missionary plaque picture

missionary plaque picture

Monday, May 25, 2015

One thing you can always count on in life is CHANGE! :)

Dear Family,
How is it warm enough in Idaho right now to go camping?! Oh wait... you have a trailer these days. :) How fun! Thanks for all the pictures! Congratulations to Kafferine, carrying the banner ;) Nelson, email me about your life... :)
Thank you for sending that birthday package, family!! I can't believe I will no longer be a teenager in 4 days. Turning 20 in Vegas... the only thing wilder would be turning 21. Ha-ha. ;) I can't wait to get it and open it up and laugh at the random fruit leather. Love you. 

Well transfers are upon us and I'm packing my bags today! I'm headed to Green Valley to be STLs with Sister Mayfield. I'm super excited to be her companion. I went on exchanges with her when she was in the Kingman/Havasu zone and she is dynamite. However I'm really sad to be leaving Sister Koyle and this wonderful ward :( I really thought I had more time. Thankfully President Snow tipped me off early that he'd be moving me so I had some time to prepare. Thinking back on my two transfers here, I truly feel like I've done my best. I've made mistakes, and my time was short, but I tried to work hard and I loved the people. My only regret is not being able to have the full 2 transfers with Sister K. Last night I wrote little notes and inside jokes on about 30 sticky notes and hid them in all of Sister Koyle's stuff, so she'll be finding little messages from me for a while ;) Sister Koyle's new companion is in her last transfer of her mission so Sister Koyle will be killing her off. :P Sister K will do great things in this area. The members love her and she knows her stuff, so she's prepared to lead.

(Mom, ohh man, to answer your question "did you feel like a mother bear..." I've never felt so much like a mother bear as I do with Sister Koyle! No one messes with Sister Koyle without getting through me!)
Oh, and they are working on getting her ticket reduced. So she should be ok :) 

This week Elder Clark of the seventy came and spoke to us in a mission-wide conference! It is in preparation for us getting iPads. The training was basically on anything BUT iPads, though... the training was about us. Heavenly Father spiritually created everything before it was physically created, and in the same way we need to be spiritually prepared before we receive this new tool. We are PURPOSE missionaries, not iPad missionaries! The iPads will just be a tool to help us invite others to come unto Christ. He really emphasized our eternal destiny and how our missions are preparing us for our families, for our marriages, for our careers... A mission is worth 100,000 dollars and we can't waste it. We can't let the experience go through us, it has to change us!

One thing they cautioned us to do is make it a habit not to get on an electronic device without having a purpose in mind. This is HUGE. How often do we whip out our smartphones or sit down at the computer without a specific purpose, just to find we've wasted an hour on Pinterest or YouTube? Not only does that waste time but it can be destructive and dangerous to wander. Never press a single button without first deciding what you're getting on to do and why. If 88,000 missionaries can make this a habit to take home, the world will be a much better place. That's something I want to make a habit of and I invite you all to try it out as well :)
Next week I'll send you my list of Green Valley investigators, but for now, please pray for Brissa, Patrick, David, Thalia, Juan and Joseph.
We had a little bit of a rollercoaster with David. On Wednesday he was really progressing. We had an amazing lesson with him where he told us that daily prayer was really helping him and that he FELT good. David does not like talking about feelings! But he was smiling all throughout the lesson! Then at Institute, they talked about church history and he got really confused. At our next lesson he dropped us and told us he doesn't believe Joseph Smith is a prophet. We tried our best to answer his questions but he had hardened his heart. Sunday morning he texted us apologizing and said he wants to continue investigating. We are going to take it slow with him.

I studied Alma 32 in depth for David and realized that there's a lot of prerequisites to gaining a testimony; a lot of controlled variables, like a science experiment. I'm not very good at scince but bear with me for a second. You first have to humble yourself, then you have to plant the seed and nourish it, not resist the Spirit of the Lord, and have diligence, patience, and long-suffering. The uncontrolled variable is the trials or obstacles that may come our way during the process. And the results you're looking for are what kind of fruit the experiment yields. If you do these things, seeking for a testimony, it will ALWAYS be good fruit! 

"I'm starting with the man in the mirror, I'm asking him to make the change..." 

Your inspirational thought of the day from Michael Jackson. 

This week, I finally followed my dreams and got a brazillian blowout! Just kidding. The next best thing is having a companion who can straighten and curl your hair in under 30 minutes. She taught me how to do it so now, as long as I can get my hands on a curling iron, i can do it myself! 20 here I come! :)

Sunrise Stake, lookin good as ever.

We celebrated our last Pday together today with peanut butter smoothies from tropical smoothie (my faaaaavorite place right now.) 

I LOVE YOU! And in honor of all the Spanish speakers in this area that I'm going to miss dearly... Te quiero mucho! Tenga un buen dia!  

Con mucho amor,
Sister Browning

Monday, May 18, 2015

Do It Because You Love the Savior!

Hi Family! 

It's thundering and lightning outside right now so I'mma type fast and hope the power doesn't go out! 

Well it sounds like this week was pretty challenging for you all, and I tell ya what, it was challenging across the board. Mom, I don't know how you feel trying to be the ringmaster for a circus of construction, projects, improvements and setbacks, but I can definitely relate to you on the exhaustion thing. Lately I've been feeling a lot more tired than a sister who hasn't been out a year should feel. I think that's one of Satan's biggest tricks-- just to make us feel like we have to give in to exhaustion. Joke's on you, Satan! We never have to give in! 

The week started out with a wonderful, spirit filled district meeting. Just as we were leaving Sister Koyle got landed with an $800 speeding ticket. Somehow neither of us noticed the school zone lights until a second after the cop clocked her speed. We got to sit there as all the missionaries, including our district leader, zone leaders, MSTLs, and one of the APs drove by. They've been teasing us about it ever since. Miracle 1: She gets to keep her license. Miracle 2: She gets to keep her driving privileges. Miracle 3: Neither of us cried. Miracle 4: We've got each other so we've been laughing about it all week. 

After he gave her the ticket, she gave him a mormon.org card. #fearless 

A lot of hilarious things happened this week. We've had some really great laughs. For example, I got proposed to again. Once again I turned the nice gentleman down. Sometimes I'm not sure we should give out so many cards with our phone number :P

 Shortly after this, we met a guy who looked like he was having a bad day so Sis K offered to say a prayer for him. In the middle of the prayer his buddy named Jpac interrupts by angrily speaking in, like, tongues....  "Shamabalakihokalaramabadofremada" and so forth. 

After about 10 bewildered seconds of this I say very sternly  "excuse me. My friend Sister Koyle was saying a prayer, do you mind if she finishes?"

He let her finish. 

Here's my focus 5 plus 1 for the week: Brissa, Patrick, David, Juan E, Karina, and Kenneth. Brissa is doing wonderfully!!! She is still on date for June 27th. Everyone else either missed their baptism date by not coming to church or didn't accept one. Patrick finally had work off this Sunday but slept late and missed sacrament meeting and half of Sunday school. He probably won't have a Sunday off again for awhile because he is military police. We're praying to know what the key is to helping him have a stronger desire to know the truth. He's been coming to activities, though, and he's got some great fellowshippers. David has been tricky to teach because his needs are different than anyone else I think I've ever taught. He was baptized when he was 15 and had his records removed a year later because of some anti that he found. Now 10 years later he is ready to investigate again. He has asbergers and doesn't like it when we ask him questions about how he feels. So trial and error, we've figured out how to have really effective lessons with him. On Friday we had a really great lesson with him about the Atonement. We are just waiting to find out if he can be baptized. 

We've also been witnessing a lot of sad and, well, just horrible things lately-- lots of accidents, violence and crime. We're definitely in Las Vegas. I won't re-hash everything that we've seen but it does take a toll on you. I think part of it is because we're missionaries and we're living so that we're close to the spirit; because of that everything we see kind of affects us personally. 

Amidst all this stuff I started to feel like, "Why can't I do something that will have a practical, lasting effect for the suffering people here?" Couldn't I please feed the homeless, stop crime, and stand up against domestic abuse? But as I read Preach My Gospel I remembered something very important: "You will help people most by teaching them the Gospel of Jesus Christ." As Ezra Taft Benson said, "only the gospel will save the world from the calamity of its own self-destruction. Only the gospel will unite men of all races and nationalities in peace. Only the gospel will bring joy, happiness, and salvation to the human family."  I know I am doing the most important thing I could be doing right now. 

On Saturday night at 8:00 we were walking through an apartment complex and met a woman named Stephanie. I've always heard stories about missionaries who got to randomly wash someone's car or help someone move but typically they see the skirts and won't let us help. We could see she was carrying some heavy boxes and we were pretty persistent, and she opened up to us. She told us that she was a single mother of two her husband had just left her, and she was trying to move from the front of the complex to an apartment in the back all by herself. She had a baby on the way and a sprained ankle and wasn't supposed to be lifting anything but didn't want to ask for help. We showed up at the exact right time. As we helped her move her belongings into her new apartment she told us that she was a strong Christian and knew God loved her and that she had a purpose but she didn't know exactly what it was. She was looking for a good group of women who were going to be loving and genuine friends. We had an hour with her just to listen to her, help her move, testify of those restored truths that she desperately needed, and help her feel her Savior's love. Before we left we gave her a Book of Mormon and said a prayer with her and her two kids for their first night in their new home. Thank you, little black name tag, for allowing me to help a stranger in a way I may never have otherwise. Serving Stephanie was one of the most fulfilling feelings I've ever had.

We were able to get priesthood blessings from our assistant ward mission leader on friday and they were incredible. I'm so grateful for the Priesthood. Neither of us had cried all week until those blessings. Mine was very specific and tailored to exactly what I needed. In my blessing I was directed that if I poured my heart into my studies and studied with real intent, then I would see my investigators' progression and their real intent. Each morning since that blessing I haven't let myself waste a minute of my personal study. My investigators' salvation depends on it!

For my 11 month mark, Sister K blew up 11 balloons and piled them on my study desk for me to find in the morning. Whatta keeper :) 

The Gospel is so simple and beautiful. I'm so grateful I get to share it. The Priesthood is real and has been restored to the earth. Even though I struggle I know I can keep trying. My invitation for you is to think of what the Savior does and "do likewise!" 

Love Always, Sister B

Monday, May 11, 2015

Finding New Investigators Juan by Juan

Hi Family!
Well, if face timing with you yesterday wasn't the best thing ever I don't know what is!! I have THE best family in the world. Minus the fact that the entire house looked different... It felt like I'd never left. I'm so grateful to be a missionary in the age where we don't have to rely solely on snail mail :)
It sounds like you are (literally and figuratively) surrounded with missionary opportunities right now!! The great thing about less active members is that they will never be dropped the way that missionaries often have to drop investigators who aren't progressing. Because these less active members have made covenants and "their names were taken," they will always have faithful home teachers and visiting teachers and loving ward members knocking on their door. And they've been given the gift of the Holy Ghost, so as soon as they start opening their doors, the Spirit will start testifying to them of what they need to do to have more joy. I will be praying for the Struhhss, Greg and Nikki, and the Kricks. Start planning a Christmas baptism for Scotty 'cause I'd love to be there. Haha ;)
Also if you talk to Autumn Struhhs please give her my email address! When I left she was thinking about serving a mission so maybe I can help her there a little.
Mom, if you finish Jesus the Christ, I'll finish Jesus the Christ! I've started at the beginning and gotten through the first four or five chapters! It's a race :) Each week I'll tell you a little something I learned and you can tell me what you learned!
Alrighty, here is my prayer list for this week: Patrick, Kenneth, Brissa, John, Maria, Pedro, Randy, John, Juan E, Juan G, Karina, Xareny, Austin, David, and Mark.
Our less active Xareny invited her sister Karina to take the lessons and we got to start teaching her! Tomorrow we are going over for her second lesson. They are feeding us dinner and then we're teaching them :) It's exciting to see Xareny come back and bring her family with her!
We seriously have an abundance of Juans right now. One potential Juan, one new investigator Juan, one progressing investigator Juan... we'll street contact one Juan and then go teach another Juan and it has become necessary to ask for each Juan's last name! There are so many "Juan"s saved in the phone that it causes Sis Koyle and I to sometimes cry, "which Juan is it??!" Juan by Juan we pray that they will all accept the Gospel.

P.S Read that paragraph out loud. Haha ;)
Something cool I forgot to tell you about over facetime is that I got to teach a lesson with Sister Luke to one of her formers! She was on exchanges with an STL in the area she was trained in. The sisters had re-found one of her investigators who has turned 18 and set up a pass-off lesson with us. His name is Mark. We got to meet Sister Defreitas and Sister Luke at the appointment and teach with them. It was super special because it was like Sister Luke's mission had come full circle. Mark has always struggled because his parents are not supportive of him investigating the church, but now he is an adult. We hope that this time around he will be able to get baptized :)

So this story would have been a lot funnier over facetime but I forgot... Sister K and I have way too many adventures with the whole "who-can-drink-the-most-water" thing. It keeps us healthy, but gets us into one or two predicaments. Here's Sister Koyle's take on the latest:

"This week I overflowed a toilet... My companion and I have been having a competition to see who can drink the most water each day (I win) and so we were walking around this apartment complex and all of a sudden I really had to go so we went into the leasing office and the lady let us use the bathroom outside by the pool, and so I go in and as I am washing my hands, I look over and water is pouring over the toilet so I jump back and open the door and go "Sister B.. slight problem. The toilet is overflowing!" she looks in and goes "what did you do in there?" We stood out there for 10 minutes trying to decide what to do because the office lady was kind of scary and she was in the middle of trying to sell an apartment and we didn't want to interrupt again.. so we did the only thing we could think of, closed the door and ran away! Safe to say we are done street contacting in that apartment complex!" 
Sister Koyle, ladies and gentlemen. :)
You basically already know everything else from my week sooooooooo.... here's some pictures!! 

Idaho girls can spot an Idaho plate!

Central Sunrise zone all in red at Zone Conference :) one of the most unified hard working zones I've been in.  Santillan, Souba, me, Koyle, Nelson, Cook, Roberts, and Stark, and all our silly elders.
Sister Koyle, my personal wardrobe consultant, didn't like the outfit I picked, so I changed... 
to look exactly like her. Better? ;) hahaha
I love you all so much! Thank you for being great missionaries at home and for supporting me :) I'm so grateful for my mission! So grateful that Heavenly Father trusts me to share the gospel with His children. He loves us and knows us. Jesus Christ loves us and knows all our quirks and struggles. He has paved the way for us to have everlasting happiness. I love the opportunity I have to build a more personal relationship with Him. I invite you all to do the same. He is always knocking at the door!!
Have a happy week! Love, Sister Browning 

Monday, May 4, 2015

"I knew God existed, but I didn't know He was present in my life."

--Ehidy, bearing her testimony for the first time in sacrament meeting yesterday :) She is amazing!
Dear Family,
Well the weeks all blur together but from what I can remember about this one, it was really good! We got to do an endowment session with all the new missionaries and trainers, the APs and MSTLs and Pres & Sis Snow. The Las Vegas temple might be my favorite temple in the world. Sorry Idaho Falls.  
I'm so grateful and touched that you all took the time to memorize my investigator's names and pray for them!! Do I have the best family in the universe?! Thank you thank you thank you! Prayer list for the week: Patrick, Kenneth, Brissa, John, Britney, Juan, Randy, and Karina. Oh and Pedro.
Patrick is still struggling to get work off but we finally got him in the church!! And had an amazing lesson with him. We really feel that church will do the trick for him. We taught Brissa the easiest law of chastity and word of wisdom lesson I think I've ever taught. She has been Mormon her whole life and just didn't know it.
So you're right, Juan is new, we found him this week. The first time we talked to him in his driveway he asked us practically every question of the soul found in Chapter 5 of preach my gospel. Guess what, Juan? All your questions can be answered with the Book of Mormon! He came to church on Sunday and then to the devotional/break the fast afterward. With some heavenly help he will be baptized at the end of the transfer!
Our less active friend Xareny invited her sister Karina to sit in on a missionary lesson with us and we picked her up as a new investigator! This is a huge deal because Xareny was baptized 3 years ago and Karina has never once been in a missionary lesson. This week we'll go back and teach her the Restoration. We are so excited to see what happens :)
I can't even describe Randy over email... He is too hilarious to type about... Ask me about him when we Skype.
Saturday night there was a huge boxing match on the strip that everyone was watching. The tickets were thousands of dollars and it even cost $100 just to watch it on your TV. We were able to still teach a lesson to Juan during it though. He wanted us to teach him outside so we sat on his driveway and taught on a cul de sac lined up and down with cars. I was praying so hard that noise from people watching the game in their houses wouldn't disrupt the Spirit and the lesson and prayers answered, no interruptions! Once we got to the end of the lesson a bunch of people started yelling at each other in Spanish so we figured that was our cue to wrap up. Haha 

Funny story of the week: The weather is starting to heat up, so Sister Koyle & I have been having a competition to see who can drink the most water in a day. One day I got 103 ounces, no big deal. On one of these days Sister K had just been guzzling it, and we'd had no time to stop for a bathroom break... we get out of a lesson and are on our way to another one at the church. She is holding my hand and breathing like she's in labor as she drives up the hill to the church... I'm busting a gut laughing, which is making her mad because if she laughs, she will pee, she pulls into the parking lot like she's on fast & the furious and sprints into the church building... right past a very confused stake president and his wife. No time for niceties when you have a full bladder! :) 

Vegas streets have crazy names. We found Pooh Corner. POOH BEAR <3

Central/Sunrise zone at ZTM. These are some great servants of the Lord! Serving around a lot more sisters than before, and it's fun :) 

New missionary temple day with Pres & Sis Snow! I love Sis Koyle so much!

Sister Luke and I had a really special moment in the celestial room after the session. She finishes her mission in two weeks. It's hard to think about being in the mission without her but it's okay 'cause we will be best friends into the eternities. She has changed my life! 

I'd attach more pictures but this computer is slow and you've got the gist of my week. :) I love you all!!
Favorite scripture of the week: D&C 64:33. "Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of great work.And out of small things proceedeth that which is great. Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and willing mind..."
Love, Sister Browning