Monday, August 29, 2016

"SOMEDAY" is Not a Day of the Week

Subject Title: I recently read a talk all on righteousness and procrastination. Procrastination is the opposite of righteousness. If you want to do something good, do it today! When I saw this sign this week, I fell in love with it!

Sister Anderson's cat hammock. :D
A little update on the Davis family: They are doing well and came to church today. The boys are still begging to be baptized. We are just waiting on the mom to feel ready and for them to continue coming to church regularly (which they did this week!). One of our lessons this week was on Tithing. While we were in the lesson, the husband(who is usually more quiet) opened up A LOT. He started answering questions they all had and even used his phone to look up an article in the ensign that related to one of his wife's concerns. Near the beginning/middle of the lesson Sister Anderson had the thought enter into her mind, "Tell them that tithing builds temples." (we were discussing what happened later). So she did. What an amazing conversation that followed! We were able to discuss some wonderful questions she (the wife) had and her husband was able to testify that if they were to continue upon this path of discipleship, they could one day become an eternal family. They could be sealed to each other for eternity in the temple. How amazing! Always follow the impressions given from the Holy Ghost. 

This week we have had lots of trying experiences trying to help people with financial needs. We meet countless people every week who do not have the resources they need to get on their feet and build the foundation they need to get out of poverty. Well, this week we had seen a lot and had lots of people asking for help. We were just coming from a pretty depressing meeting Saturday morning when we were walking through town and weren't feeling ready to tract the area we were planning to go to. At that moment, God sent a little miracle our way when a super sweet lady we had tracted into earlier that week honked and waved at us as she drove past. It lifted our spirits and we were then able to have a wonderful lesson in that area. God is mindful of our every need! 

Another tender mercy: While we were out tracting in a close by town in Broxton, we met a sweet older lady who invited us right in. We had a good lesson with her. Halfway through the lesson, a huge rainstorm hit (it was sunny with no clouds when we had left). We went to leave and as soon as she realized we didn't have umbrellas or a car close by..she told us we could NOT leave. We tried waiting it out for a few minutes. Then, realizing she may end up keeping us captive there all day, she offered to drive us to our car! How sweet is that? She wouldn't take no for an answer(which we were quite grateful for). There really are good people out there who are truly Christian at heart.  

Yet again the Lord blessed our investigators by putting it in their hearts to come and attend church. That day was CRAZY for sister Anderson and I. We sat with one couple who is investigating, while arranging to find primary and young men classes for the other family, visiting with the less active members who showed up, and to then race off and teach the young women's class about missionary work they can do within their life right now. I felt a little like a chicken with its head cut off...but I wouldn't have it any other way! It was so amazing to see how well the ward fellowshipped those who were there for the first or second time. This work can't be done by just the full time missionaries. It is truly moved forward by the members!
Armadillos for days!

This quote seems to be really applicable in many of our lessons this I thought I would share it: 

“No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God … and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire and which will make us more like our Father and Mother in heaven. …” (Orson F. Whitney)

Love y'all! Have a blessed week. :) 
Sister Brown

Monday, August 22, 2016

"Too hot to change sign. Sin-bad. Jesus-Good. Details inside"

All I have for that sign is --> Perfect.

 We found a lady couple weeks ago. Her name is Etissa. She recently had a stroke and cannot communicate very easily. The right side of her body doesn't function well, and she can't seem to get the thoughts she has to form words and come out right. When we went up to her, she was so excited to see us. We came back for another visit a few days later. She showed us her bible, and expressed how much she loved the Lord and that she knew He would heal her in time. She loves to listen to what we have to tell her and she keeps her reading commitments. Well, we aren't sure how much she we aren't sure exactly what to do. We decided to help her continue coming to church because she really wanted to, but we aren't going to invite her to baptism yet.
Wishing those signs were switched.

We had a really amazing experience with her while we were teaching the restoration to her this Sunday. We explained the priesthood, prophets, the ministry of Jesus Christ, etc. We got the part about Joseph Smith's experience when he had the first vision. She kept smiling and nodding saying, "yes, yes." We turned the page, and she pointed to the picture of Joseph Smith receiving the Priesthood. She said, "Who's that?" We then explained that Peter, James, and John ordained Joseph Smith and gave him the priesthood authority. All of a sudden, she went, "Oh." And then a little more emphatically and energetically, "Oh, oh." She started patting her head, then her shoulders and heart. She had a huge smile on her face and kept saying, "I feel it, I feel it." The spirit entered the room so strongly. What a wonderful lesson. When our language fails, the spirit never does.

Sister Hale and I after exchanges.
Thursday we had the opportunity to go on exchanges with our sister training leaders in Hazlehurst. It was a wonderful experience. I'm not sure what it was, but being there and seeing the energy with which the work was being done gave me extra motivation. Ever since that day, I have had more excitement and "fire" in this work. A bit of a funny story from that night:It got to be 8:00 and a huge rainstorm hit. HUGE. All of our appointments fell through, so we were walking, driving, and slipping on incredibly sandy roads for an hour without any luck. At one point the lightning got really bad. The sky would light up to be brighter than the middle of the day and the air cracked with energy. Sister Hale (the sister I was in Hazlehurst with) and I kept laughing over how crazy of a circumstance we were in... not to mention we were a little nervous about our safety. The good news is, we were just fine and soaked through to the bone. Umbrellas don't do much good here in Georgia. :D I love the storms!

While on topic of the rain--Our ward was notified that we might be asked to go help the flood victims in Louisiana because of all the damage done recently. What a wonderful call. We have the opportunity to serve in various capacities within the church and our life. Let's make the most of them!

Got to ride a horse!
Sunday proved to be an absolute miracle! The part member family we have been working with for the last three transfers all came to church, AND they had their baby blessed. They will be back next week as well. Not only that, but we had 3 other investigators come to church who we just found this week while tracting (we had ward members give them all rides). Lastly, another part member couple came to church without us even knowing they were planning on it. We had 7 investigators at church. I almost passed out. It's incredibly hard to get people to follow through with commitments sometimes, but oh the joy we saw in their faces when they were sitting in sacrament meeting! There is a special spirit of peace you can't help but feel while sitting in the chapel. I thank Heavenly Father so, so much for putting it in their hearts to come this week. Miracles DO happen!!

Sorry for the scattered email. Most importantly, I would like to let y'all know that I know Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. I will be ever grateful for His, and our Heavenly parent's, sacrifice which allows us to return where our spirit yearns to be. We are sons and daughters of the divine. In a world that changes all around us, what is within us will stay the same. We are children of a loving and merciful God. He knows us personally. The purpose of this life is to become as HE and His Son are.

Share your testimony. It's too precious to keep hidden.
Sister Brown

Monday, August 15, 2016

"At first sin fascinates, then it assassinates"

Stake conference was this week. We drove down to Tifton both Saturday night and Sunday morning. We were edified and uplifted. Elder Sitati has quite the personality. He had a question and answer session Saturday night. He would spend 10 minutes on ONE question when he felt it necessary. How amazing! He wanted to do his best to uplift and encourage us in any way possible. It was wonderful to feel his love and the love from the 12 and the Presidency. The theme of Stake conference was "Accepting the Call." Are we ready to receive the call from the Lord? When we prepare, act upon spiritual promptings, and obediently endure to the end...we will see the miracle of the Lord qualifying whom He has called. 

This week we saw a miracle with a lady named Barbara. We had been trying to teach her daughter for quite some time but without too much success. This week, we were able to discuss with her mother the restoration. When we got to the part about Joseph Smith and the first vision, we asked her how she felt. She said, "I'm warm all over and tingly. It's like it just goes from my head to my feet." She then told us, "Yes, I  know it is true." She accepted the 'soft' baptismal commitment we then extended. We are so excited for her and keep her in our prayers.

Tender mercies and funny moments:

1-We were trying to contact this man. He was going inside with his dog. His dog (who must have been feeling the spirit ;) ) Got loose and came running towards us. Don't worry...the dog was nice. That way the man HAD to talk to us. Miracle! :D 

2-We had dinner with the Hills. An amazing couple! I love them and would adopt them in a heartbeat. 

3-We drove significantly farther than expected to try contacting a less active member. When we saw the "Welcome to Erwin County" sign we knew we had gone much too far seeing as how we were then out of our area. oops :/ We promptly turned around :D

4-One of our less active member's son was able to receive a blessing of healing after a heart surgery. The experience was a tender one in which their faith was strengthened and we were able to teach her grandchildren the importance of the priesthood power and how it has been restored on the earth TODAY!

5-After a really hard visit with a less active lady (she's going through a lot and we're not sure how to help her), her spirits were lifted and we ended on an uplifting note. As we were leaving, we (as is often here) got on the topic of how scary the world is and how dangerous it is here. She then said, "you know what, I can get you some Mace!" Apparently she knows people. It was such a funny outburst, it made us laugh. We told her that was sweet of her...who knows, maybe we'll actually end up with some :D

6-While having a lesson and reading 2 Nephi 31 with an investigator, an outrageous thunderstorm showed up and knocked all the lights and ac out (8:45 at night). We continued trying to read, but then our investigator (she can go from topic a to z in a matter of 2 seconds) started talking about her belief in paranormals. Ha. So we were basically listening to ghost stories in the dark by candle light sitting in a trailer out in the country/boonies. We quickly shifted the topic to Joshua 1:9 "Be of good courage, be not afraid...for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest." Scripture power!

Lastly---> We just had our second interview with President Grayson. Such a wonderful couple. Here is a picture of us with Sister Grayson. Love you all!!
Be safe and spread the gospel!
-Sister Brown  

Monday, August 8, 2016

Good luck with your Pokemon hunting-Be safe

Subject line: We've been hearing a lot about this Pokemon game. It sounds a like a less than valuable way to spend time...but I won't judge anyone who plays it. :D It was funny, however, to see it made such an impact as to be on a marquee sign. I believe this one was outside the Red Cross house rather than a church...but it was too funny to pass up.

I'll switch things up and start off with a funny story this week.
Last Monday during our grocery shopping at Walmart, a Georgia storm hit. When it gets to full on storming here, it's quite the experience. You walk outside for literally 3 seconds and you will be soaked from head to foot. So, while we were shopping, ginormous cracks of thunder made the building vibrate and drowned out the music. People were waiting all around the front of the store for the rain to hopefully clear up enough so their groceries wouldn't go bad. All of a sudden, a huge strike of lightning lit up the already bright entry way, followed by a crack of thunder, and the entire super-center lost power. One of the cashiers started yelling at all the other cashiers to go to doors seeing as how their entire security system was now down. It was a little frantic at first, but then from right behind us we heard this lady (a Walmart worker). She was doing a little dance clapping her hands (we weren't sure if she was frightened or just amazed), and then said, "Oh snap, there is a God! There is a God!" It made us smile. A few people continued to try to check out with their lights on their phones. We were stuck in there for a little while until they finally started letting people leave if you had a receipt. I'm not sure how long it stayed dark, but it was quite the experience.

Baby Abner (from the Davis family)!! She will
be officially 3 weeks old tomorrow.
One of my favorite lessons this week would have to be our lesson with the Davis family on keeping the Sabbath day holy. We brought ice cream, good toppings, and gross (pickles, salad dressing, etc) toppings. The good toppings were wholesome things we could do on the Sabbath and the "gross" things were those activities which were good...but not good to do on the Sabbath. While we were making the first 'Sunday' for the youngest boy, we were asking him if he liked all these things. When we got to "Sporting events, shopping, video games, etc" he said yes, he liked onto the ice cream they went. The boys were so grossed out. It was hilarious! It truly drove the point home that the Sabbath is a special day. It is a day we give to God, thereby showing our true commitment and love for Him. They all got good Sundays at the end. :) 

Friday we were able to attend a funeral for a man in the 2nd ward (we serve in the 1st). Lots of his family, however, is in our ward. It was amazing to see the whole family in the chapel together. I was praying the whole time that they would feel the peace and power flowing through that meeting. Simply being in the chapel can remind us of our covenants and the purpose we go to church. I hope they will make their way back to activity in the church. Many of them I haven't seen come once in the 3 months I have been here. Seeing them all together was absolutely amazing. If there is someone you have missed seeing at church recently, show them you love them by inviting them to come sit with you. Being in the chapel together fills your soul with the incomparable feelings of the Holy spirit.

Saturday we had a wonderful service opportunity for an elderly couple. Saturdays aren't very productive for us (which is backwards from most places), so it was wonderful to feel that we were doing good, quality work. We cleaned up their yard (which was quite large) and relocated some lilies that had started growing wild in their grass. Sister Anderson and I both had to take our lunch hour to re-shower because this Georgia heat will really get to you :D It was amazing to know that the sweet wife could now look out her front window and have something beautiful to see rather than 3 foot tall weeds. It's the simple things in life we often take for granted.

Love y'all!
S. Brown

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

"Fear activates satan like faith activates God"

The mission in general is full of many "Highs" and "Lows." This week we experienced a few of those large differences within a matter of days. I don't typically talk about the "lows," but I will mention one this week because it provides a valuable lesson I felt like would be good to share. There must be opposition in all things, otherwise we wouldn't know joy from sorrow.

When It's so hot you use your skirt as oven mitts...
I mean driving mitts.
To get the less desirable experience out of the way...I'll start with that. To be brief, we called one of our less active members to check up on her. She told us her sister (whom we had visited twice in the hospital) had passed away the day before. We helped her with a few of the funeral arrangements (getting the bishop of her sister's ward notified to talk), and offered love and support. During the funeral, there was another member of the church speaking. While his intentions were good, the delivery of certain points of his talk were not given with love and deeply offended some of the immediately family members. Sitting through this part of the funeral was difficult for Sister Anderson and I because we dearly loved this family regardless of their struggles. To draw others to the church, all we do and say must be with love. When we put ourselves in their shoes, we will speak and act a touch differently. I love the speaker and was grateful for his efforts which were well intended. As missionaries, it made our job a little bit more difficult, seeing that some of the family members are now turned away from the church. The lesson derived is to put ourselves in the shoes of others and serve with love. :) I know I will try harder each day to do so.

No worries, Sister Anderson and I are still loving Douglas! Wednesday proved to hold a miracle lesson this week. We met a young woman named Erin. She was SO prepared for the gospel. When we talked to her about Joseph Smith's experience, she said, "Well, I don't understand..why would anyone be upset that he received revelation straight from God and Jesus Christ. Now we can see what They would teach us about the scriptures." Sister Anderson and I both replied, "Right? I don't know! :D " She had heard negative things about the church from others, but when the Holy Ghost touched her heart, she knew it was true. The Lord is in this work! He is preparing His children. I feel absolutely blessed to be a part of His mission.

This week we were praying from some service opportunities because we've not done much in the past. Well, we ended up with almost too many opportunities..if that's possible. We marked labels at the food bank (met a man who's friends with a family in the ward), decorated a school with the other teachers for the open house later that afternoon, helped make 1300 pork chop plates for our youth's fundraiser, and we are moving a family this afternoon! Whew.

An amazing quilt one of our
investigators made a while back.
Something neat from our PEC meeting this Sunday: We were talking about a young part member family [Jay and Mallory] we were working with (the father of the young husband [Jay] was in the room and we were discussing how to get them involved and help their [Jay and Mallory] progression). The father mentioned how it was really great that we were meeting with them because a number of years ago, the wife [Mallory] had gotten offended by the missionaries and lost all interest. Around this time, another one of the members of the council yelled, "OH! There was something I needed to tell you sisters. Jennifer ____. Don't stop seeing her!" We had previously gone over and met with this woman whose husband is a less active member. She has met with many missionaries in the past but never really progressed or showed interest. Well, we had a touching experience with her when she actually told us she knew she needed to be baptized and started crying. Since then, however, we hadn't been able to successfully set up a time for a lesson. We had gotten discouraged and given her a bit of a rest. This council member told us about his conversations with her and he said that she had felt something different that she never has when talking with missionaries before. He said, "Don't stop seeing her. Make sure to visit her." The Lord has been working on her for years, and this sweet friend could see that she was finally prepared to let this message into her life. We will definitely do all we can to be there for her to provide guidance.

I know this work is miraculous. I know the Lord leads His army. I know we are children of a LOVING Heavenly Father. I know there is nothing, even the bad days :), that will stop this work from moving forward. The restoration is here. It is here, and it is here now. Take part in it!

Love y'all! Thank you for being incredible examples to me.
-Sister Brown