I'm feeling all of your and my collective surprise over here in Kingman AZ. Dad is the new stake president! I read the beginning of Mom's email and started to cry, how embarrassing. But as I processed it the Spirit witnessed to me that they chose the right person. You've got my 100% support, Dad. Sister Abernathy, another sister in my zone who is emailing next to me right now is a stake president's daughter and she just shared with me the blessings she's seen in her family because of her dad's service. It sounds like Elder Hamula has promised those same blessings and I know they'll be fulfilled.
Dad, I loved how you said "I tried everything I could to show the Lord and His servants that I was not the man they should choose." I laughed, but then I realized that that must be exactly why Heavenly Father knows He can trust you. He knows that you'll serve humbly if you're called but you'll rely on Him to give you the strength you need. You have gifts and abilities that this stake needs at this time. And I'm sure excited that you get to be the one to release me at the end of my mission. :) Hooray!
This past week has just been a whirlwind and I feel like I can hardly keep up. We are working so hard and seeing so many little miracles and tender mercies each day. My journal writing has gone to pot simply because we have zero time, and I feel so bad for my posterity because if I don't write down some of these experiences, they will be missing out. My emails may have to play double for my journal until I can figure out how to balance my time.
My new companion, Sis Fotheringhame, is NOT from England-- She's from Missour-ah :) She goes by Sister Hame (Ham) for short because no one can read the tiny print on her name tag at first glance. She is one of the funniest, most wonderful people I have ever met. I am on cloud nine being her companion! I've never laughed so hard or so often on my mission as I have this past week with her. We have the exact same kind of witty, silly, prone-to-exaggeration sense of humor. Even this morning, when we got up to go running at, I was laughing. I LOVE SISTER HAME. She's my girl.
We set some really high goals for the coming week and we're going to give it our all to reach them. It's such a blessing to have a companion who wants to work hard, be exactly obedient, love the people, and stretch herself. She makes me a better missionary and I can completely be myself around her. I feel so blessed!!
Oh, and on the first evening of the transfer, we saw a shooting star. If that doesn't tell you this is going to be a celestial 6 weeks, I don't know what would! :)
I can't remember all the things I wanted to talk about from this week... Hmm... Oh! Our ward mission leader in Boulder Springs ward, Carson, was home from his mission on medical release but finally got cleared to go back. So he's on a plane back to Madagascar right now. That's a HUGE miracle for him! So we're really excited! Hopefully they call a new ward mission leader soon. We've finally started to find investigators in Boulder Springs ward. A ton of prepared people just popped up out of the woodwork this week. So many times Sister Hame will turn to each other and go... "Did that just happen?" Heavenly Father is truly answering our prayers. I will give you an update next week on which ones are progressing :)
I spoke in sacrament meeting in White Cliffs ward along with two moms of missionaries. I gave the moms each a hug and told them it was like hearing my own mom speak... They got a little teary :) I spoke on sharing the gift of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, and just shared stories and scriptures from my mission about the blessings I've seen from sharing the gifts we have-- focusing on the gift of the Book of Mormon, the gift of eternal families, and the gift of full access to the Atonement of Christ. I sat down and then thought of all the things I wished I'd said, but it must not have been important, because the Spirit would have prompted me to say them if they were. So hopefully it went ok and the members will go out and re-gift the Gospel this Christmas :) That was the goal!
Ignacio and Silvia have decided they're not super interested in changing right now. But we are going to keep trying to be friends and see if they change their minds in the future :) Carlos is still doing great and actually has a friend who we are hoping to start teaching this week. You were right Dad, he is a great source of referrals!
Mom/Dad, I have a question! Do you ever go out and teach with the missionaries?? I can promise it would make the missionaries' day if you went up to them and said "When can I come to a lesson with you?" The only thing that is more music to a missionary's ears is the phrase "I have some friends I want you to meet." Especially now with your new calling, you have an incredible amount of demands on your time, but if you can find some time, you would really bring a spirit and power to those lessons that the missionaries and investigators will benefit from hugely. :)
To answer your questions Mom: What do I want for Christmas? Hmm... Garments? Half of the bottoms have turned blueish... I think it's dye from my skirts or something... Too personal? :P The only other thing I can think of is gifts I can give to my investigators. Like CTR rings or something. Besides that, I don't have any requests. :) Thank you for sending that tree!! Our little apartment is just a little more festive now :) and I totally remember helping to make those ornaments to send to Jeren when he was a missionary. Ever since I decided to serve a mission I secretly hoped that I would have that tree and ornaments in my missionary apartment someday. So that was a delightful surprise :)
You also asked about the geometric sweater, that is actually mine :) Found it for $5 on a Pday! I've also picked up a couple new-to-me things in the past 6 months-- a watch that Sister Smith didn't want, a couple skirts that Sister Martin didn't want, and some old things that past sister missionaries have left behind in the Room of Requirement (aka empty spare bedroom) here in Kingman. So if I send pictures home and you think "I don't remember buying that..." that is the source of my new wardrobe :)
Funny story of the week: at 9:45 PM on Saturday night we found this gigantor nasty hairy spider crawling on the wall under Sister Hame's desk. No, we didn't take a picture. We're both wimps. :) So we called our member neighbor and he and his wife came and killed it for us. What an angel. We spent the next half hour spraying the whole place with Raid, and fell asleep to the smell of chemical. No spiders today!! ;)
Christmas is coming!! I'm so excited to talk to you!! We have a member's house to Skype at, but we're not sure what time. Are we in the same time zone? Arizona doesn't have daylight savings so I'm not sure if we're in line with mountain or pacific right now.. We were thinking aroundour time. But let me know what you'd like to do and we'll coordinate. :) Also, I have no idea how much time we're allowed. TBA on that one. :)
I have to tell you one more story, and I'll try to do it justice and put it into words, but I'm not sure that I adequately can. This experience really made a deeper-than-words impact on me. Here is my attempt to share it.
There is one section of town here in Kingman that has a lot, lot, lot of poverty in it. If you cross under the railroad tracks on the south side of the town, you'll find a group that lives very humbly-- small, old, run-down homes, trailer parks, little alleys and streets that don't even have names. Lots of stray cats and sad-looking residents. The other day, a man we talked to on the street said he wasn't interested but pointed us in the direction of his friend Leah. We drove over and discovered a little shack-like house next to a burned-down trailer home. We knocked on the front door of the house and there was no answer. We went back to our car and turned it on, but right before we drove away, Sister Hame said "Wait. I see smoke!" I couldn't see it, but she insisted there was a campfire going being the house, and I trusted her. So we got back out of the car and walked through the gate around the side of the burned-out trailer to the back "door" of her house. There was nothing to knock on... so we called "Hello? It's the missionaries!" And a woman came out.
We're not sure how old she is-- She's probably in her forties, but her life has aged her. She told us how her trailer home caught on fire a week before thanksgiving and they couldn't save anything. Looking at the mess the fire left was humbling... She's been trying to go through the rubble and salvage things but it's a job that would make anyone feel overwhelmed. We stood there talking to her about Heavenly Father and His plan for us and the Book of Mormon and just feeling completely overwhelmed. It was pretty cold, I had my hands in my pockets, and I idly thought "My toes are kind of going numb.." And I realized this woman was living with no electricity, no heat and no water and she was so grateful for what she did have. I felt a little nudge from the Spirit to give her my coat.. but I looked down at my mint-colored peacoat and selfishly thought, "Man... I like this coat..." At the same time my selfless, Christlike, wonderful companion took off her jacket and gave it to her. We left there and both cried as it hit us how blessed we've been in our lives and how much need there is in this world. Heavenly Father was telling me very clearly through that experience, "Sister Browning, I sent you here to love my children. Now start doing it." We went back later that night with blankets from a member. There's only so much we can do for her temporally but we can bring her the inner peace and healing that comes from the gospel of Jesus Christ. I'm so grateful I met Leah. :)
Love you all thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii
iiiiiiiiiiiiiiis much :) Have a great week-before-Christmas!
Love, Sister Browning