Monday, July 25, 2016

Be an Organ Donor - Give Your Heart to Jesus

News on Transfers--Sister Anderson and I will both be staying together in Douglas!! We were both overjoyed and are SO excited for the people here. We can feel the success coming. Only 20% of our mission was moved for President Grayson's first transfer. In the past, transfers typically consisted of about 60-70% moving. Missionaries may be staying in areas much longer now, or at least while President Grayson gets to know us better. 

This week I'll organize by people/families.

Carl and Larissa Family:

We visited a Less Active member (who wasn't home...)
But ended up visiting their pigs instead! These little
guys came waddling out of nowhere.
This is the family I often talk about. (The one with the bleach story last week). Tuesday evening we were tracting around part of Douglas and ran into a young couple named Kylee and Adam. Upon visiting with her, she asked if we knew a Larissa. We lit up and exclaimed, "Yes! We do." She then explained that she was Larissa's best friend and that Larissa had her baby that afternoon!! We were so excited. We knew the baby was coming soon..but we didn't know exactly when it would be happening. Well, we left some reading material with them both and plan to come back another time. As soon as we walked back to our car, we called Larissa (poor woman...she was still in the hospital and here are the sister missionaries calling to yell about how excited we are for her. ha) and talked with her for a little. She ended up getting home Wednesday afternoon and we went to visit them all Thursday Evening. The baby is so precious! She's absolutely adorable and has such a wonderful family! Oh, it was the most amazing thing in the world. Anyways...we got to the end of our visit, had a short spiritual thought, and invited the boys to church with their grandparents (we assumed the parents would be staying home with the baby). Carl pipes up and says, "Well, we'll be at church." I about fell out of my seat. We were absolutely ecstatic. In the end, we mentioned how the baby may need to wait a little before going out in public, but their whole family is truly ready to make changes. They should be at church either this week or next. 
I don't typically ask people to pray for our investigators, but I know many of you do anyways. Well, I wanted to let you know, we can feel those prayers. So thank you :)

Payne Family:

We had met with this family once before a couple months ago. They didn't show any interest at all, so we didn't bother going back. Well, we continued feeling like our visits would be really good if only for the sake of the children. They are so sweet and don't have much religion in their life right now. Well, we drove through the mud to get to their home and upon arrival, pulled in right as the husband was pulling out. We were able to engage in a short but much needed conversation. He doesn't really come out to talk to the missionaries, as far as we knew. So it was wonderful to meet him at all. As we knocked on the door, we were expecting the wife to talk with us for a short while but then kindly tell us to come back another time. Turns out, she invited us right in. Her daughter (who is about 7 and loves us) came running up and gave us giant hugs. Long story short, she accepted our offer to help around the house, and we went right to work. At the end, her husband came home and they invited us to stay for dinner. How amazing! We were able to engage in a wonderful discussion on the repentance, the sacrament, and invited them to church. We learned what is holding them back, and made real progress with the family. This complete change of heart was amazing. 

*Funny side note--upon our cleaning crusade through the house, we couldn't help but notice a screen showing footage from three video surveillance cameras monitoring different areas on their property that. For such an old house in the middle of nowhere, that was a bit of a surprise. Now we know to not do anything goofy when on the porch XD
It was so hot that our hand sanitizer bottle melted. Oops

Jessica and Carrie:

Saturday was HOT and proved to be a test of our endurance. All of our afternoon plans fell through, and we ended up doing a good deal of tracting. We decided to walk around a certain circle, and met a few really neat people, but mostly closed doors. Just as the heat was getting almost unbearable, we knocked into a sweet mother and her daughter. We asked how she was. As we did so, the heat wave from outside hit her. She answered, "Hot. Do you want to come inside?" Those are the sweetest words you will ever hear as a missionary. Especially in Georgia summers. Our discussion started out pretty typical, and she seemed a little bit skeptical at first. We soon realized, however, that she was sincere regarding her questions. In fact, she started asking us all sorts of questions about service and said she wanted to come! What a miracle! We are meeting with her this week and are praying for her every day. Carrie is her super cute daughter.

**love y'all so much. Sorry if this week seemed really informational and formal. 
Love y'all!!
Sister Brown 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Get out of Facebook and into My book--God

This week was Exodous for my family back at home. My Mom commented on how amazing it was to see the youth coming together spiritually, receiving amazing, converting experiences from God, and getting away from the constant pull from the media. So...I felt this subject line was fitting. 

This week we have been given extra strength. We have been blessed to see tender mercies as we push on even when our energy runs low. It only gets hotter here.. and it's not even August. I don't mind the heat, but it has a tendency to make us more tired than usual. I've heard, however, that it seems many of you back home are also going through a bit of a heat wave. So my advice for you is to drink water!! And be diligent so the Lord can bless you :D 

After one particularly hot afternoon, we had to change our plans around a bit and decided to look up some potential investigators who had been contacted by other missionaries in the past. Well, as we were driving to one of the houses, another house in the corner of my eye caught my attention. I had shrugged off a similar thought earlier that day, but realized after that it could have most definitely been a whisper from the Holy Ghost. I was so disappointed with myself for letting that house slip by that I was not letting this one go! I quickly (safely) turned into the side street we were about to pass. What followed was not a crazy miracle, but it was, without doubt, a tender mercy. We had an edifying conversation with a man who was a lifelong alcoholic but has been alcohol free for a year. We aren't sure if he will show particular interest in the church, but we visited with him about the restoration among other things, and he invited us to come back later. 

Yet another tender mercy--Wednesday we were trying to visit with this family that we've been having a really rough time getting to teach all together. We have been able to meet with the mom a few times, but we've really been wanting to teach her and her sons. Well, we went over to their trailer and talked to her boyfriend and sons. He said she was not home but would be on her way soon. He told us to come back in about an hour or so. We were quite disappointed because our schedule wouldn't allow us to go back through that area that day. Well, we were walking away when all of a sudden her boys and her boyfriend frantically run out of the trailer. "Wait!" They yelled "She's at the mailboxes, she'll be here in just a few minutes." First of all, it was the sweetest thing in the world just how excited they were to tell us we could actually come back. Secondly, her boys stayed to listen to the whole lesson that afternoon!! Amazing :D We were so happy we could tell them about the plan of salvation which holds a great deal of importance for them seeing they would be attending a funeral of a friend just a few days later. 

Love these storms
Saturday/Sunday's miracle-- We had one of our less active members we have been working with come to church. She surprised us by texting us the day before asking what time church was. We let her know it was at 11 and that we would love to sit with her. She happily responded that, yes, she will be there. WOW! We were so excited. Getting people to church has been a real difficulty for us as of late. We were overjoyed to have her come, participate in taking the sacrament, and enjoy the renewing strength only the atonement of Jesus Christ can provide for us. Not only that, but she was going to leave right after the first hour. Her little girl made immediate friends with another 3 year old in the ward and actually was really excited to go to primary. Because someone reached out to her daughter (only 3) she, herself, was able to receive additional strength from the last 2 hours. 

Funny moment from the week: We had an object lesson with one of our favorite families (I do try to not pick favorites). But we had a lesson on repentance and the sacrament...well we used water, food coloring, and bleach. At the end of the cleansing from the bleach (representing the savior's atonement) one of the boys says, "Can I drink it?" Sister Anderson and I both quickly and urgently said, "NO!" He may have been a bit shocked...ha but we had a good laugh after. 

Sister Brown

Monday, July 11, 2016

"Give to God what is right, not what is Left"

To start off, we met the new mission President this week! He is so very different than President Cottle, but we love him so much already! President Grayson is very quiet and soft spoken. Sister Grayson is very similar to the Cottles. In fact, she was also an institute and seminary teacher. I am so grateful for their determination to serve the Lord with all their heart, might, mind and strength. We will have interviews with them next week.

I chopped my hair off!! We accidentally
took off a bit much...about 7 inches.
But on the bright side, my hair is
significantly more healthy now. (This was
also taken while we were driving to
meet our new mission president!)
After a long Saturday of almost every single appointment falling through, Sister Anderson and I were ready for some awesome appointments that evening. We drove to this couple's home who we've talked to a few times on the doorstep, but we hadn't made it into their home yet. They are VERY different than the typical southern family. She's a 'tough' girl, and they're pretty into worldly things. We, however, really felt like they had potential and, of course, the gospel could really help them out. While we were praying before we got out of the car, we prayed to know if we should continue trying to teach them or to move on. The first thing he says when the husband opened the door is, "Come on in." We were then able to have a wonderful discussion where we got to know them a bit better and we related the restoration to their personal lives. They opened up to us a lot, and they ended up committing to read the Restoration pamphlet as well as the introduction to the Book of Mormon. We are so excited for them and how this gospel will make a world of difference in their lives. It was truly a miracle. 

A few funny moments from the evening: 1- When we asked them if they had read the pamphlet, they both got the most guilty look on their faces. It was absolutely priceless. We loved the fact that they took it so seriously! Usually people treat that commitment like it's nothing.."Oh, I didn't have time." But you could see they felt truly bad for not doing what they said they would. 2-The husband (after a few really good questions related to the lesson) says, "Ok, so I have had a question that has caused some real conflict between my mother-in-law and me." Here it comes we thought. "So, where do Dinosaurs come in? I mean...they just don't quite fit with the 7 day creation, but I know they existed." Ha we had to try really hard to not bust up laughing.

I gave a talk this week on the sacrament. Here's a little taster:

Alma 5 : 21 I say unto you, ye will know at that day that ye cannot be saved; for there can no man be saved except his garments are washed white; yea, his garments must be purified until they are cleansed from all stain, through the blood of him of whom it has been spoken by our fathers, who should come to redeem his people from their sins.
 22 And now I ask of you, my brethren, how will any of you feel, if ye shall stand before the bar of God, having your garments stained with blood and all manner of filthiness? Behold, what will these things testify against you?

How are stains created? Well, it's by a mess which remains unattended to. Just as you would quickly remove a shirt from small child who has spilled on him or herself in order to get the shirt in water as soon as possible to work the mess out of the material, our spiritual "messes" must be cleaned the same way. In order to not have stains upon our spirit, we MUST partake of the sacrament each week. When we remember the body of Christ represented by the bread, we remember the gift of our own bodily resurrection and the reality that this death is not the last. The water, however, reminds us of the blood of Jesus Christ and the healing, strengthening power of the atonement. As we allow ourselves to be cleansed through His blood, we quickly rid our clothes of the mistakes we make each day. I know the sacrament is absolutely crucial to our spiritual development. Please prepare carefully each week through repentance before taking the sacrament in order to have a more personal experience with the Savior's atonement.

A couple funny banana things from the week:
We found Rapunzel's tower in Tifton.
1- We learned one of our less actives makes banana wine every once in a while. We promptly taught the Word of Wisdom that afternoon.
2-We also learned banana mayo sandwiches are a southern thing...gross.

Love Y'all!!
~S. Brown

Monday, July 4, 2016

"Happy Birthday America"

Disclaimer: The subject line was NOT from a Church marquee...but it was from some other business marquee, and I felt it appropriate for the situation. ;)

Coon Daddy! Apparently Tommie's cat resembles a he calls him Coon daddy. HA XD and yes...
I use lots of itch creme here. There's just no way to 
not run into animals in Georgia. :)

This week we have had so many amazing moments where we have felt the spirit come more fully into the work and into our companionship. Starting with Monday, we had a lesson that evening with a part member family. We are focusing on teaching the wife right now. Her name is Lisa. As we neared the end of our lesson, I was speaking about Joseph Smith. I delivered the same words I have done so many times over about how he sincerely wanted to receive an answer from God, knelt down, and delivered up all the feelings of his heart... I then felt an additional witness other than my own added to my words. The spirit touched my heart. It wasn't overwhelming, but it was beautifully noticeable. I have had those moments before, but what stands out to me this week is how we can have that same witness and "moment" during every lesson. At the end, Lisa became emotional and asked us a few questions. She's very nervous about everything she's learning, but at the same time, you can see the spirit working within her. She wants to know more, and our loving Father in Heaven is guiding her to it through His messenger: Holy Ghost. Living even more worthy of Holy Ghost is changing my mission completely. When we focus on sanctifying even the littlest things, repenting of the most minor offenses, that's when we feel the last bit of spiritual power added upon our efforts. 

A few small miracles we have seen is how much more often people stop us to talk to us first. Or they ask us first if we can come back and talk to them. When you have the Holy Ghost with you, others will see and recognize that influence. I still have so far to go, but what I have seen so far has been amazing. 
This sneaky little guy was sitting right 
there when I opened the door this 
morning. Long story short, he sneaked 
into the apartment and Sister Anderson 
chased him around our study room for
a good while. 

For example, we were walking back from an appointment one afternoon and crossed through a parking lot. An older man stopped us and asked where we were from. From there we started talking with him and eventually led to our purpose as missionaries and the message we share. He kept telling us over and over what wonderful people we were (it wasn't us, but rather the spirit touching his heart). We got his information and now plan to all go to lunch so we can talk this week. He then called us the next day relaying yet again how glad he was to meet us and confirming that we still would all go eat together. Amazing! 
Just a couple of days later, we had a relief society activity at the church. A lady named Belinda, who isn't a member, was asked to give a demonstration about how to be more organized. We went to the activity, listened, and chatted with her after. Everyone told her what a good job she did and thanked her so much for coming. When we thanked her for what she spoke on, it really touched her..visibly. She kept saying how sweet and kind we were. Yet again, it wasn't us at all. It's amazing to see what the Lord is doing for his children. She felt His love through our simple message of gratitude. She later said that if we ever wanted to chat she would absolutely love to visit with us. Wow. For so many "Southern baptists" to be the first to ask if we will talk with is truly amazing. 

I feel so grateful and lucky to be a part of such an incredible process. I am, by no means, "worthy" of these miracles at all. I pray every day that I can be focused and pure enough to do what the Lord has prepared for this area. I love these people. I want, with all my heart, to see them partake in the blessings God is waiting to give them. 

Last night, we had a lesson with another part member family (i've talked about them before). The mother and her 2 boys are learning about and preparing for baptism. They haven't set a baptismal date yet, however, because the father has a hard time helping everyone get to church. (This week we saw his heart soften SO much. Miracles!! He is now reading the Book of Mormon and we are pretty sure they will be at church this week! Answers to prayers :') ) Anyways... the mom, Larissa, has had lots of challenges with her family recently. Most recently, her grandmother has been diagnosed with Leukemia. The boys and Larissa are really close to her grandma. In fact, she watches the boys every day while the mom goes to work. Well, we hadn't been able to meet with them for a while. Finally, we were able to go over last night and teach them about eternal families. We weren't sure how the lesson was going to go because our lesson plan was all over the place...but we read many scriptures, used modern revelation, and basically taught and testified with love. Well, near the end of the lesson, the oldest son (who we met for the first time that evening because his mom is this man's first wife and doesn't always get to stay with his dad) interrupted our lesson and almost frantically asked, "Can I be baptized?" His family never was active, and he never had the chance to be baptized. Because of the spirit pressing upon his heart, he felt an urgency and incredibly strong desire to enter into such a beautiful covenant with God. AMAZING! Sister Anderson and I just smiled real big and said, "You most definitely can. We would love to teach you more to get you ready for step like that." He was so happy!

Happy independence day from us!!
Just writing about everything we have experienced this week makes me ever grateful for this gospel. My heart rejoices each and every day! For lack of better words...this is amazing!! As members of the true and living church of Jesus Christ on earth, we are the luckiest people on alive. Let's share that with our loved ones! 
Love you all! 
As everyone here in the south says, "Be safe!"
-Sister Brown

PS a couple of smiles:
*while teaching an older lady this week she asked us, "So you haven't been to the dark side yet?" haha we answered no ma'am, not really..we've been pretty blessed. 
*We got to celebrate 2 older ladies birthdays and they both loved the cards and flowers. So many sweet ladies here.