was a sweet feeling of the spirit in their home as their hearts were humble and their questions sincere. What a wonderful feeling! We are excited for them.

A well said quote from Sister Anderson after leaving a lesson we had Saturday morning, "It's a good thing when you walk away from a lesson with a smile on your face." When we speak by the spirit, people can feel things they never had before. It is an amazing process to visibly watch changes in someone's heart as the spirit speaks to them. What started out as a pretty routine discussion ended up as a converting conversation because of the spirit of God!
When running short on pots...

Let's allow ourselves the blessings of partaking of that spirit daily as we become more converted!

I have seen miracles, tears of joy and sadness, hearts softened, when it comes down to it..we have beheld the hand of God. What tender moments!

Love you all, and I love truth

-Sister Brown

Monday, May 9, 2016

Douglas Georgia!!

Well, I am now in Douglas Georgia serving with Sister Anderson! My third 'baby' in mission lingo. I absolutely love her! She is the sweetest girl, incredibly humble and just has the biggest heart. When she speaks, the spirit makes her words so comforting to those we visit. She's an amazing missionary already! I am so excited for the next two transfers with her! 

On Monday, sister Stout and I said goodbyes to some of the people in Statesboro. I attached a few pictures 

Sister Palmer. Sweetest lady we visited every 
once in a while. She always had a hard time 
working her new phone...so we helped her 
with the gospel library app on there.
Tuesday we went to transfers early in the morning. As soon as sister Anderson drove up with President Cottle and the new missionaries, I knew she was my new companion. We have loved getting to know each other. I can feel the miracles that will happen this transfer because of her. After the new missionary meeting and transfers, we had a few appointments to take care of in Macon that afternoon. I was so grateful and amazed how President and Sister Cottle spent the time with us individually to help us out. It taught me that no matter how 'busy' we may think we are, we need to make time for the one. That's what Christ would do, so we should do likewise. 

The rest of Tuesday consisted of a long drive back, unpacking, and reading up about the area. Thankfully, the sisters before us left things very organized. I was amazed. Because of the preparation they put into this whitewash, we have had much to do. We have met some amazing people so far. 

Mother's day was wonderful!! I feel so grateful for the family I have been born into and the love they have shown me. I KNOW families are the structure of heaven. It may seem hard when we see so many broken families in the world today, but when functioning properly, the family is the best learning and growing atmosphere. I pray that I can create an environment where my children will feel the spirit daily and learn to follow what their Father in Heaven teaches them personally. I know we can receive personal revelation because HE LOVES US. 
The Rhymes family. The are so, so good to the 
missionaries. They were recently baptized
and we would go over there about once a week
for the new member lessons. When we both left,
she gave us little care-packages. CUTEST

Yesterday we were able to visit a young mother who is living with her father and 3 yr. old daughter right now. From what we had read about her from the previous sisters, it didn't seem like she would be interested in coming back to church at all. When we went over though, we had one of the most amazing first visits I have had. I have only been here one week...but I felt a strong connection to her. By simply loving her and listening to what the spirit told us to say, she opened up to us a lot and she was really touched by our inspired questions. Heavenly Father knows exactly what she needed to hear, and I was so grateful He put that into our minds. The spirit was speaking to her last night. Of that I am sure. When that happens, we want to change. Change means we are progressing...and that is the purpose for this wonderful plan. We choose how much we progress. When we feel like we're at a stand still..then pray to know where to put that first footfall and take the step. I have loved the talk "What lack I yet?" From Larry Lawrence. Ask your eternal Father and He will tell you. 

I love you all! Fight for God's army!
-Sister Brown

Jovan was a deaf, less active member. I was so grateful
to meet her and to be able to have full conversations
with her. I think it had been a long time since she
had really had someone to sign with. What an amazing
experience! I was a bit rusty, but she was patient
and had the biggest heart! I'll miss her dearly! 

Monday, May 2, 2016

Goodbye Statesboro

What a week! After being with Sister Stout for this short amount of time...we have both learned so much. Wow. What incredible experiences we have had. We come here for the people we teach, but we also come for our companions. I have only friends, and those I don't know well enough yet. I am so grateful for the lasting friendships found in the mission! We are here to learn and grow from each other. Find your friends this week! Make new ones, catch up with old ones, find your family. :)

This week was amazing. We had a few wonderful service opportunities, met some amazing people through miraculous ways, and saw the love of our Savior grow stronger within those we continue to work with. I wish I had more time to tell you the stories...but some of those will have to wait. 
During our weekly planning on Friday, I received a call from the APs extending the call for me to train again! I am so excited! I absolutely love training new missionaries. It is such a wonderful experience to be put with these sisters who have a fire in their eyes and excitement in their step. I feel honored and blessed to be a part of their life. In all honesty, I probably just need to go through the training program all over again for a third time...maybe I'll finally get it right. ;) 

Oh, I will be white wash training again as well just like with sister Lewis. 
Saying Goodbye to sister Palmer!
Sweetest lady ever!

With that being said, we changed some plans around and drove up to the mission home in Macon to have a trainers meeting with the three other trainers (and Elder Holt-AP-who will also be training). The meeting was filled with the spirit and love. It was run a little bit differently than they usually do it in the past. I really liked it. We had more of a discussion than a training. A few things that really stick out to me this time around is how it truly is an opportunity to serve. It is an opportunity to find humility. Leadership positions never, never put us above another person. It becomes even MORE critical to listen and love those we serve. Always look out, never in. 

Then on Sunday, we went on a mini 'exchange' with some other sisters in the zone so Sister Lewis and I could attend MLC (mission leadership council). Since I am training, I won't be an STL (I know...there are so many acronyms to remember :D That's a sister training leader) this next transfer. It was a treat to attend at least one more meeting. Those are the absolute best. You feel the righteous desires of all the mission leaders in the room, and that is amazing...but then President Cottle speaks, and the spirit just flows into the room so powerfully. 
This was a special meeting because Elder Tony Parker from the 70 was there. He has a wonderful speaking style. His brother is actually a very well known baptist preacher in Atlanta. So imagine that at an LDS mission leadership meeting. Too good :) A neat story from him..he spoke at his brother's congregation one Easter. For about 10 minutes. Being missionary minded, he naturally shared the account of the Savior's earthly visit to the people in the America's found in 3 Nephi chapter 11 of the Book of Mormon. He told his brother he wouldn't hand out any copies of the Book or Mormon while in his sanctuary..but all bets were off when the people hit the sidewalk. In short, the two missionaries Elder Parker brought with him that day gave out hundreds of copies of the Book of Mormon and didn't have enough to go around to everyone that wanted one. People are HUNGRY for these glorious words. We simply have to present them as the precious pearl they are and to those with humble hearts. Share it with your friends! Share it with those you've met for the first time that day. I promise they will receive it better from you than any other way. Fall in love with this work! 
A classic car selfie with Sister Stout on the way to Macon.
We just really needed a couple pictures together because
neither of us has taken many. I love sister Stout!
I'll be sad to leave her, but excited for the adventures
that await her in her next area.

This week, I have continued to feel changes within myself. I absolutely love, love, love this work. I always have...but I have found something even more. There is nothing I would rather do. I fall more and more in love with the mission each day. Agency is a beautiful gift. I know that as we choose to love, and be a part of, the things that matter most, we will find a mighty change of heart within ourselves. 

Love y'all!!
-sister Brown