missionary plaque picture

missionary plaque picture

Monday, December 29, 2014

Recovering from Post-Christmas Chocolate-Shock

Hey Family!!
Well we have had a crazy Pday-- the family history center was down so we spent the whole morning running around trying to find somewhere to email. We have finally found a place, but that means we're pretty pressed for time today. Rather than sending a big long email, I will send a big huge ton of pictures! :)
Well it was so wonderful being able to Skype with you on Christmas! Even if the screen was a little postage stamp. It was nice to see your faces and hear your voices. :) It doesn't even feel like it's been 6 months since we talked last! After we got off Skype we made a bunch of gingerbread cookies to take to investigators and less actives and spent the day delivering them and teaching where we could. :) We had an awesome impromptu lesson with a couple named Cathi and Mike-- Mike was having a hard day because his mom passed away two months ago. Christmas is always the hardest when you're missing someone. So we taught them about the plan of salvation and baptisms for the dead and they both cried. Pretty cool! They really want to come to church but each week they commit and say "this is the week" and then something gets in the way. Darn Satan.

Mom, thank you so much for taking the time to put together such nice packages and send them. I got all of the gifts you sent. You'll notice Carlos sporting his new CTR ring in one of his baptism picture :) Those were seriously the most useful gifts you could have sent. It was like you were really listening to the Spirit!! Those sweater tights are saving my life!
Sister Hame and I are really torn between eating all the chocolate we see and giving it all away. We hope you don't mind if we gave a lot of it to our investigators and others who need it more than we do... a LOT more than we do. :P People have sure been spoiling us out here!
In other news, part of my camera just broke off. Don't drop your camera, folks!  
Dad, great job on the earrings!! Those are beautiful! And I'm excited about those Italy pictures! I'm glad you got to do something fun for your anniversary. I wondered with all the craziness if you would be able to do something nice but it sounds like it was a great anniversary.
Carlos's baptism was absolutely wonderful. Lots of support from the ward, all the missionaries that taught him, and his family. It was perfectly timed, because his two older sons who live in New York were visiting for the holidays. He basically only sees them once a year. His mom, a niece, and a nephew, and his two little kids Emma and Santi also came. They all clapped after he was baptized... which was kind of adorable. They were just so excited for him. I won't lie, I was tempted to join in ;) Brother Walker, our spider-killing, toilet-paper-lending, awesome-advice-giving, fantastic-fellowshipping neighbor baptized him. He and Carlos both cried. :) We're all just really excited to see Carlos's future. He's not married right now but we don't think it'll take him long to find a wonderful wife, get sealed to his kids in the temple, and become the next bishop. He's just taken the first step of many on a path full of blessings and discipleship. He is awesome!! I can't believe he's a member now!

Have a wonderful week! Sorry this was so rushed. I love you all!
Ever onward--
Love, Sister Browning

Monday, December 22, 2014

All I Want for Christmas is My Voice Back

"All I want for Christmas is my voice back"
"All I want for Christmas is dessert at dinner... but no dessert at dinner" 
"All I want for Christmas is our new investigators to show up to their return appointment" 
"All I want for Christmas is 2,000 baptisms" 
"All I want for Christmas is permission to watch White Christmas" 
"All I want for Christmas is our upstairs neighbors to walk like ballerinas rather than elephants" 
"All I want for Christmas is for members to give us chocolate... but to stop giving us chocolate" 
"All I want for Christmas is to wear pants outside" 
"All I want for Christmas is to stop calling Kim and Terry Tim and Kerry"
"All I want for Christmas is a letter in the mail every.single.day" 
"All I want for Christmas is to be one of the cute sister missionaries... but not too cute" 
"All I want for Christmas is to not have to shave my legs" 
"All I want for Christmas is to not have a double chin when I Skype my family" 

--- It started with the first one and escalated from there. All the funniest ones are Sister Hame. She lives up to her name. Ba dum pshhhhh :) 

Ahh it's so close! Yay! First things first, I am so excited to Skype with you. I'm skying from the home of these super awesome members, the Chattertons-- they're a young couple, no kids, they both served missions so they're dynamite. We were thinking maybe noon would be good? How does that sound? We can make a 5 min phone call on Christmas Eve to set everything up. So be expecting a phone call sometime. Probably in the evening? Does that sound alright? 

What are your plans for Christmas?? Just gonna be home? Browning get-together in the evening? Are you having BETHLEHEM DINNER?? I hope so, cause I tell everyone who asks what my christmas traditions are about that one and the straw in the manger tradition. Those are my two favorites. :) 

Please tell Carly Holmes that I said congratulations on her graduation, that's awesome!! And so fun that you got to see the Holmes family! Those are people I love dearly. It's absolutely crazy to hear about all these Rigby kids going on missions... Rigby knows how to hasten the work! Way to go, Idaho. That makes me so happy! They're making such great decisions. Please tell them I said so. :) 

I'm super proud of Dad for wearing both the bishop hat and the stake president hat at the same time. One hat is heavy enough. I bet that was stressful and difficult but Dad is amazing and he can do anything :) One of my favorite quotes from the mission so far: "You can do this, but you can't do this without Heavenly Father's help." That was Bradley D. Foster's wife at our mission conference last transfer. 

This week was super awesome. We found a TON of new people to teach. We're teaching Joseph, a guy from Ghana with a super cool accent, a woman named Ingrid from Germany, and many others, even a couple YSAs! Both Sister Hame and I have served in YSA wards (Sis Hame served in the Smedley's ward!) so we have a deep and abiding love for YSAs. We want to find all the YSAs in Kingman so we can start a singles ward. :) Carlos came to church again so he's getting baptized next Sunday evening and we can hardly wait!! We felt prompted to promise Nicole and Brittney, the bishop's granddaughters, that if they fasted and prayed and then asked their dad for permission to be baptized on January 17th, he would say yes. So on Sunday we all fasted together. I'll keep you updated on what happens! 

We've also started teaching the woman we met last week, Leah, who lives next to her burned-out trailer. She is so open to learning but it might be a long process with her because she just has so many temporal needs right now. Even if all we do is serve her and plant a seed right now, it'll be worth it. I feel confident that she'll get baptized someday. 

Well I'm out of time to write any more than this but I'll fill you in on the rest when we SKYPE! :) Can't wait! Love ya, and have a very Merry Christmas remembering the birth of our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ. 

Love Always, Sister Browning 

Monday, December 15, 2014

A New Awesome Transfer

Dear Family, 

Wait what? 

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 6:15, 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 around 12:00 our 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 thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis much :) Have a great week-before-Christmas! 

Love, Sister Browning 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Burned Bread, Bugs, and Pet Pot-bellied Pigs

Well hey family!!

Transfers are upon us again! Sister Martin is leaving and I'm staying here with a sister by the name of Fotheringhame. Maybe she's British? Guess I'll find out tomorrow :) In other transfer news, Sister Luke is going to be the new Mission STL (or sister AP). I am not even the slightest bit surprised! She's one of the most loving, life-changing leaders this mission has ever had :)

We worked so incredibly hard this week-- really sprinted to the end of the transfer. Xonya cancelled her baptism and we've had to stop teaching her because she's not ready yet. It broke our hearts. But she still knows it's true, and she'll be back! Meanwhile, we've started teaching her next door neighbor, a sweet teenage girl named Abby whose grandma is a less active member. She's gaining a very sweet, pure testimony of the gospel. :)

Working with two wards this transfer has been an interesting challenge. It's a little like juggling! :) 2  bishoprics, 2 ward councils, 2 sacrament meetings, 2 sets of investigators, 2 sets of members, 2 dinner calendars, 2 ward mission leaders. Double the fun!! I've finally got the hang of who is who and where everything is, so I'll feel a lot more confident in this coming transfer :)

One of our wards, White Cliffs, is doing really well... and the other is really struggling. We had to drop several of our investigators in Boulder Springs and our teaching pool has dwindled away to almost nothing. We have been fasting and praying for Boulder Springs, setting goals and plans and street contacting and inspired knocking and working with members and asking for referrals like our lives depend on it. I'm learning so much from having this ward where we have to throw ourselves into finding and work from the ground up. I'm excited to see what ideas Sis Fotheringhame has to get things going for Boulder Springs.

You remember Carlos, our golden investigator [White Cliffs] who's not been able to come to church for 2 months? Well, we had a miracle this week. His boss has given him all Sundays off for at least the next 6 weeks, and then at least every other week after that. There have been a lot of prayers for him, and Heavenly Father's heard them all :) He and his two adorable kids came to church yesterday and sat in the front, and he jumped bravely up to the pulpit and in his Brooklyn NY accent bore a powerful testimony of the gospel. He is set for baptism on December 27th-- we're so excited for him!! This year, he gets the gift of the Holy Ghost for Christmas. :) And White Cliffs gets a new, strong priesthood holder who I feel certain will be a leader someday.

We have 2 new investigators named Ignacio and Silvia! They came to the Christmas broadcast last night, and Ignacio has great questions about the prophet and Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon... according to Sister Martin. Here's the problem: I don't speak Spanish! I sat there like a vegetable in our first lesson, kicking myself for not taking that Spanish class I intended to at BYU. They don't have Spanish wards out here in the valley, so it's Sister F and my responsibility now to make sure that Ignacio and Silvia are taught the gospel! Sis Martin is so sad that she's leaving just as we gain Spanish investigators... and trust me... I am too. :P But thankfully there are lots of members here that are Spanish-speaking return missionaries and hopefully they can help us.

Couple funny stories for you. Funny story #1: We were street contacting this nicer neighborhood and met an old lady who pointed us in the direction of her daughter's house down the street. Just as we're walking up to the house the garage door opens and 2 big friendly dogs come bounding out, followed by this put-together, classy-looking, nurse practitioner lady. While we were standing there answering her questions, thisHUGE PIG appears in the doorway into the house and walks into the garage. I'm talking HUGE. Just emerges like a kraken from the deep. Its stomach was so big it was dragging on the floor and its eyes were sunk into its massive head... the woman, Mary Lee, goes "oh, that's my pet pot-bellied pig!" The pig lives in her house. I was so surprised I started laughing. During the course of our conversation with Mary Lee the pig got jealous and knocked over a card table with its face, and also peed in the corner of the garage. We have a return appointment, so we will probably see the pig again.

Funny thing #2: I finally have a funny dinner appointment story. There's a woman named Victoria who has come to church for years but is pretty hostile, typically, to missionaries. The woman who coordinates our dinners called her, on accident, and Victoria said, "well sure I'll feed em!" We show up, a little nervous, and find that her entire house is full of smoke. Apparently she burned the garlic bread. Reeeallly bad. So we got all the windows and doors open and left them that way the whole time.. The smoke finally cleared about 40 minutes later. Meanwhile, we're nibbling around the inch-thick char on the garlic bread and hearing stories about Victoria's life and the Native American heritage she claims. "The thing about me," she says, "is that I have a southern accent." Apparently she picked it up after 2 years in Texas and just can't get rid of it. She didn't have any accent before the story, and after the story she spoke with the thickest southern drawl I've ever heard. I was just like wait... what? So we finish eating and we've both had seconds at her command and I go back into the kitchen to clear the dishes and notice lots of little bugs scatter across the counter as I set down the plates. *freeze* *process* *gag* Poor Sis Martin was pretty sick the next day. But we're still laughing about it!

Picture 1 is us with one of our favorite families, the Pease's, when we stopped by so Sis Martin could say goodbye. They are the champions. The most missionary-minded family ever! :)
Picture 2 is from Lita's baptism. It's been such a privilege teaching Lita and helping her family to return to activity in the church. She has not had an easy life and being blind has special challenges that I've never faced. Bishop told us that he's never felt the spirit so strongly in an interview with a child of record. In his welcome to the ward talk, he said, "It's not often that I find myself crying in a meeting with a small child. I knew Heavenly Father was sitting next to her, saying, 'This is my child, and I love her, and I want her to be baptized.' " She really has one of the strongest spirits I've ever felt!

This week I'll hit my 6 month mark on the mission. I didn't believe them when they said it goes by fast, but now I do :) I have one year left to learn everything I was sent here to learn and make the impact Heavenly Father intends for me to make. Time to hit it hard and give it everything I've got! :) Love you all so much!
Love, Sister B

Monday, December 1, 2014

I Blinked, and November was Over!

Dearly Beloved Family!! 

Well you are all incredible. Thank you for praying that I wouldn't be homesick! Your prayers worked, I was not homesick on thanksgiving, just happy and grateful to be out here and grateful that I have such a great family to miss. If I never left I'd never fully appreciate what I've got! For example: Scrabble and Nertz and Ticket to Ride would have been a little bit more like "Sure..." but now that I fully appreciate thanksgiving with your family I'll be like "YESSSS SCRABBLE NERTZ TICKET TO RIDE!" In the future. Know what I'm saying? ;) 

To quote mom: "It must be awkward spending a traditionally family oriented feast with people you don't know very well, but better than being alone." Haha... well, yup! I'd never talked to them before in my life. But it was nice. :) And Sister Michelson is an amazing cook. After we ate an early dinner with them we drove around delivering little gratitude notes we'd made and little tins of cookies to some of our investigators, less actives, recent converts, bishops. We made a dozen notes and that was exactly as many people as we had time to visit. It was a good day! Sister Martin's first Thanksgiving. So special. :)

Our seminary speaking assignment turned out kind of comical :P Sooo... me being a poor communicator and Sis Martin learning English, she thought that we were joint-teaching a class rather than giving two separate talks... and I didn't realize that's what she thought until she got up in front of the pulpit! She motions me up to stand next to her and I kind of did this awkward... "Me?" So I just went with it xD rather than giving the talk I prepared, I just kind of helped her give hers. I wondered why she was prepared with so many visual aids when we left the apartment. We were finally able to talk about it and get on the same page after the morningside was over, with a mutual "Ohhhh... oops." Pretty funny :) It still went well though. Hopefully it helped some of those kids to make scripture study a priority! 

Our area has a lot of recent convert/less active work to do. It's so sad when those two groups become the same thing! They had some great elders in the White Cliffs ward about a year ago, and after those elders left a lot of their recent converts stopped coming to church. So we are trying to go to the rescue. :) 

One family we're working with, the Rackley's, has a very special place in my heart. We actually started teaching their daughter as an investigator, but then we realized she is 8 years old. (VERY tall and VERY smart for 8 years!) So she's technically a child of record baptism. We're still going over and going through all the lessons with the family, because they're all trying to get active again. I wish you could just sit in on one of those lessons. The Spirit is so strong in their home. We asked Brother Rackley to share how the gift of the Holy Ghost has made a difference in his life and he started to cry. And Sister Rackley started to cry. And Delaney started to cry. And I wanted to cry! Why does the Spirit make people cry so much?? "But it's a good cry," as Bro. Rackley said.  

Xonya is having a really difficult time and needs your prayers. Her dad passed away on Friday and so she wants to push her baptism back a few weeks. We just want to be there for her and help her through it at her pace, but she keeps missing her appointments and church and going MIA for long periods of time. I fasted for her yesterday. It's hard to know how to help this grieving 16 year old girl who's already gone through more in her life than I can imagine... I know it's not us she needs the help from, but her Heavenly Father through us. I am exercising faith that He will help Sis Martin and I know what to do.

I have one request for you all! I told Nelson about this already, because he's kind of the resident jokester, but I need any and all missionary-appropriate, punny, cheesy, gospel-related jokes you can think of. We send them to one of our investigators, Brock, and it's a wonderful way to have daily contact and keep the gospel on his mind. Different tactics for different investigators... Here are two examples: 

How many missionaries does it take to change a lightbulb?
Two, but the lightbulb has to want to change. 

How does Moses make his tea?
Hebrews it! 

--He really liked the last one. But I'm just not that funny and my joke repertoire is basically limited to those two. So if you can think of any jokes like that, please send them my way!!

Dad, we were over at Bishop Tinnel's last night (we are teaching his granddaughters) and he had just gotten home from a long afternoon of tithing settlement. I had told him before how you've been a bishop twice, and last night he said "I just keep thinking about your dad and all the tithing settlements he's done. Give him my deepest respect and sympathy!"

Another transfer is coming to an end this week, and I can hardly believe it! We're going really hit it hard this week and try to find teach baptize reactivate pray plead work sweat and serve! Most likely Sister M will be leaving since she's been here for 6 months and I'll probably be staying, but I'll let you know next week after we get our transfer doctrines. 

I know Thanksgiving is over and we're moving on to Christmas (yaaaaaaaaaay) but one thing I've been focusing on lately is having a grateful heart. Positivity and optimism. Preach My Gospel says "do not become discouraged; discouragement will weaken your faith." So even when I don't see the immediate results of my work-- when people don't enter the waters of baptism, when they don't show up to church, when the auxiliaries don't immediately get on board and I haven't won the hearts of the people or been able to get through to them-- I'm trying to focus on the things that are going well and the lessons I'm learning from the things that aren't. It's easy to focus on the trial of a mission, but that's a trap. So even though thanksgiving is over, I'm working on an attitude of gratitude in my heart!  

It always makes me so happy to hear about how you're doing! Thanks for writing to me and for all your support! It means the world! Love you all!! 

Love, Sister B 

P.S: I found out yesterday that Bro Cornelison in my ward is Taylor Bird's half brother! How cool is that?! 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Dear Family, 

The Phoenix temple dedication was wonderful! No, we didn't actually go, but we did watch it broadcast at the stake center, just like when the Boise temple was rededicated. That's so cool that Chase got to carry a flag for it! It's fun knowing that the Browning cousins are doing double-duty on Arizona right now. ;) 

Speaking of extended family, please tell Grandma and Grandpa I said thank you so much for writing. :)  Their advice and encouragement was just what I needed! And it was nice to see pictures of the cabin too!

That's really scary what's been happening at CCC. What are you going to do? Has that caused a strain in the homeschool group? A lot of churches out here have similar classes. It just shows how true the gospel really is, if Satan's working this hard on it. Breaks your heart when it's honest, good, Christian people who have good intentions. I loved your thoughts about covenants, mom. Without ordinances and covenants we are left with only a shell of Christ's gospel and teachings! I agree, I would never trade that in for less. I think at this thanksgiving, that's what I'm the most grateful for-- the Gospel, my covenants, my family, and my Savior. 

Well this week was pretty fabulous! Prayed hard and worked hard. We are teaching a young couple named Kim and Terry (Sis Martin and I always get it mixed up and say Tim and Kerry... how horrible haha). Terry was baptized when he was 8, and Kim is a nonmember. They have an adorable, bashful, chunky-monkey 18 month old son and a lot of heartbreaking financial struggles. On Thursday, we went through a big pile of old clothes that sisters have left behind in our apartment, filled two big gift bags with what we thought would fit Kim, added a couple old things of our own, and took it to her. We also found a toy Finding Nemo turtle and took it for Levi. The look of joy on hers and Terry's faces was the best part of the whole day. Sister Shade, whose family got sealed on Saturday, bore the most wonderful testimony to them about how this Gospel blesses families. You could just see how hopeful it made them feel. I want to see Kim and Terry make it to the temple so bad! That would be a dream come true! 

One of the best things about the mission is that I never have to go to bed wondering if I served anyone that day. Sure, I may occasionally wonder if my efforts made a difference, but I never have to wonder if I tried! It's the best feeling! :)

We had a little miracle with Carlos last night. We decided to be bold and have a lesson about the importance of church and the sacrament, and he told us that a really grumpy ("frumpy, not grumpy" in his words) coworker switched with him so he can have Sunday Dec 13th off work! That's only one week earlier than we thought, but we'll take it. "By small and simple things are great things brought to pass!"  Sis Martin and I just about cried. Haha :) We're still praying that he can have as many Sundays off as possible. Preferrably, uh, all of them. :) 

Xonya is one of the most incredible 16 year olds I know. The young women have been really welcoming to her, and we're having an FHE with her in one of the young women's homes tonight! Last night, in our lesson on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, she told us that before we met her, she had been struggling with drugs and using them to cope with her problems. The day after she made the resolution to quit was the day we knocked on the door. I see what you did there, Heavenly Father ;) His timing is muy perfecto!! 

On Saturday, President and Sister Snow stopped by on their way back from Havasu to drop off some mail. Our 4:00 appointment cancelled, so they came to the stake center to see us. Our dinner cancelled too, and what a blessing, because we were with them until 5:30. He took the time to visit with Sis Martin and I individually and give us blessings. It meant the world that he'd do that for us! It has been made clear to me over and over again that President Snow is called of God. This mission needed to have his tenderhearted, wise, compassionate, optimistic leadership at this time for missionaries like Sis Martin and I. There's been a lot of people in my life that I'd consider "second moms," but President is the first "second dad" I've ever had! It blows my mind how much he loves the elders and sisters in this mission and how much he sacrifices for us. We're sure spoiled out here in the NLVM. 

As far as living conditions go, our area almost feels like it's split into the Celestial, Terrestrial, and Telestial kingdoms. I wanted to show you the contrast, so I took a picture in the "celestial zone" and one in the "telestial zone." Yep, those are both in my area! 

Funny story of the week: While going through the old clothes for Kim, we found a cute purple button-down shirt... upon further investigation we realized it had an horribly tacky snap at the bottom, like a toddler's onesie? Gotta do something to keep the shirt in place, I guess? Ha well that onesie/blouse thing has become the running gag in our apartment. I'll hang it in Sis Martin's bathroom, then she'll put it on my desk, then I'll put it on her bed... Sometimes we'll leave notes with it, like "A gift for you!" 

Well I hope you all have a wonderful thanksgiving!! Tell the Forkeys and Smedleys and Grandpa I said hello and I love them :) We'll be helping out with the community turkey trot in the morning, then we have district meeting and then a member family is feeding us dinner. Should be a good day!

Sister Browning 

Monday, November 17, 2014

How great the importance to make these things known!

Dear Family,

Well I feel bad about complaining about the cold if it's 1 degree in Rigby! It's dropped down to 40 here in Kingman and Sis Martin and I are two little popsicles. I've gotten soft out here. It's the coldest part of the mission but I can handle it ;) Mom, I got both packages on Saturday-- the one with my gray coat and the one with the blue. Thank you for sending those! It's just nice to see something from home, and putting on those old coats feels like a familiar hug. :) 

First off, I need to answer your questions from last week that I forgot to answer! What am I eating? Meat 'n potatoes. I've had it 7 times, to be exact. I'm not complaining, because it's delicious, but it's like Sunday dinner every dinner ;) This ward keeps us well fed! I'm still doing green smoothies in the morning-- or sometimes oatmeal, because I'm cold-- and usually sandwiches or tortillas for lunch-- or soup, because I'm cold. :) 

What am I doing for exercise? ...*sigh*... We're pretty limited out here. I miss running. If it were up to me, I'd run every day, but the cold weather is really hard on Sis Martin, being from Mexico City. So occasionally she bundles up and we run laps around a little gopher-hole-filled field behind our apartment, but I don't want Sis Martin to get sick again like she did a few weeks ago. We can't ride bikes either, because mine is still back in Robindale, and Sis Martin doesn't have a bike at all. Usually I just exercise in the apartment. Do you have any suggestions on what else I can do?? With daylight hours getting shorter and shorter I'm sure feeling the need for more exercise.

You also asked to hear more about my investigators, here's a few key people we're working with right now: 

Carlos, basically the coolest New Yorker ever. He has two little adorable kids and is probably the next bishop. He's got a super strong testimony and is willing to live the Gospel to the fullest-- the only problem is church. We can't seem to find a way for him to get work off. :/ Pray for him!!

Margot, a sweet older lady whose husband was baptized a few months ago. She has the opposite problem of Carlos-- comes to church each Sunday but just doesn't know if baptism is for her yet. She doesn't want to feel pressured. We know she will get there. We are just praying to know how to help her.

Brock is a lot like Margot, if Margot were a 30-something year old elementary school teacher with a hilarious witty sense of humor. He's dating one of our members-- who is also an elementary school teacher, awwww-- and ever so slowly progressing. Same as Margot, doesn't want to feel pressured. 

Nicole and Brittney are Bishop Tinnel's preteen granddaughters, and they have the most vibrant testimonies! Please pray that their parents hearts will be softened. 

Lita is a spunky 8 year old girl who comes from a less active family-- she is an incredible dancer and she's also blind. We're gonna try some different methods of teaching this week to help her really understand and have her own testimony of the Gospel, and hopefully get her family more involved as well. 

We met a few amazing new people this week-- a 16 year old girl named Xonia, who went to Meet the Mormons with a friend and now wants to be baptized!! We sat outside at a park bench in the wind yesterday and had a spirit-filled first lesson where she cried and bore her testimony of the power of prayer. Wow. Heavenly Father has really been preparing her for a long time. Hopefully she'll be baptized on December 7th!

We also met a 8 year old girl named Delaney, whose family are all less active members who want to come back to church. After Sister Martin recited Joseph Smith's first vision, Delaney started to cry, and her mom started to cry, and bore a powerful testimony that she's always known these things are true but that she'd forgotten. They're going to start reading the Book of Mormon as a family, and hopefully we'll be able to help them return to full activity in the church!! 

 I went on exchanges with Sis Hutchinson to Lake Havasu on Wednesday, and the whole exchange was a confirmation to me that Heavenly Father knows where we need to be. Sis Hutchinson is amazing, super hilarious and real. She and I are the only newly-transferred sisters in the zone, and she's gone through lots of things on her mission that have taught her wisdom and empathy. Sis Hutchinson gave me advice that was exactly what I needed to hear. She warned me to never ever compare myself to other missionaries and banish negative thoughts as soon as they enter my head. And she told me that whenever I wonder if a struggling area is my fault, that's Satan trying to plant a seed in my head, and all he has to do is get me to water that seed and he can limit my effectiveness as a missionary.  Well, that simply won't do. So I can't listen to him! :) She taught me so much about the power of faith and optimism. Gotta exercise more of it. :)

Rather than having regular church this Sunday, we had the Phoenix temple dedication! It was beautiful and the talks were amazing. If only I had packed a white handkerchief with me on my mission. ;) It was a little weird to tell all the investigators, "no, there's no church this Sunday..." But it opened up the door to talk about temples, which is great! 

Dad, it's funny you mention it- DJ and I were joking on the way to her baptism about the idea of her getting baptized in her mermaid tail! Sunday afternoon, Sabrina, Dianna, DJ, Michael, and Derek all drove down in a minivan to Kingman, stopped in Black Mountain to pick up Sister Luke, and took us with them to DJ's baptism. That was a dream come true. Going back to Robindale, seeing all those people I love so much gathered to support DJ, who's been waiting so long to get baptized-- it felt like we'd all died and gone to heaven! Super cool to see Derek get to baptize DJ, too. The love and unity that the YSAs in Robindale have for each other completely blows me away. I felt so motivated to do all I can to help Boulder Springs and White Cliffs become that same kind of ward. Robindale is truly a family, but it wasn't always that way. BS and WC can do it too! :)
One more story. Sometime during the week, we knocked on the door of a potential, Marsha, who invited us in. She turned out to be a former member who'd left the church 30 years ago. She was genuinely concerned for us and asked us to stop reading the Book of Mormon and the Bible for a month, and "only read history, and see what a difference it makes." She had so much doubt & anger & frustration and I felt so bad for her! All I could think was... Why would I do that? Asking me to stop studying the scriptures would be like asking a person on oxygen to turn off the tank and see if they can breathe easier. Meeting her was a confirmation to me that I do have a deep, grounded testimony that I know for myself that everything I've believed since I was a toddler is true. It was a fulfillment also of all the things they talked about at General Conference last month. She fulfilled Elder Anderson's words that Joseph Smith would be attacked from all sides, but if we had our own testimony of him, "the constant volleying of water balloons from the sidelines may get us wet, but they can never extinguish your fire of faith." And she fulfilled Elder Uchtdorf's words, that if we use the instruments God has given us we'll grow in light and truth but "if we remove ourselves from the light of the Gospel, our own light begins to dim-- until we look back and can't quite understand why we ever believed the Gospel was true."

Dad, what you said in your email reminded me of Marsha-- "Of course there are those who seek to avoid light and truth. You must not let them influence you or make you feel discouraged and afraid." It was frustrating to hear her voice complaints that we knew we had the answers to, knowing that all we could do was testify and walk out the door. But Sis Martin and I have thought about it several times since, as it made a lasting impression on us. Thank you, Marsha, for unknowingly doubling my faith in what I already knew to be true!

Favorite missionary scripture right now: 2 Nephi 2:8. "Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah." 

Sending pictures from the baptism and Pday last week. (Excuse my companion, she's basically a model.) ;) 

I love you all! 
Sister Browning

Monday, November 10, 2014

You Know You're a Real Missionary When...

...the last speck of toenail polish from home is gone.

Seriously, that stuff lasts forever!
Dear Family,
You have ELDER HOLLAND coming to your Stake Conference?? Merry Christmas to you, that's so exciting. You'll have to take good notes and tell me all about what he says. How cool that you get to be interviewed by him, Dad, and Mom gets to lead the choir? Go Mom go! That will be a meeting to remember.
It sounds like everyone's doing well. Congrats on the new trampoline Aubree and Ryan, that's a great investment. I hope this one doesn't blow away! ;)
I'm not jealous of your weather... it got up to the 80's this week and I was happy as a clam. Apparently Arizona Novembers are a little bipolar? When it dipped below 50 I thought I was going to die... I've gotten soft! Haha
Well, we got to take a road trip to Vegas on Tuesday to attend an all-day conference with half the mission. Elder Bradley D. Foster of the 2nd quorum of the 70 spoke. (Apparently he is from Rigby? Did not know... embarrassed... but I talked to him and Sister Foster at lunch and they know Darwin and Colene, of course, and the Shippens, of course. Fun!) The entire conference blew my mind. Elder Foster had ideas that completely changed the way I look at missionary work.
A couple bold and loving and awesome quotes from his trainings:
"When missionaries are getting hung up on numbers, they've lost the vision." Oops.

"Too many missionaries are playing missionary. Don't play missionary. BE a missionary!" 
And a couple that hit me hard from Sister Foster's talk:
"I know that at some point, you've knelt down with tears in your eyes and told your Heavenly Father, 'I don't know if I can do this...' You can do this, but you can't do it without your Heavenly Father's help." 
"When you're tired and discouraged, you remember Who called you here." 
I wrote that second one on a piece of paper and hung it above my study desk. Her words have really been helping me this week. As far as the work goes, It was probably one of the hardest weeks I've had on my mission so far. We worked so hard and did our best to implement Elder Foster's ideas about working with the members, but it felt a little bit like we were riding a stationary bike. Almost all of our solid investigators have decided they really want to take their time before deciding to get baptized. They want to keep meeting with us, but it's not really going anywhere... The 8 year old girl we've been teaching, Lita, has stopped answering our questions or speaking in lessons, so now even though she wants to be baptized, we're not sure what to do.
I had my first experience attending 6 hours of church plus meetings on Sunday! I stayed awake through the whole thing! Covering two wards has been an interesting challenge. We really want to work more closely with the members and build their trust in us. The hard part is remembering which members go where. ;) One of our wards is doing much better than the other, so that's the other thing we're trying to figure out how to do-- balance the work and amount of time between both wards.
After planning last night, Sister Martin and I knelt down and had the most heartfelt companionship prayer I think I've ever had. We thanked Heavenly Father for trusting us with both these wards and the people in them and begged his help in accomplishing what we were sent here to do. We were both crying through the whole prayer. I'm so blessed to have her!

Whenever I'm tempted to think that the work is struggling because of me, I remember Who called me here, like Sister Foster said. I have lots of weaknesses, but this is His work, not mine. I'm so grateful to be in an area where I really have to decide, over and over, every day, if I'm going to give it my all. I'm grateful for however long it's going to take to see success. Heavenly Father is mindful of the people in this area, and whether I get to help them with the beginning, middle, or end stages of their progression in the Gospel, I'm just grateful I get to be a part of it.

Fun fact about Kingman: I regularly drive up and down part of Route 66... Like Cars route 66... it's part of my area :) 
Funny story of the week: So I was the designated driver to and from the mission conferenceon Tuesday (that's not the funny part), and on the way back, there was a different sister sitting in the passenger seat than on the way down, because the other companionship of sisters had done an exchange. For some reason I assumed she knew the way to Kingman, even though she's a Lake Havasu sister... When we passed a sign for Needles & Blythe California, I was finally like... "Sister Hutchinson... Do you know how to get to Kingman?" 
Sister Hutchinson slowly shakes her head... Haha so we called someone and they told us just to keep going. We went the looooong way and ended up in Kingman at least half an hour later than we'd planned. Just took the wrong freeway. Oh well. :) Now I can say I've been in all 3 states in the mission in one day. Didn't leave mission boundaries though so that's good! ;)
One other thing... we had a lesson in Gospel Principles (my second gospel principles of the day..) on prayer. Someone shared a story about the power that comes from praying for other people. Whoever is praying for me, thank you for praying for me. It means the world and I can feel the blessings that are coming from your prayers! 

Love you all so much, 
Sister Browning
P.S: Quick update... DJ just called me and informed me that she, Dianna, Zach, and the gang are coming to Kingman to pick me up for her baptism next Sunday. And I don't have a choice. Haha I love her! Hopefully it does work out to where I can go! 

Pictures: Language study with Sis. Martin! I feel like a real life English teacher!
And a family photo at the mission conference. I got to see Sister Luke again (<3 <3 <3BFF<3 <3 <3) The middle sister is Sis Arnold, who trained Sis Luke, Sis Martin, and Sis Herman (the one on the end.) Then Sis Luke trained, me, and now Sis Martin and I are companions!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Sister Browning Learns Spanish, Sort of

Happy Monday from the windy and remote city of Kingman AZ! :)

Megan thinks Kingman is beautiful!  
Whoooo I don't even know where to begin. I feel like I've started a brand new mission. And I have no idea what I'm doing! :) Last Monday I said my goodbyes at FHE and Tuesday I got on a bus and now I'm here... It's like the Wizard of Oz in reverse... I was in the Emerald City, I got swept up in a tornado and landed in Kansas!

This area is pretty cool. Apparently the district leader covers a ward where he and his companion backpack 10 miles down into the Havasupi nation and live in a church building for a week. And one time the sisters went to the Grand Canyon for Pday. Just a little taste of what it's like out here. :) Serving in Kingman is definitely a privilege. Not everyone gets to leave the valley and see this part of the mission, so I feel really grateful!
This work is SO different than what I was doing before. I've gone from working with singles to working with families, from one covering ward to covering two, from the busy city of Las Vegas to the slower-paced... whatever Kingman is. I should feel overwhelmed, but I feel strangely hopeful. We had a rough week but I can't deny that I feel like amazing things are going to happen this transfer.
My companion Sister Martin (Mar-teen, not Mart-in) is an absolute angel. She's from Mexico City and started learning English when we were together in the MTC! So there's a little bit of a language barrier, but honestly, she's doing amazing. She's one of the sweetest, most humble, loving, focused missionaries I've served around. She got sick on Saturday when the temperature dropped suddenly (Kingman knows it's November) so I've been trying to take care of her. Meanwhile she's been teaching me a little bit of Spanish! I can now say "Tu eres mi mejor companera" and "somos las misioneras de la iglesia de Jesus Cristo de los Santos de los Ultimos Dias" and a couple other things. Whenever an appointment falls through or someone flakes on us, we jokingly say "Salvacion!! Comprendes?!" Hopefully my Spanish is a little less wimpy by the end of our time together. :)
One of my favorite, and also one of the most frustrating, things about this area is working with the Elderly. Sis Smith would always tease me because, in Robindale, whenever I saw an old man walking down the street alone, it made me soooo sad. Like... where's his wife?? What's his story?? Does he have the Gospel?? So now I get to teach them, which is awesome! We're teaching a sweet old man named Ronald who had a stroke recently, but in his earlier days he was a Motown singer. He's got all of these pictures of himself on his walls, gussied up in a tux, posing with people like Aretha Franklin. Apparently he's been taught by sisters fooorrrreeeever, but yesterday, he finally came to church for the first time!! It was stake conference, actually, but Elder Christofferson and Elder Uchtdorf were speaking over a broadcast, so... even better. ;) We also taught a 93 year old lady named Helen who, in her closing prayer, asked God to let her leave this earth already... that sort of thing breaks my heart. I love older people sooo much.

Happy Birthday to Dad, Nelson, and Jeren this coming week!! Do something fun and exciting for me! You have birthday cards coming in the mail! but they might be a little belated :P
We got to volunteer at a community 5k run on Saturday morning-- we were windy and cold but it was worth it!
I've been learning a ton lately about the Atonement. I read in Matthew this morning the account of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and it was a little overwhelming. I love my Savior. He did that for me! The more I learn about Christ the more it motivates me to share the gospel for the right reasons-- not because I'm supposed to, or out of fear of failure, or desire for recognition, but because I have been given a precious gift and the whole world needs it. Whether you're 5 or 95, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the way to lasting happiness.

I love you all so much! 
Sister Browning

Monday, October 27, 2014

"I'm Going on an Adventure!"

10 points to whoever names that movie. Jeren ;)
Dear Family,
Aren't you so grateful for temples?? It's amazing the personal revelation and clarity of mind we can have there. Just goes to show that all important decisions gotta be made off of the Spirit and not by our own wisdom, 'cause logic will fail you sometimes. Thank goodness that we can take our questions to the temple. Your experience with Grandma and Grandpa in the temple was super cool :)
Laurie mentioned I'm getting transferred... I'm going to Kingman Arizona! O.o We show up to the mission office on saturdays to get our "transfer doctrines," these printouts with our new area and new companion and assignment... when I read mine I was initially like, "Is this someone's else's??" Haha :P I felt pretty confident that I was staying in Robindale for another transfer but Heavenly Father has a better plan! Saying goodbye is really, really difficult. That's the wonderful and terrible thing about a mission-- you get the opportunity to love so many people so deeply in such a short amount of time. And then you get to move and do it again. And again. I cried... and then I prayed.. and then I realized that I have the choice to complain the whole way to Kingman, or 1st Nephi 3:7 it. Nephi said "I'll go. I'll do it," and Laman and Lemuel murmured until they lost precious blessings, but either way, they went! I'm going to the promised land. And I'm very very excited to see what it's like. :) Because I have no idea!
My new companion will be Sister Martin, which I'm SUPER happy about, because she was in the MTC with me. Not my district, because she was learning English, but she came out in the field with me. She's adorable and we'll get along great. Meanwhile, Sister Smith is staying in Robindale and training a new missionary!! Lucky girl that gets Robindale as her first area. Who gets to be that spoiled? ;)
It was a great last week in Robindale, that's for sure. Too many amazing stories to write down. We got to do more reactivation work than we have in the past-- we found a girl named Inger, a guy named Brad, and a guy named Sean who haven't been to church in a while and we've been working with them. Reactivation work is so exciting; I really feel like I get to help the Good Shepherd find his lost sheep!! These young adults have made covenants with their Heavenly Father through baptism and we get to be there to help them get the anchor of the Gospel back in their lives. Super cool.
Zach, Derek, Stefanie, Akeem, and Sabrina are all doing so well-- which is the biggest blessing. The fact that they're all growing and progressing in the gospel is all I could ever ask for. We got to meet with all of them for new member lessons this week, and honestly, I think I learn more from them and their strong spirits than they ever learn from me! It's a privilege to be able to sit in on those lessons with the ward missionaries!
Seeing as this is my last email from Robindale here is a list of a few things about Robindale that I love:
  • The amazing, helpful, inspiring members that become your best friends
  • Being so close to the mission office-- we teach there sometimes and always poke our heads in and say hi to the office staff. They've become our best friends too :)
  • Bishop Tuke, one of the greatest bishops of all time
  • The Elvis impersonator that lives in our apartment complex... I'll miss him
  • Las Vegas Blvd. The APs send us so many referrals that we're there a ton, and we meet the most colorful people! From Santa Claus to a man in a skirt to the sweet old lady from Nigeria with no teeth... Las Vegas Blvd has it all.
  • Sister Smith!! The theme for the past few days has been "Sister Smith... who's gonna sing in silly voices with me now??" "Sister Browning... who's gonna quote Disney movies with me now??" She's a great girl and incredible missionary. I'm glad I got to serve with her if just for a brief time.
When I get transferred out of Kingman I'll send a list of things I love about Kingman too :)
Well I get to go to dinner with Laurie & Kevin & Rebecca tonight, which is about as exciting as it gets!! And then Tuesday morning I'll be heading out. I'm praying really hard that I'll be able to find rides back to Vegas for all the baptisms coming up-- especially DJ and Alexis. It's about an hour and a half-2 hour drive, I'm hearing.
1 Ne 17:13"And I will be your light in the wilderness, and I will prepare the way before you, if it so be that ye shall keep my commandments... and ye shall know that it is by me that ye are led."
Lots of Love,
Sister Browning
Pictures: A potential investigator named Samson left a note on his door explaining why he wasn't at our appointment... this is a big deal. No one's ever done that before! YSAs have this funny habit of just... disappearing, and ceasing to exist when you show up. The note made us so happy we asked our member to take pictures of it. Haha!
We put on a carnival this Saturday for children living in shelters to come and trick or treat and play games inside the church building. A big bus picked up them and their families and brought them to us. Sister Smith and I manned the bean bag toss game, and also had a photo-opp with Mary Poppins and Bert (Nan and Steven, the cutest couple to ever grace the Robindale ward.)
And us with Alexis at dinner before the fireside last night :)

Last P-day fun with Sister Smith

Monday, October 20, 2014

"I Cannot Say the Smallest Part Which I Feel"

Alma 26:16 :)
Hi Family!
Thanks so much for sorting through so many pockets of random Megan-things to put together that package! I don't even know where any of my stuff is at home, so... I can only imagine how long that's taken! I really appreciate it :)
Mom, I'm printing out your email and re-reading it whenever I have an "off day." I love you! :) And yes, green smoothies are my bread-and-butter. (That's kinda punny...) I usually do almond milk, spinach, kale, bananas, frozen mango and strawberry, chia seeds, sometimes peanut butter. If I can get my hands on all that stuff that you use, I want to give that a try!
Well this week, our teaching pool exploded. It was the most exciting thing ever. Do you remember how last week I said I had a feeling that the next week was going to be full of miracles?? Oh boy it happened! Sister Smith and I set a higher goal for finding new investigators than we ever have before. I know Heavenly Father blessed us because we commited ourselves to that goal! Prepared, amazing people just seemed to come out of the woodwork.
 We're teaching this amazing girl named Alexis who's preparing to be baptized on November 8th! She's had a hard life, but you could never tell just from looking at her. She's risen above all the hard things in her past and found a testimony of Jesus Christ on her own. A friend from college gave her a Book of Mormon and she read through chapter 8 before we even met her. Wow! She had the sweetest experience when she prayed about the Book of Mormon... she prayed before bed, and woke up at 4:30 AM with the book in her arms like a teddy bear. We promised her that Heavenly Father wanted her to know that her testimony of that book could be her best friend, and bring her more comfort and peace than any other book. She's become good friends with Michael, and Sabrina, and their recent convert experiences are helping her a ton. That's one of the amazing things about Robindale--  in the same week that we meet them, our investigators are already hanging out with the ward members and being included in the group, without us asking them to, without us being there.
One other fun story from Alexis: She graduated college recently as a fashion design major, so she dresses really smart. At institute on Wednesday she excitedly told us "I bought my first modest dress for church! It even has sleeves! I searched forever and finally found one I liked!" Of course we hadn't asked her to, but the fact that she took the initiative to do that warms my heart. She's so ready to follow her Savior and do whatever He asks. :)
If I wrote down every experience and tender mercy and miracle from this past week, it'd go on for miles. I didn't know I had enough room in my heart to love so many people so much! I  wish I could bottle up that feeling and send it home so you could know exactly what it's like. I'm so, so grateful. Ammon says it best... "Who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel." A recently returned missionary spoke in church yesterday and said "I know I went on my mission to find my friends." That is exactly how I feel, especially serving with young single adults. I know I knew these people before this life. I can just imagine us making some kind of pact that whichever one of us had the gospel would share it with the other. And since I have been so blessed to be raised in a home where I always knew who I was and who God is and what His plan is for us, I get to be the one to share that with my friends! Because if the roles were reversed, I know they'd do it for me.
Speaking of love. I LOVE Sister Smith! She's such an amazing missionary! I've been noticing lately that the Spirit is really working in our companionship. On multiple occasions every day, we will have the same prompting of where to go, or what direction to take a lesson, or who to call or visit.. we even say the same things in the same tone of voice at the same time. And even though it happens every day, we'll just turn to each other, like *gaaassp...* the Spirit!!Anyway, Sister Smith is amazing. She is so good at loving everyone, right away, no matter what they're like on the outside. If she were a Disney princess, she'd be Esmerelda from Hunchback of Notre Dam. She's got this strong, independent, don't-need-no-man personality coupled with an incredible "God Help the Outcasts" charity and love for those around her. I love serving with her and I'm praying for another transfer together!
Well I'm fresh outta time but that's just a little bit of my wonderful week. Please pray for President Snow as he finalizes plans for transfers. I know that whatever happens next transfer is what Heavenly Father needs to happen :)
I love you all! Sending a belated picture from Meet the Mormons last week. :)
 Lots of Love, Sister B
P.S: Mom or Dad, do you have Brother Hillam's email address? I'd love to write him a lil thank you note. :)