missionary plaque picture

missionary plaque picture

Monday, February 23, 2015

Wonder of Wonder, Miracle of Miracles!! A Wedding! :)

Dear Family, 

Would it be kosher to audio record one of Dad's talks and send it to me? I would love to hear him speak! If not, I'll have plenty of time to enjoy his spirit-filled talks next year. :) Jeren and Lauren, I'd love to see pictures from your fun cruise if you have time to send them! Speaking of pictures-- you'll have to take a picture with Sarah and send it the next time you see her! 

So some amazing things happen this week. Every day has miracles in it, but the ones this week were huge! We organized a 2-hour blitz for our area to try and help Boulder Springs, and on Saturday the two sets of elders in our district came in and worked the area with us. We saw some cool things happen from that. After the blitz, we had a voice mail from Helen (not 95 year old Helen, Gavin's mom Helen) saying that she had some wonderful news to share. Sis Hame and I looked at each other and screamed! "Drive, Sister Hame, drive!" so we rushed over to her house and, just as we guessed, Gary had decided on her birthday that he was ready to seal the deal and legally marry her!!! They will be having a little ceremony next Sunday with just their two closest friends, the Pease's and the Damrons. It helps that their main fellowshipper got called to be the new bishop of the ward. Bishop Damron's first wedding will be for his best friends! Gary wants Helen to be able to get baptized with Gavin on the March 8th. In 2 sundays, after more than 2 years of waiting, Helen finally gets to enter the waters of baptism. She told us, "I can't wait to have [the Holy Ghost as] my constant companion, and not just a peekaboo friend." So many prayers and fasts have been answered this week! I'm so grateful and so are the dozens of members and missionaries that know and love her.    

Andy and Anna came to church for the first time! They loved it, especially Andy! Even though there were so many people. What a champ. The Gospel Principles lesson was on baptism, which Andy told us later was perfect, since "that's coming up soon for us." Yeah! And we finally got to start teaching Braden, their 10 year old son. He said he's coming to church next week! I love that family so much, I can't even explain it.

 Franco also came, but had a less savory experience. He was kind of uncomfortable with the newness of it all. And he sat in on our presentation of the Plan of Salvation to the 11-12 year old class, and was bothered by the doctrine of three kingdoms/eternal families. We did our best to answer his questions in the hallway, but he wasn't having it... So that was kind of disappointing. He's the first person I've taught who felt so opposed to it. I know that if he just sincerely prayed about it, he would know it's true. But missionary work is all about inviting! Christ said "come unto me," not go. He draws men unto him but never forces them. If Franco takes that leap of faith and prays and reads he'll come around, I know it. :) 

We have a new ward mission leader in White Cliffs, Bro Kahananui, and he is the champion!! One of my only regrets if I get transferred is that I didn't have the chance to work with him for longer. He is a real ward missionleader! He isn't the middle man, he is the man with the plan! He's got all these amazing ideas of how to make missionary work a team effort with the ward, such as calling one ward missionary from each auxiliary and have them represent missionary work in a correlation every other week, opposite ward council. And he wants to have a 40-day fast with the ward, which just proves he's inspired because that's something we felt prompted to try as well. Amazing things are going to happen with him as WML! We are trying to take good notes and apply those things in Boulder Springs as well, because we know that getting the members involved is the key to getting the work going again there. 

All transfer long, we have had a goal of getting 70 street contacts in a week. That is the standard of excellence for the mission-- easy to achieve in Las Vegas where there are lots of people out, but difficult in Kingman. Usually we only get in the 30's or 40's. This week, we had a miracle and hit 70 right before it was time to go home. We said a good heartfelt gratitude prayer to Heavenly Father for helping us finally achieve that goal! It's not like there were extra people outside, but somehow we talked to 70 people. It truly felt like the loaves and the fishes. 

I'm going to echo Dad's testimony and say that the Church is true! Christ is at the head! "Absolute truth exists in a world that increasingly disdains and dismisses absolutes" (Elder David A Bednar). I know this. If we're faithful, through the blessings of the Gospel we can receive incomprehensible joy now and in the eternities! Have a wonderful week, I love you all! 

Sister Browning

Monday, February 16, 2015

Sister Browning Steps on a Cactus

One more funny story to report. We spent Thursday knocking a lot of doors and visiting potentials. At 6pm we show up to our one appointment of the day-- a less active visit. We make it halfway up the yard (of  dirt and rocks. Arizona yards are dirt and rocks.) when I step on a cactus. I yelp, and Sis Hame turns around, "what, didja step on a cactus?" and steps on a cactus. So we stand there like idiots, each balancing on one foot, trying to hold on to each other, our scripture cases, our family mission plan, and pull the stupid barbs out of our feet... meanwhile the kids come out of the house, "didja step on a cactus?" and tell us they're leaving... so they all drive away while we hang out like a couple of storks in the middle of their treacherous yard. Sometimes, missions are hard, and also hilarious. 
Dearly Beloved Family!

Wait, Katherine went to Triple Play?? I went to Triple Play when I went to All-Northwest! Please tell me she went down the spinny funnel waterslide thing. It's so magical. I really hope she didn't miss out on that. 

Also, Dad, I'm really excited that you talked about grace and the Holy Ghost in ward conference. Too many people, even members of the church, I'm finding, misunderstand grace. We often run into people that tell us things like "yeah... I used to be a member of your church... but they expect you to be perfect and that's too hard." Well of course-- it's a tall and impossible order to perfect yourself. I love that scripture in Moroni and how it says in so many times. We are made perfect in Christ, we are sanctified in Christby the grace of God. As Brad Wilcox says, 'Christ does not make up the difference, Christ makes all the difference. We are not earning heaven, we're learning heaven." The more I learn about grace the more patient I am with myself and my many weaknesses! 

I will definitely keep the Porter's in my prayers! I love that family! And oh my gosh TELL SARAH I LOVE HER WHEN YOU SEE HER ON SATURDAY <3 I'm so proud of her! She's such a champion!

Aren't the Cornelsons awesome?! We ate dinner at their house last week and had a blast. I said something and Bro Cornelson goes, "how fortuitous!" Which is a phrase I've started saying a lot, but Sister Hame thought fortuitous wasn't a real word... we couldn't agree... so I go, "I TOLD YOU IT WAS A REAL WORD!" And we had 'em laughing pretty hard :) 

This week started out looking like a challenge but ended up being a huge blessing. We had a few empty days with no appointments-- not the most common thing in this mission-- and we were looking at our planners like, "whaaaaaa?" But it gave us the opportunity to talk to lots of people, try new things and be creative. We have a ton of new ideas we want to get going to help out our wards, especially Boulder Springs. For example: We met with the young women president and they're going to have an activity where the young women write their testimonies in copies of the Book of Mormon and mark their favorite scriptures, so we can give them to people we meet. Something simple that they are willing to do that will help them get involved in the work! We're going to try and get the Young Men on board too. 

We've been teaching a little boy named Gavin who is about to turn 8 soon. His mom Helen has been investigating for 2 years now and has only not been baptized because her husband Gary won't legally marry her. Lame... so she has seen both of her older daughters get baptized and now Gavin is ready to get baptized too. We are praying really hard that Gary will have a change of heart so Helen can get baptized with Gavin. She's already a Mormon, just needs to add water. So she's been waiting for a long time. Gavin's lessons are so fun and so hilarious. This week, we gave an FHE lesson at the Bishop's house with Helen and Gavin and Bishop's cute little kids. We brought nerf guns (a Christmas present from Momma Hame) and had a lesson about "avoiding the firey darts of the adversary." They got to shoot down scriptures to read about church, prayer, scripture study, etc. They loved it! 

Doug D-doug doug accepted a date d-date date! He had been praying about a baptism date we extended, and he felt like it was too soon... So we asked him, "well, when do you feel you'll be ready for baptism?" and he picked April 18. So now he's working towards that! Hooray! 

Quick update on our recent convert Carlos: He finally found a new job! And his daughter is turning 8 soon so he gets to baptize her! We're so happy for him :) 

Sister Hame and I sang an arrangement of I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go in Church this Sunday. She was really nervous for her solo verse but she sounded like an angel. It's fun to get to do stuff like that! 

The elder's quorum in White Cliffs put on a Valentine's Day family dance, which was a huge success-- for the nonmembers, anyway! I think we had just about as many nonmembers/investigators there as we did active members. Our next-door neighbor, Franco, came, which was HUGE because we have been trying to get him in the church forever. After the party we were able to show him the chapel and he goes "Wow... I feel really good in here. I haven't felt this good in a long time." He and his mom just moved here from Vegas to be the new manager of our apartment complex. We've been establishing a great friendship with them-- the ward even brought them dinner when Franco was in the hospital a week ago. Hopefully they will continue to soften towards the church and we can start teaching them soon :) Andy and Anna also came, a big step for Andy! Having a small number of members there was a tender mercy because he felt comfortable rather than being overwhelmed. He brought his brother, Mark, who drives truck and lives with them when he's not on the road. We went over for a lesson last night, re-taught the Restoration, and invited Mark to be baptized with Andy and Anna! He accepted the date! Andy is a great missionary already! 

Alright, here come the quotes of the week.

Brock, after learning about quorums and classes: "So the young women are the beehives and marmalades?"

Sister Hame, sharing what she learned from the New Testament: "...and then I learned I can't call anyone 'raca'... it's a temptation sometimes, but I avoid it"

Sister Hame again: "The real reason I had you drink out of the straw first is cause I was afraid there was a spider in it."THANKS.

Explaining how last year around Valentine's day, all of her investigators dropped her: "I thought my mission would be a time where I was free from breakups. I get broken up with on a daily basis."

Also, this week, I was told by a street contact that I look like Mary Magdelene. Well gee, that might be the best compliment I've ever been given!

A couple nuggets of wisdom from Sister Hame as well: 

"I realized that I can be sad and discouraged and then the Spirit can't trust me, or I can expect the Spirit to guide me and He really pulls through." 

"Even when I'm miserable, I'm happier than I've ever been."

Amen and amen! The past 8 months have been the biggest blessing of my life. Serve a mission, you guys. Every split second is worth it. Love you all! 

<3 Sister Browning 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Serving Holiday Bingo Here in Kingman

There's a park in downtown Kingman with a choo choo :)
 Dearest darlingest family,

I finally got your package!! Thank you for the shells and the camera! I did get my camera fixed, though, so now I have a plethora of cameras. :) Would you like me to send the camera back or hold onto it?

I'm not even going to recognize the house in 10 months. How exciting!!

So, by the end of this week, I will have been in Kingman for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, and Valentine's Day! If I stay another transfer, I may hit Easter, too! That'd be all the major holidays except for July 4th. Pretty cool. :)

Well this was kind of a weird week because we had Zone Conference and Zone Training, both in Lake Havasu, which is an hour's drive from Kingman. It felt like we were gone from our area a lot. I learned a ton, though, and both meetings were much needed.

As of today, Bobby has moved to Tucson to seek help for his addiction problems. We'll miss him but we're proud of him! He's out of the mission but he has already hooked up with the ward and missionaries down there and he should be good to go. He told us before he left that he fully intends to get baptized once he's gotten cleaned up. It was a privilege teaching him but it's time for someone else to be his missionary.

Andy and Anna are still doing great. They are my absolute favorite! Andy told us that he has been feeling his testimony grow little by little. Our member fellowshippers, the Walkers, are going to pick up a white shirt and tie for him from the DI. He said that even though he's never been a church-goer, he could feel that something was missing on Sunday because he didn't go to church and he knew that's where he should be. Awwww. :) Anna is hanging back a little bit but we are being encouraging with her, and so is Andy. They want the whole family to be on board with learning about the gospel. Hopefully we'll get to start teaching their 10 and 18 year old sons too! That would be ideal!! Andy and Anna accepted a baptism date of March 24th. Kind of far away, but probably best for their situation. That's a Tuesday, random... but when we were praying about them that date came to mind, so we figured it was the Spirit. Anna said that's the day her dad passed away. Huh. They accepted the dates! The why behind March 24th remains to be seen. Heavenly Father must know something we don't!

We had a really cool experience with Doug where he finally admitted that he knows the church is true! YEAH! :) But he is hesitant about baptism because 'he wants to do it right." We read D&C 20:37 with him, the qualifications for baptism and asked him to listen for the word "perfect." It never says you have to be perfect to be baptized, just that you need to have the desire to follow Christ fully. That seemed to really make him think. The next day he missed his appointment and then he wasn't at church... Hopefully we get in contact with him soon!

One more cool story. On Thursday, we were doing some inspired knocking (like tracting, but... more inspired) and knocked on the door of a woman named Carol. "Missionaries! Come on in!" She proceeds to pull out a huge stack of LDS books and set them on her coffee table; "This is everything I've read about Mormonism!" Included in the stack was the Book of Mormon, Gospel Principles, Teachings from prophets A-Z, etc etc. She had actually been in the middle of A Marvelous Work and a Wonder when we knocked on the door. Cue jaw-droppage.

 Carol is an English teacher, so naturally she's fascinated with world religions. And she has a daughter who's a convert so she decided to really do her research. She told us, "tell me everything that missionaries say. I've always wondered what missionaries say." So we got to teach her the first lesson. :) She wouldn't let us keep teaching her because she 'will never join and doesn't want to disappoint us,' so that was a little disheartening. However. As we were driving away, Sister Hame and I both felt strongly that her story is not over. We were talking about how cool it will be to get to the other side and see people we knew as missionaries who accepted the Gospel without us ever knowing. How many people have I met whose stories aren't over yet? The Spirit was so strong at that moment and witnessed to us that we are only seeing a small sliver, right now, of the joy and success and pay-off that will come because we chose to serve. I'm sure looking forward to that perfect day :)

So, for the past 2 months now, we have been listening to the same CD in the car on repeat. We have not gotten sick of it once. It is called Redeemer by Nashville Tribute, an LDS country-ish group. The whole thing is about Jesus Christ's life and mission. It's entertaining AND paints a beautiful picture of the Savior and helps me think about Him as we drive around. I would exhort you to find a copy of this CD immediately so that you, too, can partake in this great joy.

Although, I apologize for song #3, that one's just weird. :)

My favorite Sister Hame quote of the week, after someone shared with us the latest depressing current events: "Sometimes I think I'm so much of a patriot that George Washington possesses my body and goes 'NOT IN MY COUNTRY!' " A true Missourian, ladies and gentleman.

 Love you all! Mom, BE SAFE when you're out running and please carry pepper spray! Dogs are scary!

Lots of love,
Sister Browning

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Only January of My Mission is Over?

Hey Family!

I'm super happy for  little missionary moment with Debbie and Scotty Krick. Boy do I know what it feels like to have people flake on you! Only EVERY day! So it really is something to celebrate when you finally do make that contact! How wonderful that they got to be in your home. Feeling the Spirit in a convenant-keeping home makes the biggest difference in peoples progression.

Those quotes from this week made me laugh out loud! Thanks for giving me more reasons to laugh! Keep em coming!!

Well this week.... What happened this week? Oh! So Dominic, this guy we started teaching and then passed off to the zone leaders, got baptized on Saturday! He is 15 years old and good friends with Gavin, one of the priests in our ward. He came with him to church for 2 months and then introduced himself to us and asked if he could take the lessons. He was ready for baptism by lesson 1. But he lives in Centennial Park boundaries, so we passed him off. It was really cool to be at his baptism and see him there with his awesome supportive family and awesome supportive friends. Just goes to show that you are always setting an example as a member of the church, and people are watching, and it is making an impact! Even and especially in high school! Those kids are such great missionaries and Dominic is so elect! He'll be a great missionary himself in a few short years.

We also had a miracle with Doug. Have I told you about Doug? Sister Hame calls him Doug the Thug. Because he kinda has this tough-guy air... but he is a teddy bear, and we know the truth. We have been teaching him for about a month. Lately, he's really started to progress, and on Saturday we had a SUPER Spirit-led lesson with him... I hardly remember what we talked about! Best feeling ever! And he finally said he would come to church. True to his word, he came! He was pretty wiped out after the first hour but promised with a twinkle in his eye that he would come to all three hours next week. Yayyyy Doug!

Can I also tell you about my new favorite investigators?? This week we started teaching a couple named Andy and Anna. Ohhhh my gosh. I love them with my whole heart. Andy has a lot of social anxieties that make it hard for him to leave his apartment. We met him via miracle one day when "something told him" to go check the mail. That was a big hurdle for him, but because he did it, and talked to us, we were able to set up a return appointment. He has so much faith and such a sincere desire to know what's true. He's being so brave, praying, reading, inviting people into his home, and making plans to come to church! Anna is so supportive. My heart absolutely goes out to them. And the coolest part is I can feel a little smidge of Heavenly Father's love for them. And He loves them a LOT! :)

We got a new bishopric in White Cliffs! Change is hard because I absolutely love Bishop Tinnel and I'll miss working with him. However. Our ward mission leader, Brother Pease, is now in the Bishopric so that calling is wide open... And we are praying that Bishop Tinnel fills the spot! That would be the dream!

And of course, some gems from Sister Hame for your enjoyment.

After our investigator got a ride to church and then walked home when no one was looking: "Only in Boulder Springs could you get an investigator to church and they still don't come to church."

In a Word of Wisdom lesson with our 13-year-old recent convert: "What they don't show [in beer advertisements] is the part where your head is over a pooper and you're throwing up everything other than your memories!" Thankfully the young women leader present laughed at that one.

"You know you're a sister missionary when you go to remove the black makeup residue from under your eyes... and it isn't makeup"

"This town is full of weirdos, but they are God's weirdos, and I love them."

"I love you like a fat kid loves cake... well... like a missionary loves cake... because we're all fat"

Dominic is the crazy tall one in the middle. His friend Gavin who baptized him is on his left:)
We also had exchanges this week; I went to Havasu with my favorite Sister Hutchinson!
Hiking in the Hualapais

I love you all! I know we have a Savior that performed an infinite Atonement for us! I know that He thinks of you every time He looks at His hands, and understands perfectly your struggles. "I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me." 1 Ne 21:16

Onward ever onward!
Love, Sister Browning