Monday, September 26, 2016

The World Needs a Change, but Jesus is Still the Same

To start off, wasn't the women's session of general conference great? I absolutely loved receiving such specific, clear, direct, and loving counsel from those called. We live in trying times, and the only thing that provides visible guidance is that from our loving Heavenly Father. Let's treasure those words we have already heard and will hear more of this weekend. Please prepare to watch general conference! 

This week we have seen many people in difficult and sad places in their life. From old drinking addictions coming back, to thoughts of suicide, we are all faced with some trial. Our investigators most certainly deal with these same challenges. What helps us in such times of need? First of all, the gospel of Jesus Christ! What seems like such a simple and automatic answer is actually applicable to our life right now and can and does provide answers. Search on for anything you are specifically having a difficult time with. Find strength from the atonement of Jesus Christ. What He has done for YOU cannot be comprehended by our limited intellect and perspective. While our understanding is limited, God's is limitless. Just as we have the need for earthly parents, we have the need for heavenly ones. Turn to your Father in heaven for direction. 

Sister Anderson turned to me last night and
said, "Can I play William tell with your bun?"
Seeing how we didn't have an apple,
I suppose my hair was sufficient for her
Nerf gun. I suppose this is when you know
you're close with your companion. Not to
mention we accidentally almost wore the exact
same outfit today. Enjoy the little things
in life! And take time to be a bit goofy :)
As we have lovingly testified to those in need this week, we have seen the smallest glimmer of hope enter into their eyes. Some of them have reached out for professional help. Some have turned to the scriptures. Some have prayed for the first time. I know God will magnify our efforts. Strength will be added!

This week we saw a miracle as we were able to teach a woman for the first time who felt that she was losing her relationship with God. She said she used to close to Him and feel Him in her life, but now she seems to be slipping away from His presence. We told her the story of Joseph Smith. He was searching for direction and a closer relationship with God. Without the proper authority to direct Christ's church on earth, people wandered in spiritual darkness. She enthusiastically agreed and said that was exactly how she felt. Through the miracle of the restoration, the light of the gospel was once again established upon the earth at this time. She agreed to pray about what we had spoken of, and to know if Joseph Smith had been called as a prophet of God. People are hungry for the news of this miracle! 

While visiting with a part member family this week, we were blessed to hear their testimony of God's love for His children. The father explained how he used to see God as judgmental, punishing, and anything but loving. Quite distant, really. Upon quiet pondering, he relayed to us the realization that no matter what mistakes his(the non-member father's) sons made, he would always love them and forgive them. It dawned on him that this is how God feels about us, His children. Our Heavenly Father has perfect love. Imagine how much deeper his care if for us than our love for our children. As he was testifying of the things he knew to be true, his wife couldn't help but tear up at hearing the testimony of her husband. 

God knows and loves us! Never forget it. :) 

Sunday the Davis family was able to watch a baptism from someone in 2nd ward. They were so excited. Even with the font flooding over, it was a spiritually uplifting experience. Power can be felt as we humble ourselves and dedicate our life to the one who loves us most. 

Love Y'all! Have a Blessed week!
-Sister Brown

Monday, September 19, 2016

God Listens to Prayers--Not Advice

Hey Y'all!
We have had QUITE the week. 

As Bishop Morris said countless times in PEC meeting,
"I don't care what it takes, we're going to cook a
whole hog!" It takes SO much time and effort to
actually cook one of these beasts.
Visiting Teaching Workshop: Tuesday evening our ward had a visiting Teaching Workshop. We taught Larissa and the Davis boys about Priesthood and Auxiliaries last week, so this was the perfect opportunity for her to experience for herself what some of the responsibilities of the women in the church are. First off, it is amazing to see the family going to these types of activities additional to church. She did such an amazing job staying caught up with everything even if the idea of visiting teaching was a little intimidating at first. 

The Hills! These are pretty much our parents
away from home :)
Exchanges: Wednesday morning we drove to Hazlehurst to exchange with the sisters there. Sister Tollestrup came back to Douglas with me while sister Anderson stayed in Hazlehurst with sister Hale. We saw so many wonderful miracles while we were together, and I learned a great deal from sister Tollestrup. While walking to an appointment, we saw a lady spray painting a desk outside of her apartment. We walked over to her and started up a conversation. Within just a few minutes, she posed the question, "Y'all read the Book of Mormon, don't you?" Wow, that seemed a bit of a surprise that she already knew of the Book of Mormon. We then had a short lesson on what the Book of Mormon was. We invited her to read it for herself, and she replied, "I definitely will." She seems so genuine. I'm so excited for her to continue learning! 

We (sister Anderson) caught a turtle! Ack
That evening, we went to an appointment we had set with a lady we had met the week before while we were tracting. We had a really great initial contact with her. When we got there to actually teach the lesson, she opened the door and said, "I probably should have told you this the first time we met..I'm actually very baptist. I'll still talk to you if you want, but after we're finished speaking, I will still be baptist and will always be baptist." She was pretty defensive and that made us a little discouraged at first. As we stated our purpose (that we were there to add to the light and knowledge she already had..not to take away anything) on her doorstep, the spirit softened her heart. She let us in and we had a wonderful lesson in which she opened up to us a lot. 

Ward Luau: The Luau was a HUGE success. We had about 10 or so 'not-yet-members' (non-members) :) One of the families we worked with in the past but then fell off due to some pretty heavy trials actually came! It was a miracle! I don't think those children have ever been in the church building until that night. Ward activities are such a great opportunity for us to fellowship and reach out to those around us. 
Picking Peanuts!

The Davis family won't be baptized this weekend but will be next weekend due to some scheduling complications. We are so excited for them! Pictures to come soon :) 

Sunday Sister Anderson was really sick (she's been sick all week..these darn summer colds), but she was a trooper and still made it out to work. Because of her diligence, we saw an amazing miracle where the grandaughter of one of the less active ladies we have been visiting asked lots of questions about the restoration. Wonderful! 

Love Y'all! Have a blessed week!
-Sister Brown

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

A Calm Spirit Pours Water on the Hottest Fire

Our sweet investigator who is moving to
Florida this week :( It's hard to see people
go through such difficult trials! Sometimes
you feel like a social worker on the mission.
I just love these people though.
Subject line: Sister Anderson and I have had many experience here when we are faced with a "Fire." After one such experience with an upset gentleman, we both felt that we are called to do the Lord's work, not ours. We may want to find all the people who are ready to hear the gospel. He, however, has put us in the path of the fires that need some water quick in order to stop the forest fire from spreading. I have talked with many preachers, ministers, and pastors who have been told untrue things about our church. Often, the Lord simply wants us to soften their hearts and allow them to have at least one positive interaction with the church. Thus preventing a forest fire. Who knows what effect this work will bring. 

In explanation of the emails coming a day late, we had a special zone conference in Macon where we had the opportunity to hear from Elder Uceda (from Lemma Peru and Elder & Sister Meur (from Australia). We switched our P-day from Monday to Tuesday. :) The conference was amazing! We had to get up at 4:00 in order to make it there on time..but it was worth it. I can't imagine how much sleep these members of the 70 and the 12 must have to do without due to their busy schedules. One of my favorite points brought up in the conference was to "Talk less and do more" with our investigators. Elder Uceda was a funny guy. He spoke pretty directly. He told us, "Many of you are struggling to have progressing investigators. I am going to tell you what is stopping them from Your investigators are not progressing because you need to be better missionaries." That is most definitely true. It surprised me how direct he was, but it is much needed. I will do all in my power to become a better missionaries so I don't stop others in truly coming unto Christ. I believe as we apply the instruction we were given, we will see miracles begin to happen.

I made a bunch of cookies so we could say thank you to the
Bishop and some ward members...they turned out more like
a sweet biscuits. so..oops.
During our lesson on fasting with the Davis family we explained that when we fast, we don't eat for 2 meals in a row. The youngest boy really loves food. He's so cute! You can tell he loves food. :) With a dumbfounded expression, he exclaimed, "Why would anyone want to do that?!" Cutest thing ever! We then taught the blessings of fasting and principle of sacrifice. They all committed to live the law of the fast at the end of the lesson. Also, they (the boys at least) should be getting baptized on the 24th! How exciting :D As we left the house that evening, their youngest son called after us, "May the Holy Ghost be with you!" That's when you know your investigators are truly getting it! :) 

Another neat miracle this week was when we visited a less active lady (Brittney. young, single mom about 27) and her boyfriend. We didn't know he would be there. Previously we had introduced to him a little about the church and given him a copy of the Book of Mormon. We were never able to make a set appointment work after that, however. As we were visiting with Brittney, she told us her boyfriend has been really excited about religion lately. He has been studying all the time and asks her all sorts of questions. She is very knowledgeable about the bible. Some of the questions he was asking her were beyond her knowledge to a point that she didn't know how to respond. We visited with her about a few of them for a minute and she said, "Wait, stop. Let me just go get Patrick." We then had a short conversation with the both of them asking about Patrick's reading of the Book of Mormon. By the end of our conversation (which was cut short so we set up another time to come back) Patrick said, "The more I keep studying, the more I feel the Mormons are right." Wow! This never happens. He was finding truth without us even visiting. Everyone has their own path to obtaining light. We were so happy to see his personal efforts paying off.
We picked grapes at the Solomon's!

 Love y'all! Have a Blessed week :D
-Sister Brown

Monday, September 5, 2016

What could this sign say to get you here on Sunday?

Here's the big news on Transfers....Sister Anderson and I are staying together yet ANOTHER transfer. We're both so happy. By the end of this one it will be 6 months spent together--the first third of Sister Anderson's mission. Crazy. We're super excited about it though. In fact, our entire district stayed the same (besides one missionary who went home today. He's being replaced with a Greenie! :D). We're the eternal district.

A little flooding from the "Hurricane."
This is one of our investigator's driveway.
An update on the hurricane issue that I'm sure you've all heard so much about: It turned out to not really be as big of a deal as was expected. We received the emergency orders from President Grayson on Thursday that we would need to put together a 72 hour kit and get back to the apartment if the rain started to get bad. The funny thing is, sister Anderson and I didn't realize how serious it was supposed to we were out teaching during the beginnings of a hurricane. So I have officially tracted through tornadoes and taught through hurricanes. This gospel does not stop! :D We then obediently followed the orders and gathered our water, food, etc and didn't leave the apartment until 3:00 the next day. To be honest, it was just a lot of rain, some wind, and minor flooding in a few areas. We're grateful no one was hurt.

This week we had a wonderful opportunity to provide some last minute service to a sweet older lady who has been really sick. We cranked her car that hadn't been used all this year. I honestly didn't think we would be able to get it going again...but by the third try and lots of patience, it made it!

We also went to an AA meeting with one of our investigators. That was such a neat experience. We also were able to get in touch with a part member family who completely fell off the face of the earth a couple months back. They both looked SO much better. It was a wonderful testimony to me that people DO change.

Lots of our ward was gone this Sunday to help the relief efforts in Louisiana. Even with such a small congregation (the entire bishopric was gone as well), we had a powerful testimony meeting. I was so grateful to hear the testimony of some of the members we don't normally hear from. How inspiring!

Davis family:
We had a word of wisdom lesson this week. Whether because of the storm excitement and being let out of school a day early, or another reason, the boys were full of energy. Sister Anderson and I were shocked when they all expressed real concern with keeping the word of wisdom because they could no longer drink sweet tea. What amazed me, however, was how quick their mother (who is also not a member) jumped in and said, "Well it's not that hard, just choose to drink something else." She had total and complete faith in the commandment. She didn't even question the reason why. She just said, "Yes, of course we can do that." WOW! How amazing!

Found a baby lizard in our apartment.
Lastly, we visited a family Sunday night that we hadn't been able to get in touch with in a while. We were working on getting the wife reactivated (the rest of the family are not members). At the end of our discussion of one of Christ's parables, she sat in thought. "I have a question to ask you. My daughter has been asking about baptism a lot recently. What would she have to do to be baptized?" How amazing!! We should now be working with them as a family to work towards baptism. It was a tender mercy from the Lord. When people feel the spirit, then they act.

I love y'all! Have a blessed week.
-Sister Brown