missionary plaque picture

missionary plaque picture

Monday, August 25, 2014

Another fabulous week in the chosen valley!

Family! :) 

Thank you so much for sending pictures! It's so great to see Jeren's graduation, Lake Powell, and all the other fun stuff! The thank you that Katherine made for Grandpa is unbelieveable... Did she take that picture?? You could sell it as a postcard! 

Happy Birthday to Mommy on Wednesday! Dad said you got my gift! I hope you do something awesome like test drive a corvette ;) What are you going to do at the Humanitarian center? You selfless serving mommy you! 

Speaking of birthdays, Josh is 20 today! Anyone else think that's crazy?! Feels like we were 14 and 15 just yesterday. :P 

Wow, you'll have to keep me updated on what happens with the old white house. I think it might be like a good luck charm or something; I'm nervous for you to tear it down too. It's just too full of history! But I guess it's not doing much good just sitting there :) 

Oh and thanks for the green smoothie recipes! I'll put those to good use, 'cause I actually drink a green smoothie every morning. I discovered the secret-- ALMOND MILK. It makes it taste like a milkshake. Dessert for breakfast, but 100% good for ya. Plain ol' milk would do the same thing, probably. :) 

This week was so super great. Have I mentioned how much I LOVE LAS VEGAS? This is the place! Brigham Young said it, well he was talking about Salt Lake, but he should have been talking about the Robindale YSA ward in the Warm Springs Stake of Las Vegas. I am p.r.a.y.i.n.g that I stay here next transfer. There is so much work to be done! 

Derek's baptism was amazing! He was absolutely glowing! So many people showed up that we had to move into the chapel. That's mostly thanks to Zach, our little social ringleader. He made sure evvvveryone was coming.

 Something else cool is that the whole program was done by recent converts of less than 4 months. Michael, a member for 3 months, baptized Derek, Don, 2 months, gave the baptism talk, and Zach, 1 month, gave the talk on the Holy Ghost. These new converts are the life force of our ward! And that's exactly how it should be! 

 Sis Luke and I bought him a white shirt and tie to wear-- green, his favorite color-- because he didn't have one. He was confirmed in church yesterday!  

It's fun what you notice sitting up at the piano-- So many faces beaming at Derek. None of his family came to support him-- can you imagine not having any family support?-- but our ward is amazing; they've really just taken him in. I also noticed Stephanie, our investigator who is getting baptized in 2 weeks, crying through most of the baptism. Feelin' the Spirit! :) We've been able to meet with her several times this week and each time I'm blown away by her sincere questions and deep testimony. She is so ready! 

Speaking of baptisms. Big news! Do you remember Tori, Mr. "That-would-be-a-waste-of-my-time" turned social convert turned investigator? He is getting baptized in the Royal Mesa Ward-- NEXT WEEK! This is such evidence to me that the Gospel changes people. That's the best thing about serving a mission-- seeing that happen. It's amazing what a knowledge that you are a son or daughter of God can do. He texted us the other night and said, "Time to get off the fence." His heart is changed! 

Johnny is still doing well also-- he is a fun challenge to teach. Almost every time we go over, he's asleep or just woke up. We usually go over in the evenings. Bless him :) But he came to the baptism and to church, which is huge. We see so much potential in him!

We have a few new investigators this week! Alejandro, Aaron, and DJ (Danielle). I have to tell you about DJ. She is amazing! She's been through a lot-- she's only 23, was a military wife and just went through a bad divorce-- but her faith is unshakeable. She was a referral from the APs, and we met her at the beginning of the week. She came to all 3 hours of church, fed us a yummy dinner last night, and then we taught her the first lesson, which was INCREDIBLE! Apparently, there's been things she disagrees with at every church she's been to. And she's been to a lot of churches. Hmm... you sound a lot like Joseph Smith, DJ. :) When we read Moroni 10:4-5, she said, "That's a testimony right there that this book is true... Who would tell you to ask God unless it were true?!" Right, that's what I'm saying!! I know we will see miracles with DJ. She is a miracle herself! 

Our ward increased in numbers this week because a handful of BYU-I student teachers are here for a semester. I walked into institute Wednesday night and one of them looked verrrry familiar...Janna Merrill! Holy blast from the past, she's in the ward! 

Funny story of the week: If the luck Sister Luke and I have had with cars transfers over to cards, you should never let us gamble. Because we would lose all our money. XD This week at Zone Conference, our vehicle coordinator checked all the missionary cars to make sure they're in good working condition... and killed 4 out of 10 of them. Hahaha he left everybody's headlights on! Thankfully we got a ride to our next appointment and didn't have to miss it, and we got our car back that night. Apparently the AP's had been blasting our super girly church music as they drove. It happens. :) 

I love you all! I'll send some pictures in a minute or two! (And I'll try and re-send some old ones in a different format.) Remember that Heavenly Father loves you, is individually aware of you, and hears and answers prayer! 

Lots of love-
Sister Browning
The Sisters, Michael, and Derek!

You Sneaky Mom! :)

Alright, Family.

Last night at the Why I Believe fireside, Sister Smith comes up to me with her camera out-- and there's a picture of all y'all on there!! Haha it blew me away! I can't believe you were here and left and I had no idea! It sounds like Katie's talk was fabulous. You're right Dad, her topic was very similar to mine :) Just one question, Nelson has a beard?? Haha going for the rugged look I see ;) You guys looked so happy!

Bout 2 minutes after Sis Smith told me you were here, President Snow walked up to me to say hello, so I told him "Guess what President? My family was in the mission today!" And he says,"And they didn't call?!" Apparently it would have been ok for you to see me for an hour, for dinner or lunch, as long as you get permission from them. Oh well. Something to keep in mind if family stuff brings you to Vegas again! I haven't struggled much with homesickness in a long time so I'd enjoy that. But it's great either way, whether you want to see me or think it would be too hard. It's just kinda fun to know you were so close! ;)

Well, while you were at Katie's homecoming talk, I was singing a solo in church! Haha not sure how I got roped into that, but boy let me tell you. Singing in church is a lot more nerve wracking as a missionary! There's a part of you that's like "There are investigators here, and they have to feel the Spirit, and what if you mess up and they can't feel the spirit and they don't come back to church and it's all your fault *fhoooo* *whooo* *fhooo* *whooo*" I sure prayed that the Spirit would accompany my singing and that it would help strengthen people's testimonies of Christ. It strengthened my testimony at least, so I think it worked :) I sang I Know That My Redeemer Lives and a girl named Kaitlin accompanied me. She's a middle school choir teacher, so I'm thinkin we should've switched places ;)

 Gonna backtrack now and talk about the week. This week was FABULOUS! There was a sister's conference on Friday where allll 100 of the sisters in the mission got together and had an uplifting training and a yummy lunch. It was like a huge powwow spiritual-shot-in-the-arm girl's day! So I got to see Sister Robinson again (sooo much love) and many other sisters that I love as well. A couple counselors from LDS family services came and talked to us about guilt, shame, and vulnerability; Mom, you would have loved it! It finally sunk in for me-- the difference between making a mistake and viewing it as "I did a bad thing" and "I am bad." One leads to self-improvement, and the other leads to low self esteem! Gotta get rid of stinkin' thinkin', as Sister Neider would say!

We took Derek on a self-guided tour of the temple grounds, explaining baptisms and family history work and temple marriage. He really understands that baptism is not a finish line-- it's just the beginning! He told us "I'm coming back as soon as I possibly can!" Good guy Derek. :) His testimony is so strong. His baptism is on Saturday and I'm thinking we might have to move into the chapel because the whole ward may show up! He's become so popular! Keep him in your prayers this week please :)

To answer your question Mom, Stephanie is still doing great! She asks the absolute best questions in lessons. I've learned over the past couple months that there's a huge difference between "asking questions" and "questioning." When you ask questions, you sincerely want to know, but when you question, you want to disprove or discredit something. Stephanie asks questions! That is such a strength! It shows that she has so much faith. It's so important that when we have honest questions, we ask them, but don't let them be fueled by our doubts. I think they talked about this in Conference. :)

We have a new investigator named Johnny! How do I describe Johnny? I really don't know how to describe Johnny... except he's a riot! He keeps us hoppin' for sure! 20something YSA, apparently was in jail recently, crazy tattoos, swears like a sailor, laughs at evvvverything, but has a great heart. He keeps surprising us by coming to the things we invite him to, including institute, the luau, AND church, and making lots of friends in the ward. He is progressing and I think we'll see miracles with him!

One of my favorite things about being in a single's ward is that there's always activities to invite people to! We sound so cool in street contacts... like, "Yeah, you should come to our church, they go to the beach and play volleyball and racquetball and there's a luau on Saturday with a whole roast pig and hula dancers and everything..." I'm not sure why everybody doesn't want to be a Mormon! ;) The luau was a huge hit. Several investigators came, a less-active and her boyfriend, and Michael even invited two random guys he met in his apartment complex who showed up. They came to church the next day AND we got a return appointment. I'm catching the vision of church activities! Sister Luke and I ran around like everyone's moms, making sure everyone was having a good time and had rides to get there and rides home. We shouldn't have worried-- the ward is so unified!

Oh, one more thing. We went to contact a new referral several days ago and ended up on the strip! Haha whoooooops. I'm so glad we were with a member. But we realized the referral was going to be out of our area, so we said "we'd better exit the freeway," and all of the sudden.... there's the castle! It was basically the most exciting and also petrifying experience of my mission so far. We're still laughing about it.

Being a missionary is so super cool! When else do you get to see as many amazing things happen in other people's lives every day? Whoever's been praying for me, thank you, because Heavenly Father has been pouring blessings down. This is the best decision I've ever made! It's worth every minute!

I'm going to try and re-send some pictures so you can see them. ...next week, because I forgot my camera cord. Haha sorry the pictures haven't been working! Have you been able to upload them to the blog? In the meantime, I'll send a few from Sister Luke's camera.

Lots of love, Seester Browning

The LAST week of the FIRST transfer!


Happy birthday to Aubree! 13 going on 30! Did she get my card? Also happiest of birthdays to Lauren, and Jen Rawlins and Katie Holmes, if they're reading this ;) Strange to think the Browning reunion has come and gone! It sounds like you all had a blast! I love how our whole family has become this group of roadrunners! Fun fun! 

Well some of our numbers this week were lowlowlowlow. But our determination to work hard was sky-high! And we are so excited about how well some of our investigators, especially Derek, are progressing. Lemme tell you about Derek. He has made AMAZING changes in his life! He told us that he's been praying for the strength to keep the word of wisdom and avoid temptation, and as he's been doing so, lots of his old friends that are bad influences have stopped calling. He even broke up with his girlfriend because she wasn't on board. Go Derek!! He is so ready for baptism. 

Sister Luke and I want to teach girls sooo bad. Every time we get a girl potential or investigator, we get so excited! Like "They're gonna love the gospel and get baptized and be our best friends!!" Sometimes, unfortunately, that enthusiasm is just not returned. We met these two super cool girls named Rainee and Amber, 19 and 20 year old college freshman, who we have really high hopes for. They moved here from California and are looking for a church. We taught them the first lesson on Tuesday and have tried to contact them every day since, with no luck. But we're not giving up yet! 

Some of the new converts in our ward have really been struggling lately. It is so inspiring to me to see someone completely do a 180 on everything they've ever been taught. Some people are raised in homes where there is no love, and that is heartbreaking to see. As missionaries we really ask a lot of people but we know it's not impossible when they rely on their Savior. And I've been learning that I really have to rely on my Savior as well, so that I can be a vessel for the Spirit and help others the best I can! 

Apparently I picked up an admirer this week! Haha, we got a new investigator named Matthew last week, taught him once, got him to church once, and then he dropped us. And then he texts us, "it's a shame, because Sister Browning is very attractive to me. Would love to meet her soul." ?!? No one is meeting anyone's soul, thank you very much. Haha poor guy. 

Oh! GOOD NEWS. TORI IS READY TO TAKE THE LESSONS! We knew he would come around. However, since he technically doesn't live in our area, we are handing him over to the Royal Mesa YSA sisters :( It's so sad to think we can't teach him, but we're thrilled beyond thrilled that he's finally decided to take this step. 

Recent convert Michael got to baptize his dad on Saturday! He is starting the gospel chain for his family! It is so amazing to see this Gospel change people's lives, I tell ya. It doesn't matter if your 17 or 57, married or single, rich or poor, it is for you! As Gerry was bearing his testimony at his baptism, he said something that I'm sure was inspired of the Spirit for me. He said, "If you want to change your life, you have got to be willing to be uncomfortable."  Amen and amen! 

One other funny thing. Sister Luke is such a good, hardworking missionary that she does it in her sleep! I've woken up countless times to hear her whispering, "if you just pray about it you'll know it's true," or "and then we showed up at the door in our P-day clothes," or "can we set up a time to come back?" If that isn't dedication, I don't know what is. I think she's a little embarrassed but I think it's great. 

Family, thank you so so so so much for the package. When Bishop handed it to me, he smiled and said, "you look JUST like your mom." And when I saw Amber again yesterday, that was the first thing she said to me too! It's the best compliment in. the. world. Those pistachio cookies are to die for, better than anything I ever made! Jeren, Aubree, and Ryan, you'll have to let me know what your secret is! Thank you for doing that, and for making that super awesome shirt. It meant the world to me to have that lil' piece of home. :) 

Thanks for all the letters and emails this week! Keep having fun and being happy ;) 

Lots of love, Sis B