Monday, June 27, 2016

"Summer vacation--Don't forget to invite God to go!"

Both Sister Anderson and I have barely been able to keep our eyes open the last few days with how crazy this week was. We started a really neat challenge/experience to increase our spiritual worthiness. It will last for the rest of the transfer, and has showed us many miracles already. When we sanctify ourselves and prepare ourselves to be worthy vessels of the Holy Ghost, our loving Heavenly Father will bless us with the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost-a member of the Godhead! WOW. 

Tuesday we had to say goodbye to President and Sister Cottle. What a bitter sweet experience that was! I am excited for them and their next step of life...but I will dearly miss them and all they have done for our mission. They truly care for each of us personally. You can feel the power and love in their words. They live worthy of our Father's direction, and you can see it through the bright light that shines in their eyes. I pray for them, and know they will change lives in Utah. :) One message I would like to share from their parting words is "No empty chairs." When we are in the celestial kingdom with our families, we don't want to see any empty chairs. Let's make sure we do all we can to get everyone there. Next week we will welcome in the Graysons. What an incredible experience! Their lives are about to be completely changed!

Saw a mural during one of our longer drives. :D

After our goodbyes, we went on exchanges with the Hazlehurst sisters. Hazlehurst is such a cute little town! One of the goals of the sister I was serving with was that she would know everyone in the town. Wow. While that seems like an incredible feat, it prepares people! Even if they don't accept the gospel at this time, they may in the future. By leaving them with a good impression and an opportunity for them to act, she is leaving them with a sturdy seed of faith that can be prepared for that moment when their heart is softened and ready to accept the incredible message of the restoration! Miracles happen when we have the bravery and diligence to do this work in all situations. 

Remember Miss Betty? Well, we haven't been seeing her much because she really isn't progressing...and it doesn't look like she will in the future. However, Thursday was her birthday! So we made her some cute little pipe cleaner flowers and put them in a mason jar with a ribbon and some dirt. It sounds awful, but was actually quite adorable. We dropped them off that evening while staying for a few minutes to visit with her. She was trying to put together a new bird bath...long story short, sister Anderson and I learned how to assemble an elaborate bird bath. Miss Betty is so sweet, but every time I think about her, I consider what our conversation might go like in the next life.... I may say something like, "Miss Betty! I'm so happy to see you!" to which I pray she doesn't ask, "Sister Brown, why didn't you tell me what I was missing?" We try so hard to help people understand what their life could be like...but ultimately, it is up to them to decide to act upon the message. We do all we can, but in the end, it is up to them. I love these people and pray with all the energy of my heart that they let it in. 

The Coca cola factory/not sure what to call it...driving
through Mcrae 
I am out of time, but let me just say....our first investigator in Douglas came on Sunday!!!!! It has been a challenge to get them here, so hopefully that will start picking up speed soon. Also, we met an amazing family Sunday night-the Hansleys. They're so sweet and definitely an answer to prayers. I couldn't get their neighborhood out of my mind. So we went there on our way home at 8:50 at night to find whoever we needed to. We drove until the spirit told us to stop, got out, and their sons came running up to us. We talked to them for a while, then the asked us if we wanted to talk with our parents. Their parents invited us in to sit and talk at their table where they had just been having a discussion of their own. It was a wonderful evening! Work to the very last minute! It pays off :D This work is amazing! I love being completely enveloped in it! 

Sister Brown
PS. Enjoy your summer vacation and invite God in all you do!!

Monday, June 20, 2016

"God is the Greatest Father of all Fathers"

Happy Father's day to all the fathers AND father figures out there! You make a world of difference and truly have such a great and noble calling. There is no greater responsibility. In fact, even God chose to be called by the title "Father." Just imagine how much more respectful we could be of this incredible role and calling. Thank you to those who have made being a father their first priority and not an afterthought. 

This week we will be saying goodbye to President and Sister Cottle. Talk about a difficult task. I have come to love and admire this couple so incredibly much. They are firmly rooted in the gospel. They are unwavering. Light literally radiates from them in every situation which they are placed. My testimony of the gospel has been entrenched deeper and deeper because of this couple. I am eternally grateful for the role they have played in my progress of becoming a more dedicated disciple of the Lord. I will let y'all know how the goodbyes go. 

We had a wonderful lady in our ward go in for surgery on her foot this week, so sister Anderson and I made a point to stop by and visit her and bring her a small 'Get well' gift. She has taught me so much through her example of being a good member missionary, but this week she taught me yet again about the importance of humor. I honestly do feel that we should work to develop a good sense of humor. That may sound odd...but when we understand how to find humor in every situation, we are able to have a positive attitude and let the negative things go. Plus, a laugh is good for you. :D 

Here is a neat story about how the Lord is mindful of what we do when we are being diligent. This Friday, the Elders had our car because they're on bikes and every once in a while we will let them have a break and use the car to go to some of their farther appointments. So, sister Anderson and I were on foot. Earlier that afternoon, we had decided there was no chance it would storm because the sky was blue, the air was hot, and it hadn't rained for a while. Well around 7:00 the sky started looking a bit stormy. Without our raincoats or umbrellas, we were a bit intimidated by the dark clouds slowly overwhelming the sky. We ran into this lady that was about to go on a run. While chatting with us, she told us she was going to try finishing her run by 8 because a big thunderstorm was supposed to hit at 8:15 (It was now 7:40). Uh oh. Well, it wasn't bad yet so we continued on. We got to miss Irene's house (sorry..I still don't have a picture), said hi for a couple minutes, and all of a sudden the wind picked up. We left her front porch and decided to run to quickly walk to our investigators' house just across the street. The other sisters had to be home early for another reason, and we called them to see where they were at just in case we needed an emergency ride. They were willing to pick us up, but we had no idea what we would do once they picked us up because we still had an hour of proselyting time. So, deciding to be diligent, and knowing it would not be the end of the world if we got wet (although it may come close because this Georgia rain is pretty relentless), we went on to our next appointment. Here is where the miracles show up. We had our lesson while a very thunderous and pounding rainstorm drenched the city. Then the spirit told us it was time to end the lesson even though we had only been there about 30 minutes. So, while it rained, we said the closing prayer. Right before praying, and while praying, the rain let up. BLESSINGS! As we left there house it was only a sprinkle. Wow, how amazing! God sees what we do and gives us blessings that we don't even need just to let us know He loves us. We were able to go to one more house before walking home, and it was an incredible evening! 

We don't get fed by members often in this ward, but Sunday we had a meal with a family in the ward! They're super cute! And a little crazy...XD But I absolutely love their little girl. Her name is Rebecca. Something super funny she said to her mom at one point (not while we were there) that I thought I would share was this: "I wanted to be the tooth fairy when I grow up...but then I realized there is a real tooth fairy. So now I'm just going to be a lion. ROAR!" :D haha so cute! I love kids. 

From this morning's reading: 3 Nephi 12:48 "Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in Heaven is perfect." 
Sister Anderson and I walking home in the
rain and capturing the incredible lightning
storms. Summer brings the most beautiful
scenes here in Georgia!
Matthew 5:48 (notice how they're both 48...hmm ;) ) "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." the footnote on perfect says it means to be "complete, finished, fully developed." We had such an incredible time with these two verses..but I will just share one thought. Christ WOULD that we should be perfect. Which is to be fully developed. To become(a current process which is not completed until after resurrection as we learn by the fact that in Matthew Christ does not include himself in this verse but does include himself in 3 nephi after having risen) perfect, we must start now. We must start by developing the characteristics which He teaches of in the preceding chapters. The scriptures are such a marvelous guide to personal development! My invitation to you would be to study these chapters and the Christlike attributes, then to work on one each week. By this manner, we can become perfect even as our Father AND Savior now are. 

Love you all! Be safe, take care, and remember what your are made of! 
-Sister Brown

Monday, June 13, 2016

Ready or Not, Jesus is Coming!

We're both staying in Douglas! Sister Anderson and I are both staying together another transfer. Yay! It's a good thing because I sure love this girl! 
Got to Love the Billboards in Georgia!

This week was wonderful. A little story on one of the Davis families...(this is a family ward, so lots of people have the same last name :D Just like in Cochran). We went to Carl and Larissa's. We've been visiting them for a couple weeks on and off. Their two boys always tell us "tell me a story!" So we've been through a good number of Book of Mormon stories with them, relating it to principles in the gospel. They love it! So this last week we went over the plan of Salvation. They loved hearing that story! The mom (who is also a non member) was really into it as well. At the end of the lesson, we asked them if they all would like to be baptized so they could start on that path to live together as a family in the Celestial kingdom. They all said yes!! How amazing! They are all making changes in their life to really apply this gospel. We are so excited for their family to one day be an eternal unit. During the PEC meeting Sunday morning, we let everyone know, and they were all so excited! You could feel energy all of a sudden explode in the room. It's wonderful to see the excitement that missionary work brings to those around us. Share your stories with others and get them excited to do their own work! 
Birthday Surprise!

Tuesday was sister Anderson's birthday!! She's officially 21 :D Crazy! We had German pancakes (her favorite), cake and brownies, and taught lots of lessons. Nothing better. 

It was also a sweet older woman's birthday named Miss Irene. We brought her a mini peach pie on Tuesday and wished her a happy birthday. Y'all should have seen her face light up! She lost 10 years and seemed like a happy child on Christmas morning. It's seriously one of the cutest things I've seen yet. I'll get a picture with her this week hopefully. Anyways, she was so touched by the small act of love. Her friend was over, and we were actually able to teach her about the restoration before we left. When we love the people, the work moves forward. Usually in ways we wouldn't expect. :) So give some small act of service this week!  

This was probably one of the most dangerous moments
in my mission...opening that door took a lot of courage
Ok, so a bit of a crazy story...but it just gives you a little glimpse into what an average week consists of here. One of our investigators (actually she's the elder's, but we will probably take over teaching her soon) came to church this week! She typically comes without any reminding at all, but we were surprised to see her because we thought she was still in jail. Her family situation isn't the greatest..yet she lives really close to all of them so that can cause some contention. As she was telling us about what happened, she explained that her sister was being awful and kept hitting her she said, "I bit her in the butt!" Thus, she ended up in jail. This lady is a fireball. But she totally loves the gospel! It takes all types. Even though some of us may have unique personalities, we should love ALL those around us. We love her. It's amazing to see the changes the gospel can make to our life.

One of the biggest dogs I have seen yet.
Thank heavens it was nice..just really slobbery.
Sister Anderson and I decided he was
"The beast" from sandlot.
I have been loving the study of prayer. I am working on making my prayers more powerful. Moroni 7:9 teaches us that if we don't pray with real profits us nothing. How sad! We should speak with our Father in Heaven as we would if we could see Him standing right next to us. He hears us and wants to hear from us. If we asked our parents for advice but then never took it, obviously they would cease to provide us with counsel. Our conversations with our Father in Heaven are valuable and should be treated as such. Let me know if you have neat experiences with prayer this week! I will be working on mine! :) 

Love you all!
-Sister Brown
Aaaand Lots of Vultures in the Summer :)

Sunday, June 12, 2016

"God loves you and there is nothing you can do about it!"

Sister Anderson had this incredibly clever idea where she takes the marque sign from the churches we pass and uses it as her subject that's what I'll do from now on. They're just so clever!

Here comes the heat!! This week has made me wonder how on earth I made it last summer. It's only June and it feels like I literally start melting the moment we step outside. YAY! ha Thank heavens the rain comes down often.

Ok, so super cool lesson we had this week..we went over to a less active lady's house. Her name is Brittney, she's 28, and has a little girl who is 3. Anyways, we were talking with her, and she's always so on fire about the gospel and the Lord. While visiting with her, her boyfriend pulls up in his truck. She had told us before about how he had started to show interest in learning more about the church. She always tells him what she learns. She's a member...but never had a full understanding of the gospel. So when he walks in the house, she asks him if he wants to read some scriptures from the Book of Mormon with us since now is as good a time as any to learn about the church. Did I mention how much I love this girl? So she starts explaining to him everything from the first 7 chapters of the Book of Mormon that we had already read. When she gets excited, she starts to talk really fast and use her hands a lot. The more she talked about Nephi and his family's story...the faster her sentences got and the bigger her hand gestures became. ha we then read two chapters with them, stopping for a few discussion questions here and there. After we read and discussed, she started asking all these questions about the plan of Salvation. She knows her bible REALLY well, so I related it back to what she knows in there. Her eyes were so bright and her smile so huge. She was on fire! The holy ghost was there with us in that lesson, and her boyfriend said he was sad we didn't have more time to read and visit. We're so excited to work more with them this week.
Miss Betty! We just love this lady. We had a wonderful heart 
to heart with her this past week. I don't know if she is ready 
to progress in the gospel right now, but it was wonderful 
to hear her sincere love for her Savior. She expressed feelings 
of not doing all He desired of her. I believe we all have those 
feelings of inadequacy..but we don't need to. As we humbly 
recognize our true, divine potential, we will also recognize the 
beautiful healing of God's forgiveness. Every time we fall short 
of what He expects from us, we can get back up and try again. 
Reach out to those in need as you reach heavenward for 
His strength. Love yall!

Another neat lesson was with a part member family. The husband isn't a member. He says he wants to believe in it all...but he just hasn't felt like God has confirmed that this is the truth yet. We read from Joseph Smith's history with them, and he connected so well with Joseph! We felt that some of the comments were intended to play devil's advocate...but we pointed out the truth in what he was saying and it actually strengthened the lesson. At the end, he really opened up about some of his struggles. We discussed how we have to be willing to turn our will over to the Lord. The topic of a sense. The spirit entered into the room as soon as we discussed the Sabbath day and the importance of keeping it holy. This amazing couple knew it was what they were holding back from the Lord. Whether they were ready to admit it or not, the spirit was there supporting our words and testifying of truth! Amazing.

Our other part member family (Trish [mom, dating a less active member] and her son [12]are the ones being taught) I have spoke of before is not yet on date for  baptism...but they are on their way. In fact, we talked about how the parents are planning to get married soon! Yay! Living the gospel requires action. Faith is action. What a remarkable leap of faith.

Sister Lewis sent me an alligator that grows in water...
look at this beauty.
We have continued finding in every situation. It is amazing how many new investigators we have found recently. People are hungry for this gospel! We must simply reach out to them and invite them in! Invite, Invite, Invite :D

Sister Brown