Monday, October 31, 2016

Math Lesson: 3 Nails + 1 Cross = 4given

The atonement of Jesus Christ is real. It is for me and it is for YOU. We have been forgiven! Know that it is the only thing that will bring lasting peace and joy in this life. As a missionary, you feel the best when you throw yourself 100% into the work. The same is true for us every day. When we completely turn our life over to the Lord, He will guide us in ways unimaginable to our limited perspective. Trust in Him. When we feel inadequate, that is because we are. How glorious! You don't have to rely on yourself....we can simply rely on Him.

Cotton time again! This is the most white
we will see this winter ;)
This week I was able to witness on of the most beautiful baptisms I have seen. The Tull couple are both so humble and prepared for the gospel. These spectacular individuals live in the 2nd ward. We did not teach them, but we have had a small amount of contact with them. It was humbling to see their sincere excitement for their baptism. Many people were gone for hurricane clean up again this weekend. When the Elders told the Tulls that we could move the baptism to next week so they could have more ward support, they replied, "Elders, we just really want to be baptized." So they were. After Brother Tull came up out of the water, he stood in silence for a moment with his hands together. "Outstanding," was all he said. After Sister Tull emerged from the same water in that little font, she took a few extra moments to wipe her eyes. It was clear she was wiping away more than just tap water.

This week was a challenging one as far as the work goes. Sister Boyer and I are turning over a majority of our teaching pool. We are putting forth our best effort to work with the members to find those who are prepared for the gospel. While it can be more complicated and fact, I sometimes feel like I'm running a three ring circus in order to get everything lined up for high quality lessons...we know this will be better for the work in the long run. Member work is so critical! Please, please be involved. That's all I want for Christmas. ;)

One really great fellow-shipping activity we held was the annual trunk-or-treat. What fun! That was a fantastic experience. Not to mention there were SO many family members and friends there whom are not members. We had a great time talking to people and planting seeds of faith. Or candy. Our trunk was "Fishers of Men." We used a blue tarp for the water and had some pictures of Jesus upon the water. We made one of the Elders sit in the trunk and put candy on the line so we could mingle with the people. What a good sport.

Reggie and I had to take a goat selfie.
We went to one of the state parks today for pday. :)
Lastly, the primary program was INCREDIBLE. I have never in my time here seen more less active and part member families attend church. That was amazing! I had to make a list of everyone we needed to catch before they slipped out unnoticed. As soon as the closing prayer finished, I felt like a torpedo running from person to person. Poor sister Boyer said, "I couldn't keep up. You would call my name and then you were gone." In reality, she did a fantastic job. :) Truly, she's a wonderful teacher and asks the most inspired questions. She even taught the gospel principles class all by herself.

A neat miracle for the week:
We were sitting in Etirza's apartment teaching a lesson. She told us all her frustration with her boyfriend and how he has been really awful recently. He has let greed control his life and isn't using the money he has to help his dying family members. As she exclaimed her frustration through broken English (she has a stroke 3 years ago and has a very difficult time talking), she acted out how she fell to her knees and offered up the most sincere worries in her heart. She then said she felt a calm feeling come over her, and she knew God would take care of the situation. She said she knew her boyfriend would lose everything and therefore learn his lesson. Sister Boyer taught about patience. As she was teaching, we hear a loud honk outside the door. It was none other than her boyfriend's boss. Her boyfriend is losing his job. God heard her prayer, and this was His answer. It was jaw-dropping timing.

I love y'all so much! Never be afraid to do a good deed!
Have a blessed week! <3

-Sister Brown

Monday, October 24, 2016

Count Your Blessings, Not Your Problems

What the week!

Sister Boyer is wonderful! She's so sweet, bubbly, and ready to teach! It was hard to say goodbye to Sister Anderson, but she's ready to tackle Dublin with Sister Cottle. She's in good hands!

Tuesday started off with a cozy car ride-no room to spare-up and back from Macon to receive our new companions. As soon as we got home, Sister Boyer and I sat down as I introduced her to the area. We did a little unpacking, picked up a few groceries, and went out to teach her first lesson in the field. We had a wonderful time testifying of the importance the gospel has made in our lives. I know this message is meant for every single child of God. That evening we saw the hearts of a part member family "pricked" as described in the book of Acts. We were teaching the Plan of Salvation. This wonderful family has come such a long ways. When sister Anderson and I first met the wife, she wanted nothing to do with us and told us there wasn't much use in us coming back. Tuesday night, Sister Boyer and I were able to invite her children to be baptized and enter onto the path which leads back to our loving Father in Heaven. She readily agreed that was something of which she wanted to take part! We are excited for them and their deepening relationship with our Father in Heaven.

Georgia! :)
Surprisingly, lots of our appointments have been falling through this week. It's funny because that hasn't happened in a while, but maybe sister Boyer and I needed to have that experience together for growing purposes. The incredible thing is, among all the ruined plans, I never once felt discouraged. I was always happy. I knew that no matter what did or didn't work out, we would be teaching the restored gospel of a loving Heavenly Father to our siblings. There is nothing better! We got to meet some wonderful people, and set up many great return appointments.

A neat miracle we saw was a great lesson we were able to teach to the niece of one of the Elder's investigators. She is SO prepared and in need of the gospel. She has gone through a lot this week. To be honest, we haven't been able to help her out with it much at all. We have wanted to be right there by her, providing her with the things she needs...we did as much as we could, yet our resources failed us. Many nights I have gone to bed worrying about her and her situation. I have felt so disappointed in what I thought was a failure on my part to help. Yesterday, however, she texted us an incredibly sweet message, and told us she looked forward to meeting with us next week. Despite what I thought would have turned her away and made her unlikely to meet with us again, she still has a desire to come closer to God in ways we CAN help with. I was amazed that, despite everything, she still feels the spirit telling her she needs the gospel message we offer even if we weren't much help with the other needs she had in the time frame she needed.

Another neat note--Betty and Tierra are still preparing for baptism and will hopefully be baptized in November! :D They came to church this week! :) Tierra is so amazing. We leave her with the pamphlets and she takes notes on lined paper and everything! She had 2 FULL pages of notes on the Gospel of Jesus Christ pamphlet. Love her!

I love y'all so much. I know there is a part of what Jesus Christ has done for us that we can each relate with right now. Remember, Faith is fully relying on the Savior as well as diligent work. Testify often of what you know---even if you feel that knowledge may be wavering or limited. I promise it will bring the light of Christ into your life and bless those around you.

Have a Blessed week! Love y'all!

P.S. I just found out one of our former missionaries from this mission (Annie Schmidt) has been missing since last Sunday. She is an incredibly bright daughter of God who has changed the lives of so many. I, as well as many others, dearly love her. If y'all wouldn't mind saying a prayer for her and her family, I know they would greatly appreciate it.

Monday, October 17, 2016

In the Emergencies of Life, Jesus is Always on Call

The headline goes out to Abby. I love you girl, but don't give me a heart attack! No more ER visits!
Tamea (tamia..?) She's the CUTEST little girl I've
ever met! She sounds like a chipmunk and you can't
understand 90% of what she says. 

The big news of the week is Sister Anderson is leaving me. :( The running joke among the missionaries in Douglas is that if we had stayed together for one more transfer, we would have become the same person. I love this girl!! The good news though, I am getting another NEW MISSIONARY! To be honest, I wasn't planning on training yet again because President Grayson has been mostly calling younger, newer missionaries to train. However, Thursday evening we received a call from the APs informing me that President has asked me to train. I am so excited! I feel so grateful for this opportunity. There is nothing else I would rather do. The funny thing is, I will be in Douglas for a good minute. Most likely until the end of my mission. It's a good thing I love this place. :)

We made some brownies to give to people living
around our apartment complex. Sister Anderson
got mad at me for leaving a solitary brownie bite
still in the pan. If I don't want to eat it, I wont. ;)

Tuesday we had a neat experience. Everything was falling through. I was having a hard time listening to/following the spirit, and started to get frustrated. On our way back from a lesson, I noticed a trailer park I had thought to stop at during our drive out, but hadn't. Well, I wasn't going to let the opportunity go by again. We tracted a few doors without success. We had passed a man sitting in a lawn chair on our way into the trailer park. During my prayer before we left the car, I had prayed that we would be able to at least meet this man and leave a good impression. When we did walk over to meet him, we had a wonderful conversation about the church he goes to, particular bible trivia, etc. His wife was out in the yard busy at work. We could tell she didn't want to talk with us because she didn't slow down one bit, and didn't return our friendly wave. Well, near the end of our short visit, she walked over and introduced herself. She was pleasant, but strongly stated they were baptist and didn't need any of our materials of which I was currently reading from. We asked about their friends and neighbors. We asked who needed our message. As the conversation progressed, we learned the wife had lost a dear friend. We were able to testify of the Plan of Salvation, and she was able to feel the spirit. She explained to us that she originally didn't want to come talk to us because she 'knew what we were doing.' She, however, felt bad about not coming over. She said a prayer in which she said, "Lord, if you want me to talk to them...I will." She then tried to get the weed wacker to start. Nothing. She tried again. Not a sound. For a third time, she attempted to continue her yard work. Nope. She recognized her answer. A seed of faith has been planted. 

I have started being more bold. During one of my nightly prayers this week, I realized if I am going to fully give myself to the Lord and this work, I can't be afraid of hurting people's feelings. Of course, I still am teaching with love and being bold in a loving manner. After one particular lesson focused on faith and repentance-which was clearly and boldly taught. I invited the mother and daughter to be baptized on a specific day (they accepted). Sister Anderson turned to me in the car and said, "Well, I'm liking the boldness sister Brown." That is when I recognized the difference being bold made. We are seeing miracles by boldly teaching as Christ does. 

Joan and Tim! Funniest couple (well..almost couple).
We read with her every week. 

Friday we saw miracles again! We weren't going to have our car that day, but we had 2 set lessons that were roughly 10 or so miles away from us. The member who was originally going to come with us cancelled. We called member after member to see if anyone could go out with us. So far, nothing. We were at the S names when we saw a member we hadn't thought of. We didn't know her too well, but we thought we might as well give it a shot. She said yes, and she was the exact person that needed to be at those lessons. Her testimony of being a convert helped a particular lady who knows she needs to be baptized but can't seem to find the faith to act. The member was able to make living the gospel seem attainable and desirable. It is a blessing..manna from heaven...when we're able to work with members. 

Love you'all! Be loving, be bold, and have a BLESSED week
Sister Brown

Monday, October 10, 2016

A Person Without Prayer is like a Tree Without Roots

What you've all been waiting for... the Davis Family!
Thank you all for your prayers during hurricane Matthew. We were blessed and fortunate to not be directly hit. There was a significant amount of rain and wind here, but nothing that stopped missionary work from happening. Sister Anderson and I were praying with everything inside of us that the hurricane wouldn't stop the Davis' baptism from happening yet again. Remarkably, we left the apartment Saturday morning with no rain or wind. There were even a few sunbeams breaking through the clouds--a perfect day for a baptism! 

Real quick on the hurricane:

Last p-day we went to the junk yard owned by a member
and smashed some cars. Talk about a good workout!
We received MANY people into Douglas this past week. Most of them were from the Brunswick area..others were from Florida. There were a couple of shelters set up, and all the campgrounds and hotels were absolutely full. We spent some time doing service for those staying here this past weekend. It's hard to see these people not know when they will be able to go home or what they will be going home to. Thankfully, the atonement of Jesus Christ can strengthen us to overcome any trial or challenge and find the lasting peace we all so desperately need. 

The Zone leaders here in Douglas were also able to provide housing for some of the missionaries serving in Savannah since none of the missionaries in that area of the mission were allowed to stay. Many of them went to areas near/around the Macon area. Some of them were sent as far South as Douglas though. 

This week we had some wonderful lessons! One of the highlights was from last night. We went over to try and see Jennifer (a super golden lady who is running from the gospel because she's scared of change but she KNOWS she needs to be baptized and needs to make changes now! She will soon..anyways). We got to talk to her for a few minutes. She and her daughter BOTH had been reading the plan of salvation pamphlets we left with them. The second miracle, however, was that she was 'too busy' to really talk with she told us to visit her husband's brother who just returned from jail. She said he was really awesome, and we would love talking with him. I have to admit, I was a little nervous at first because it was late at night and we'd heard from his parents multiple times that he was the trouble maker of the family. We went anyways, and can I just say...that was an amazing lesson! Wow, his girlfriend(who we didn't know was living there at the time) is SUPER ready and open minded about the gospel. He actually gained a great testimony while in jail because he didn't have too much to do, so figured he might as well read the Book of Mormon (He's a member). He is currently on Alma 43. Alma 43! They said we would be welcome back any time. We set an appointment for Tuesday, and they even said they would cook dinner. It was such an incredible experience. 

A funny story from Thursday:
We went to a part member's home who we haven't been able to visit with much recently. They haven't been letting us in, but they did that night! We were able to have a great lesson on the Restoration. We used more bible stories and scriptures which allowed them to open up to us and actually listen to the message of the restoration rather than just blowing it off as they have with missionaries in the past. We all (at least we're praying they did, and they seemed to) felt the spirit, and they committed to read from the restoration pamphlet. The funny part though--We were sitting there talking and a bug flies into the face of the wife. She has had lots of health concerns, along with her husband, and she's probably late 60s or so. Well, she yells out, "What's that?" Swatting it away from her face. Her husband, answering in a very matter of fact tone, "It's a  bug." Ha that alone was enough to crack us up. The wife then proceeded, however, to wad up a news paper and chase after the bug. She then stood on the very old, unstable couch trying to smash the little bugger. Her husband was saying the whole time, "Woah, careful there honey." We also were seriously concerned for her safety and followed her around telling her to let us smash it. She, however, would not give up. Luckily, we didn't have to catch a falling woman from off the couch seeing how she was able to keep her balance for long enough. Hopefully that made y'all's day. It made mine. :D 

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

Monday, October 3, 2016

Joy is Not the Absence of Difficulties, but the Presence of God

WWII museum that was closed... but we drove by it
anyways :)
Monday we had a powerful evening full of testifying as Sister Anderson and I rededicated ourselves to sharing absolutely everything and anything that the Holy Ghost whispered to us. It was amazing to feel the power that entered our lessons. It felt so good to open our mouths and be bold! I try every day to listen more carefully and act immediately. 

I have lots to say about General here it goes. First of all, on Thursday we knocked on the door of a sweet woman who is absolutely dedicated to the Lord. We visited for a while, and as we were wrapping things up, she mentioned that she had a dream about what she was supposed to read in the bible that morning. I asked her what book it was. She said Amos. I thought for a moment as Amos chapter 8 verses 11-12 came to mind on the apostasy.
I then said, "Actually, there's a verse from Amos in this pamphlet here (we had been talking about the restoration with her)." 
"What chapter," She asked.
Grits cup on the way to Macon
"Chapter eight," I responded happily. All of a sudden her eyes got wide and a grin broke across her face. 
"That's the exact chapter He told me to read!" Wow! How amazing is that? A great conversation ensued about the Apostasy. We are excited to go back and visit with her more. We told her about General Conference and invited her to listen to a living prophet. She gladly accepted and has actually already watched many sermons from the byu channel before. As she put it, "I love their pastor!"(speaking about the speakers from the byu channel.) How fantastic! 

Skip forward a few days to this morning. We were doing our shopping in Walmart and guess who we saw? The same lady! We stopped and went to visit with her. She missed watching it live...but guess what? She watched the whole women's session AND watched Thomas S Monson's talk. How wonderful!! It was a huge miracle, and the best way to start our P-day. :)

Something I loved about General conference was that it seemed to be a lot of the first three lessons we teach people who are learning about the church. Imagine the importance of knowing what God's plan for us is and how we can follow the path of that plan! As we increase our faith in Jesus Christ, repent more regularly, are baptized by priesthood authority of God, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and follow the promptings (which will lead us to making more covenants with God), we will more fully understand God's plan and purpose for us. 
Cotton time again!

One woman we have been teaching was able to come watch General Conference with us. She brought her daughter and grandchildren. It was amazing to see how visibly touched she was by the messages shared. Tears filled her eyes as an apostle of the Lord reminded us that we ARE sons and daughters of loving Heavenly parents. We can repent and we can be forgiven. 

The Davis family was also able to watch General Conference this weekend. The wife took everything in. She was asking us questions all about what callings the different speakers had if she didn't recognize the title. It was amazing! 

I love you all so much! Keep up that member missionary work. Our job is to spread JOY!! 

Have a blessed week,
Sister Brown