missionary plaque picture

missionary plaque picture

Monday, April 27, 2015

"I would have to say... April 25. 'Cause it's not too hot, and not too cold."

"All you need is a light jacket!" 
--Miss Congeniality

Dear Family that I love,

HOLY SWIMMING POOL! That is one big hole in the ground. You won't be swimming in it until November, you say? Are you sure you'll want to swim in it in November? Mucho frio. Muy frio. Whichever. It'll be cold. :)
Also, Ryan looks so much older. I almost didn't recognize him in one of those pictures. His hair is a lot darker and he just looks like he's ready to pass the sacrament. ;)
Mom, I love those quotes you sent about courage. One of my favorite anonymous quotes (that Aubree put in my book of quotes, Sister Cook read when she was on exchanges with me and then she quoted it in district meeting this week) is "Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day that says 'I will try again tomorrow.' " President Monson is all about courage! He also said "Courage, not compromise, brings the smile of God's approval." It seems like you're all doing lots of courageous things at home and I admire you for it! Keep going and keep being anxiously engaged in such good things!
Thank you for praying for our investigators by name, because those prayers were definitely answered. We had an AMAZING week. Here's an update on investigators:

We were able to get back in contact with John! We gave him a tour of the church building and have had two lessons with him. He seriously just wants to change his life. He's reading and praying and accepted a baptism date of May 16th, but he didn't come to church because he felt underdressed. He has an amazing fellowshipper though; our assistant ward mission leader, Ryan, is helping him so much. It's like they're brothers. Ryan went to pick him up for church and stayed for half an hour trying to convince him that it was ok if he didn't have a shirt and tie. "But you're all suited-and-booted!" says John about Ryan. Well, next week Ryan is bringing an extra white shirt and even putting jeans and a t shirt in his car so that, if need be, he can dress down to make John feel more comfortable. Haha :) It makes a world of a difference for an investigator to have fellowship like that. They may never progress without that crucial support.

We met a girl named Brissa this week who's absolutely amazing. She started being taught by some family ward elders and they passed her off to us. Apparently they took her to the temple and she cried as she felt the Spirit there. All of sacrament meeting yesterday was about the temple and family history work so she loved it. She's in the National Guard and leaves for Hawaii in a few weeks, but she will be baptized in June when she gets back.
We are still teaching Patrick and just pouring our hearts and souls into teaching him. He's still struggling to recognize his answer as to whether these things are true. Sis Koyle and I both feel strongly that he won't get an answer until he comes to church. He's military police so it's hard to get work off but he said he's coming next Sunday. We love him so much.
There's also Britany, Alfonso, and Kenneth that we were able to begin teaching this week. Kenneth is really interested but has difficulty getting work off for church, because his one other coworker is very religious and always asks for Sundays off. So one of them needs to be there. We promised him that if he prays and truly makes it the highest priority, Heavenly Father will provide him a way to come to church.
Ooh, really cool story: We taught a guy named Derr (Dare) this week who is a professional dancer! Sister Koyle was overjoyed. He dances for Cirque du Sole (sp?) in the Beatles show and used to be the lizard in... I think Ka? Can't remember. But the really cool part is that he was in the top 14 of So You Think You Can Dance. He was really interested at first but politely texted us and dropped us which was sad, but... still cool. Someday he'll be ready. 

We had to drop Fausto because he just wasn't progressing :/ We may also have to drop Maria Valeria and Pedro (we've started referring to them as "MVP") because they're not ready to keep commitments either. That's something that's always difficult, determining when to keep focusing on an investigator or when to give them a break. I've learned that it's just like Alma says in 5:62-- "Unto those who do not belong to the church I speak byway of invitation, saying: Come and be baptized unto repentance, that ye also may be partakers of the fruit of the tree of life." Everything we do as missionaries is about inviting, because everything Christ did was about inviting. You can't push people into the font or drag them to the gospel because that defeats the purpose of the Gospel. Living the Gospel means choosing to accept the Savior's invitation and change and progress. Sometimes you have to wait for people to be ready and give them space to reach that point. A missionary's time is really valuable and there's always other people to find who are ready to accept the message.
Miracles are happening in this area, and not just with the investigators; with the members, too. One of my visions for this area was to help every member be involved in missionary work and get them excited about it. In Robindale I was able to see how, when the singles start doing missionary work, everything in the ward improves. People start getting out of their shell and becoming friends. Attendance in Sunday meetings goes up, and so does the spirituality of the meetings. There are less clicks and there is more excitement about activities. And everyone becomes friends. Sis Koyle and I have been trying to meet as many members as possible and invite new people out with us each day. We're trying to make FHE a big deal and get lots of people to come. Little by little, the ward is transforming! It's so exciting! 

Sis Koyle was sick on Saturday and a member texted and asked if she needed anything. She said she would love a can of tomato soup. We got a knock on the door and our member was standing there with a week's worth of groceries... and LOTS of tomato soup. It was the sweetest thing ever! We stacked it all up and took a picture of it :) 

Love you all, 
Sister Browning 

Monday, April 20, 2015

My Companion's Excitement for Pday is Infectious

Note from Megan's Mom: Smedleys to the rescue--again!  They brought Megan medicine and homeopathics last week and took her out for dinner this week.  She is feeling so much better and so blessed to live in the Smedley's area!

Hi favorite family!! 

There's ANOTHER Burrows baby?! Tell them I said congratulations! He/she, name? 

Well, while you are all experiencing snow and bi polar Idaho spring weather, it was in the 90's down here this week! Members keep warning us that this summer is going to be a scorcher... because it was an unusually warm winter in Vegas. (I was in Kingman, which is quite a bit colder, so I missed that part.) 

I picked up my new companion on Wednesday! Her name is Sister Koyle and she's from Rupert, Idaho! I LOVE her. She is a fireball and a go-getter. She's super confident, bubbly, and loving. She was Miss Teen Idaho, if that tells you anything. Haha :) She was a dancer too... So we get along great. It doesn't seem like she's been out for 1 week-- she carries herself and talks to people like she's an experienced missionary. I'm really excited about this companionship! I think we'll make a great team! 

I'm feeling so much better now, just have a slight cough left! I'm taking allergy medicine and using that las vegas mix the Smedleys gave me. That basically takes care of the rest. :)

Sister Koyle and I worked so hard this week and it was wonderful! With Sister Koyle, I see my mission through different eyes.  I LOVE being surrounded by the "new missionary fire." I'd forgotten that I wanted to make it the "always missionary fire." I notice more and more miracles, and they feel more significant, even the little ones. 

...I also notice all the crazy people. There are so many crazy people in Las Vegas! And I'd kind of just gotten used to it. Quote of the week from Sister Koyle, as we see a group of people cross a busy intersection: "You know your clothes are too tight when you can see your cellulite through your pants and your long shirt." Haha, hahaha. Correct observation, Sister Koyle. 

Here's a list of the people we're currently teaching so you can pray for them by name: 

Patrick is in the air force here in Las Vegas. His family is back in Florida. He is so sweet and kind and humble. He has been struggling to understand the Book of Mormon but he's been very good about reading. We've been reading with him to try and help. He was going to come to the Why I Believe fireside with us last night but he texted us right before, saying that he wasn't sure he wanted to get baptized anymore. We're going over tonight to answer his questions and try to change his mind. 

Fausto is a really awesome guy who's very involved in his Christian church. He helps with a "celebrate recovery" group there and is always volunteering. He's already felt the Atonement work in his life... he just needs to understand how the restored Gospel will help him have full access to that Atonement! We gave him a tour of the temple grounds last week and set him for baptism but he's kind of stopped being responsive. He said he'd come to church this Sunday but then he didn't show up. We may have to drop him soon. 

Pedro and Valeria are siblings that we met on two separate occasions. Valeria is really interested but is preoccupied with her extended family because her grandpa just passed away and they get together every night after she gets off work to pray. Pedro is interested too but doesn't want to be taught without Valeria. We went over Saturday night to try and catch Pedro, and when we walked up the driveway we saw a girl we'd never met with gorgeous curly hair sitting in her car. She ended up being the girlfriend of Pedro and Valeria's brother. Her name is Maria. We came inside and had an amazing first lesson with her. The look in her eyes the whole time was like... "Could this be?" She told us she had goosebumps and kept rubbing her arms. We talked a lot about the Holy Ghost and how she can have the gift of the Holy Ghost after she's baptized. She accepted our invitation to be baptized and said she'd come to church the next day but then she didn't come. 

Sister Navarro also found this super cool guy named John on our last day together this week. He showed up on the temple grounds a couple months ago and had questions, so his info was sent to us as a referral that we had gotten a couple months ago but never got in contact with, so his name just went on potential sheets. Anyway, we finally met him on Tuesday! He had been praying for guidance just an hour before we knocked on his door. He was like, "So what's next, do we have Bible studies, are there activities at the church, what do I do next??" We gave him a Book of Mormon and prayed with him right there. He was gone when we went back for our return appointment, and we only have his sister's phone number... but we'll catch him again. 

So this week was challenging-- we taught the least number of lessons I think I've ever taught. Most of the people we're teaching just kind of went MIA. Or we'd meet them, set up a return appointment, and they weren't there. But I can honestly say that Sis Koyle and I did everything we could for them this week, and THAT gives me joy! It also gives me joy knowing that Heavenly Father has a plan for His children here in Las Vegas that is so much bigger than me. So I know that in his timing we will find the elect and see miracles. I keep thinking of Elder Holland's quote: "If, for a while, the harder you try, the harder it gets, take heart. So it has been with the best people who ever lived." 

So on Tuesday night I was making herbal tea for my throat... I thought I would try and, you know, get the last bit of crystallized honey out of the bottle. Hahahaha. It sounded like a small gunshot. My bad. 

Family Photo! Sister Luke and Sister Koyle and I at the assigning of new companionships :) 

I love you all, SO much! Have a wonderful week!

Love, Sister Browning

Monday, April 13, 2015

Conchas Are Not Snails

Dear Family,

Wow. What a whirwind of exciting happenings at home, huh? Congratulations to Brittney Young, she looked beautiful :) And congratulations to Atkin and Ruth!! Cutest couple ever! Now, if only they were getting married in the Las Vegas temple.. ;) I'm also super excited for Jennifer Houghton and Josh Browning and Katherine and Aubree for their talks... why are all our relatives so cool?? How did I get to be so lucky to be related to so many amazing people?
Every time you send pictures of the house, I'm surprised. There's so many changes happening to it that I can hardly keep up!  Can't wait to see the finished product! 

Mom, thanks for keeping my blog updated. It'll be exciting to look through it from start to finish in 8 months :) Will you also add anyone who requests me on facebook? Unless they look suspicious. Haha
To answer your questions, the number of investigators we have changes almost daily. It's really easy to find investigators in a YSA ward because everyone (exaggeration) says yes to us. Then comes the process of figuring out who's genuinely interested, who's actually willing and ready to keep commitments, and who's just too nice to say no. A lot of young adults will simply stop returning your calls or answering the door, and you have to drop them in faith that Heavenly Father will lead you to the elect. Right now we have a very small number of progressing investigators but I KNOW that this week will bring miracles :)

So that anti-waffle fast was just something personal I was doing to overcome some particularly tricky weaknesses. It was the most amazing fast I have ever done. I feel like I understand the Atonement on a much more personal level, and I'm so so grateful. I feel like I see others through a slightly cleaner lense now. I feel less critical and more tolerant. But of course I have to keep praying for Heavenly help every day.
Oh, and I've been meaning to apologize for the many texts you keep getting with pictures of me, mostly after I've eaten a delicious and fattening meal... the members here love to do that when they feed us. Olivia is a laurel in the area whose family feeds us sometimes. She wrote on that chalkboard and had us pose with i before leaving dinner. She also lives across the street from the park, so she brought us popsicles when we were playing Pday sports one day. She loves missionaries. :) 

This week, Sis Navarro and I both felt so fired up to make this the VERY best week of the transfer. And then, on Thursday, Sister Navarro got sick. And then, the next day, I got sick. So we were down and out for a day and a half. Through a Priesthood blessing Sis Navarro was able to make it through Ehidy's baptism with no problems :) The priesthood is real! Ehidy's baptism was really beautiful and she was actually baptized in Spanish. Even without any family support, the room was full of her lifelong friends that have just loved her into the Gospel. I'm really excited for Ehidy. She's here to stay. :)
We're working with a less active named Xareny who was baptized 3 years ago. Her cousin Nancy, who got baptized soon after her, left on her mission to Canada at the beginning of the transfer. The blessings of serving a mission are real: Because of her cousin's example, Xareny finally wants to come back to church and become fully active :) When we met with her this week she'd been reading the book of Mormon every day and praying every day. She came to church this Sunday and got a warm welcome from lots of members who love her! We had an amazing lesson with her about the Plan of Salvation, where we mostly focused on the Atonement and Temples.
Xareny had two good guy friends there-- both return missionaries. After the lesson, her friend Carlos goes, "Oh, I brought some conchas for the sisters! I'll be right back." Sister Browning, the only non-hispanic in the room, asks, "What are conchas?" Jason, without missing a beat: "Snails." Well, I'm not that dumb, so I protested, but everyone in the room continued to back up Jason and try to convince me that conchas are indeed snails-- like escargot or something. So I finally go, "Well, Carlos won't lie to me." Carlos walks in and Jason says "Carlos, back me up, conchas are snails, right?" "Right." He holds open the paper bag and I look in-- Gahhhh-- they're like Mexican donut things. Haha. They got me good on that one. :) 

Ehidy had a beautiful baptism!

And it's Sister Browning in her natural habitat. Every baptism, every district & zone meeting, etc. Learn to play the hymns, kids! 

This is a concha.  It is a donut…not a snail.

On Sunday someone walked through the chapel doors and it was STEFANIE! She has moved from Robindale to Temple view, hip hip hooray!! Oh I've missed this girl. It was a heavenly reunion. 
On Saturday we got our transfer doctrines. I am staying here and getting a brand new missionary, fresh from the MTC. GULP. I don't know who she is yet, but I will find out on Wednesday afternoon when I go pick her up from the mission office. I'm very nervous, but very excited. Please pray for my new companion and for me! I'm determined to help her love her mission and have a good experience from the start. I know that through the enabling power of the Atonement we can do anything that God asks :)
 D&C 90:24 "Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good."
I love you all! Thank you for your examples to me and your prayers :)
Love, Sister Browning

Monday, April 6, 2015

"I can teach you to dance, but you have to hear the music.”

Dear Family,
Well I think we can all agree that the best part of conference... was the part where President Uchtdorf started announcing the choir in German. What a jokester. :) Wasn't Conference amazing?? I have like 15 pages of notes in my study journal... I didn't intend to take that many but those men are so inspired. I loved every single talk. I loved it when Elder Oaks explained the parable of the sower because it made me think of so many recent converts, especially the ones we are working with right now and trying to help them grow their deep roots. I loved it when L Tom Perry talked about eternal families and how that sets us apart from every other church in the world. Only we have the eternal perspective of the family as eternal in both directions. I think that's my favorite aspect of the Gospel, is eternal families. I loved Rafael E Pino's analogy about the puzzle and how God can see the big picture. Sis Navarro and I have been talking about that one a lot. I loved Kevin W Pearson's evangelical zeal, pleading with everyone to "read every day, every day, every day!" Amen, Elder pearson. I loved Elder Holland's story that so beautifully explained how the Atonement redeems us from the fall, and Elder Uchtdorf's beautiful explanation of grace. I think my favorite talk was Wilford W. Andersen's, about that constant need to feel the joyful spiritual feelings of the Spirit. 1) because I have a big spot in my heart for music and dance, and 2) because it is SO important to keep practicing until the Holy Ghost truly is our constant companion. Oh wait... I loved Elder Renlund's too, becase he had so many good quotes... Ahh! How does a missionary pick a favorite conference talk?? I just want the whole WORLD to watch conference and love it!
This week we spent nearly the entire thing inside at meetings-- interviews with President Snow on Tuesday, weekly planning, zone training, and 8 hours of  conference. It was like being back in the MTC for a week, I was receiving so much spiritual instruction. That's kind of nice right in the middle of your mission, but I'm excited to work hard this week. Not as much happened in the work, but we were still able to teach a good chunk of people, have lots of street contacts, and we found this SUPER golden new investigator named Misael. He's 19 years old and wants to be a missionary. Apparently another set of missionaries ran into him right after we taught him the first lesson and he could spit it out like he'd known it his whole life. Give this guy a white shirt and a nametag!!
On Tuesday, we were walking through an apartment complex when we heard the words "church" and "latter day saint" coming from an apartment above our heads. Sis Navarro and I stopped, looked at each other, and scrambled up the stairs to find the door mo the apartment wide open with the 3 most fabulous, sassy, lovely African American women standing in the front room. They welcomed us in with a "heyyYYyy, just in time!" The two older women, Ranelle and Kennika are a mother and daughter who live there-- converts to the church-- and the other cute woman was a contractor for century link who just moved here from Kansas. Courtney came to Ranelle and Kennika's home thinking she would just be checking to see if their internet was fixed, but left with two new friends, a new babysitter for her two year old, some advice on where to find a good apartment, a new church for her young family, and the starting buds of a testimony. I love seeing how the Spirit works to make sure, if we're listening, that we're in the right place at the right time!

The rest of the week can be summed up in pictures. :) 

Sand volleyball, kinaki and easter egg hunting for Pday last week with the Sunrise stake. I love these kids. Sorry about my scantilly clad kneecap *gasp*

​Dying easter eggs at lunch. The glasses were a gift from us :) We have too much fun here.
Ehidy came to the stake center and watched general conference with us! She loved it! 

Kennika, Ranelle, and Courtney. Instant best friends! These ladies <3 <3

​So funny story about this mid-conference brunch... We walk from the stake center over to this member's house, and they have a spread of waffles, strawberries, ice cream, eggs, sausage, bacon, chocolate chips, the works. Not anticipating this development in the day I had chosen to fast... Haha, haha, hahahaha. You never know how much self control you have until you're fasting on waffle day. 

Well... this is it for the Josh's! I can hardly believe it. Tell them congratulations from me when you see them both this week ;) Love you all!!
Sister Browning