Monday, May 30, 2016

Making it through the humidity and heat- I can do this!

Sister Bray and Me
Emailing from our Apartment office

Happy Memorial Day!! 

I hope y'all have a wonderful day today. Today we have sisters P-day and we are having our ward mission leaders friend, he's an FBI agent, come teach us some self-defense. It's bad to wish for it, but maybe I can use it someday. Maybe I will on Mike, Chris or Ty... Hehe watch out. 

Well this week has been pretty crazy. First off, the sun finally came out. I'm slightly praying for rain again because holy cow, it's so humid. We walk outside and we are already sweating and sticky. It's miserable. It's nice though because getting ready is completely pointless, so getting ready in the morning takes about 5 minutes. Only 3-4 for months of this... I can do it haha.

Here's a cool little miracle, last Sunday, this lady who lives right across from the church, her name is Kim, came and talked to our bishop and asked if missionaries (she met with missionaries about 8 years ago) would be able to come over to her house and help her organize her house and also teach her. Our ward mission leader told us about it and we decided to go meet her after church. (Thank goodness it was in our area and not the elders haha) Well, she wasn't home, so we decided to try her a little later. About two days passed and we decided to try her again. She was home! She asked if we could help her organize her house and teach her. (That doesn't happen every day so of course we jumped on the opportunity).

We had interviews with President on Thursday.  It’s sad to think that is the last one we will ever have with him because he is leaving July 1. It's crazy we only have one more month with him. It's sad :(. But interviews were great and after, we went and helped Kim clean and did a little lesson with her. She was planning on having a garage sale on Saturday, so we told her we would come help, perfect way to talk to people as well. Saturday rolled around and when we arrived at her house, she told us she wasn't having a garage sale anymore because she didn't feel prepared.  She ask if we could please have a lesson with her. We went over a little of the restoration again and then she brought up the Word of Wisdom. She told us she doesn't drink, she likes tea but stopped drinking it last week, loves her coffee but she is willing to substitute hot chocolate instead. She is a HEAVY smoker. She said she has really tried to quit, so this will be really good for her. She needed to go to the "bathroom”, we know it was just to smoke. But she came back and said she took two puffs of the cigarette and it was such a gross taste and she never wanted anymore of it. Holy cow was that a miracle. Out of nowhere she asks, "what do I need to do to be baptized? I want to so bad." We were completely shocked and explained what she needed to do. She is totally on board with it. She wants to try to work towards getting baptized next Sunday, but we will see if that will work out. She told us she would come to church yesterday, but she never did.... We tried to see her throughout the day and see if she was okay, but she was never home. We are meeting with her tomorrow. She is coming to dinner with us at our ward mission leader’s house and we will teach her there.

With our investigator, Kim
Speaking of our ward mission leader, holy cow he is amazing!! Let me paint a little picture of what he looks like. He is in his late 40's and has a body exactly like Hunter McArthur. He is TALL and SO SKINNY. He is a crazy runner. He runs about 100 miles a week. This weekend, He is running a 100 mile race. This is his third time doing it. His goal is to get in under 24 hours. He is nuts. Any way, he is so amazing. He calls us every single night to see how we are doing and how our day went. He cares so much about our investigators and always opens his house up to them and us to teach them. We tell him all the set appointments we have for the week and he will get members out for us and coordinate things for us. He makes things so much easier for us. He is so sweet. 

Another cool miracle, the first week I was here, I was on exchanges with one of the Hermanas. I was looking through our area book, where the list of all the people that the missionaries have taught are written, and seeing if anyone lived close by. There was this girl named Kasey, but she was dropped. Meaning the missionaries stopped teaching her. We decided to go check her out. She told us she would love to meet with us! We tried back a few times after that but no one was ever home. We tried back earlier this week and met her husband, Graham. We taught him and he said that he was so interested and wanted to learn more. He invited us over the following night to talk to him and his wife more. We were on exchanges that night and I was in the sisters area so I wasn't able to be at the lesson. But Sister Bray said the lesson went so well. They asked what they needed to do to be baptized and come to church. They are super solid. We then went over Saturday night to remind them about church and to see how they were doing. They were so excited and "totally interested in learning more." Well... As you can guess, they didn't come either. So that was frustrating. But we are meeting with them again this week. Hopefully it goes well. 
Yesterday was really sad and frustrating. We had 6 solid investigators tell us they were coming to church and were so excited. Only one ended up showing up. He was one of our member’s boyfriend. It was so cool he came, but it was sad not having all our solid people come. Maybe next week they will come to church. 

Can you believe it??  Transfer calls are already this weekend. Ahh. It's crazy how fast it goes. 

Scripture of the week: 2 Nephi 2:22-25. We have taught and I have studied a little about Adam and Eve this week. It is so amazing to know that God has a plan for everything. I am grateful for this wonderful plan that God has created and I am so grateful for the time I have to be with my family forever. There isn't anything better than that. 

I love y'all so much!! I hope you're summer break goes so well and y'all do so many fun things. (Not too much fun though ;) ) 

Love Sister Brooks :)

On exchanges with Sister Jenson 

It was so hot we had to get slushie
A less-active's backyard. It's so perfect

We just took a ton of pictures. . . . . . . . .

Monday, May 23, 2016

Obedience brings blessings. Exact obedience brings miracles!!

Happy Emailing Day!
My favorite people ever!!!!!

Okay, I know I say this like every week, but holy cow this week went by so fast and we were extremely busy!! We were able to see many more miracles and set 4 new people on date. I don't know how solid they really are, but we will see how it all works out. 

We had a sister’s meeting this week. We had all the sisters in Fredericksburg, Northern Virginia, get together and we had trainings from President and Sister Wilson and also the Wilson’s daughter, Elizabeth, the return missionary  Sister Bray and two other sisters in our zone sang a special musical number. It's called "Gethsemane". It is a new song they put in the friend a while ago, but wow I love it, gives me chills every time. I love going to meetings and learning more and getting more inspiration. We talked about how we need to have more charity toward others, how we need to obey God and walk His path and then how we can find strength beyond our own and rely on God to help us and give us strength . It was what I needed. I never realized how much I needed to rely on God. This is His work. I am just His instrument and His mouthpiece. Things will happen according to His will and He has prepared and has people ready for us to teach and share the gospel with. We just need to find them! As the Richmond Virginia mission, we are taught to always expect miracles, but we can't receive or find them if we aren't working hard and being obedient. Obedience brings blessings. Exact obedience brings miracles!!

I was able to go on two exchanges this week. I stayed in my area both times. The first one, I went with Sister Fox. She is such a cute girl. We had so much fun and I was able to learn a lot more about her! Then I went with Sister Tadd. Man it was so fun being with her again. I sure miss being with her, but I love how she is in my zone and I'm able to be with her more. Yay :) I love being able to exchange with the sisters and get to know them and learn from them.  I have made so many wonderful friendships that will last a lifetime and I'm so happy I've been able to meet so many wonderful sisters! 

Exchanges with Sister Fox

Exchanges with Sister Tadd. . . 

We had a few wonderful miracles this week. . . . 

First, we have this cool couple we are teaching named Micah and Marisa Briggs. They are middle aged. We were teaching them earlier this week and had a wonderful lesson. The spirit was really in their home. They have 15 people living in their home- kids and grandkids. They are such amazing people with open and sweet hearts. We talked to them about our church and how we do things. Micah, the husband, was asking us if we shouted and danced at church and how we do things. We told him how our church worked and how we had it organized. He LOVED it and said that he felt like it really suited him. We invited them to be baptized and extended a date for them to work towards. They happily agreed and Micah opened his Book of Mormon to a random page. He opened to Alma 16. He said if he knew it was true and we got him to Alma 16, he would be baptized. Marisa is totally on board with it as well. We gave them a little schedule on where they need to be each day to reach his goal. We also told him we would study and read the Book of Mormon with him during our personal study. He sadly didn't come to church yesterday.  We aren't sure why.  They told us Saturday night they were coming and were excited about it. But we will find out and hopefully they will still work toward their date. 

We were also able to get a guy named Wes on date for baptism. He has met with missionaries a few times and dated a Mormon girl in Utah a while back. He knows it's a sign from God that he needs to be more religious and maybe this is the church for him. He has very sad and poor living conditions. He lives with his wife and kids in an old run down trailer and is currently losing his eye sight, but he is so humble. 

We visited Angelique, the lady who said the "spiritual prayer" I talked about last week. To give you more background with her-- She is 45 years old, she says she is pregnant with triplets and is around 7 months along, but it just looks like she had a lot of food to eat for dinner. We aren't sure if she is all there... Haha her "husband" is gone because he works for the government. She has no idea where he is, what he is doing or when he will be home. Something is a little off there. Haha but Sister Tadd and I went to see her. We talked a lot about temples and how our family can be together forever. She LOVED the pictures of the temples we showed her and really liked the idea of being sealed to her, "hunny" forever. We invited her to be baptized as well. Sister Tadd invited her to be baptized on June 5. She got excited and told us that was her birthday and she would love to then.  Again, I don't know how serious she is about or truly understands what it is.. But we will work on her.

We received a referral from Nauvoo about 2 weeks ago. He was in contact with the missionaries there and requested a Bible and Book of Mormon and they were going to mail it to him. Long story short, we called him and he told us he wasn't interested in meeting with missionaries, but he was having his books sent and wanted to read them first. We talked to our mission secretary last week and were asked if we had seen him.  We told her about our conversation with him and she said he has been talking with the missionaries in Nauvoo saying he wanted to meet with missionaries. We were so confused but we called him again and set up a time to meet with him. We met with him this week at a restaurant with one of our members. The missionaries from Nauvoo sent the restoration video, some pamphlets and the Bible and he was able to watch the video and read some other material. They didn't send him a Book of Mormon so we gave him one. He was very interested. He is trying to learn new religions and see which one is for him. The member we brought was so good. She testified about the Book of Mormon and how he needs to read and pray about it to see if it is for him. She was incredible. Members are the best!!! He wants to read and study a little more before he meets with us again. I'm sure it will happen soon. You sure can't deny this wonderful gospel!! 

Scripture of the week: 1 Samuel 16:7. It says how man looks on the outward appearance of others, while God looks on the heart. I've really have been trying to look at others how Jesus Christ would. He doesn't have any judgments or negative thoughts about anyone. I know if I love those I serve, teach and are around and really look at them the way Jesus Christ does, I'll be able to see their strengths and their good instead of the negative and I will grow to love them so much more. 

I love y'all so much!! I can't believe graduation is this week and school will be out. Man time flies by so fast!! Have a wonderful week!!!! 

Love Sister Brooks! 

Goofing off :)

I love Virginia Trees!

Little Thomas.  He reminds me so much of Dayten.
 I think that's why I love him so much!
Stanley Family

With Jesse.  I love her!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Great Morning! Amazing Week!

Emailing at our apartment office

Happy Monday (P-day)!

I hope y'all had an amazing week! It sure was a good one for us this week! We were able to see so many miracles and have quite a few members out with us. (I also don't know how I don't have a six pack yet because I have laughed way too much this week.) It's so important to work with members and have them at the lessons because, as missionaries, we won't be here forever, but the members of our ward will, so bringing them and having them fellowship with our investigators is so important. We have had some pretty funny experiences as well this week. 

Monday, we had a mission clean day. (Best idea ever and it was one of the Elder’s idea) We were talking about it at MLC and one of the Elder’s suggested we all take a Monday to clean our apartments and cars. Well, this transfer, we moved into the Elder’s apartment.(Obviously the Elders moved out)  It wasn't as bad as I thought, but it was still kind of gross- like the gross little hairs when they shave... Yeah all over in the drawers. It was gross. Well we were super happy about cleaning and definitely took advantage it. We SCRUBBED the whole apartment. Deep cleaned carpets, fridge, under the sink (I don't know how long there was a leak, but the water was black and I had to step outside or I would be cleaning my throw up as well. Huge hooray for Sister Bray for not having a gag reflex.!!!!!!!!!!) She's a rock star. Anyway, as we were walking out of our apartment to throw away trash, I picked up a big paper bag with sick, nasty, old food and you wouldn't believe what happened. Yep, it was soggy and it broke. A big glass jar of olives fell straight on my foot and broke and it ended up ALL over the carpet that I deep cleaned. I cried a little inside. After cleaning it up and being super mad, my foot and carpet ended up being OK.
Mission Clean Day. Thank goodness!  #eldersaregross :)
Monday night we didn't have any set lessons so we decided to try some potentials- people who have met or have received a lesson before. We were able to have 3 lessons back to back. The coolest one was a middle aged man named Matt. He met with missionaries about 3 months ago and they gave him a Book of Mormon. He sounded like a nice guy and seemed pretty interested so we decided to go visit him. When we arrived at his house, he wasn't home :( His roommate answered and she told us that he usually gets home around 9:30, which is a bummer because we have to be in by 9. We talked to her a little and then a truck pulled up. Confused, she said that it was him pulling into the drive way. We walked over to him and started asking him when he met with missionaries and he was so confused. He told us he had never met with missionaries before and has never heard or seen anything to do with the Book of Mormon. It's either he was not all there when the last missionaries came by or he really needed to be seen. But we explain what the Book of Mormon was and what our church is. He started telling us he doesn't like organized religion because it's all about the money. We went on to tell him that we don't get paid, it's all voluntary.  He LOVED that!! He just kept saying why he didn't like religion and everything he said, we had something to say on why we don't do it. He was very impressed and "intrigued". He said he would come to church, but sadly he didn't :( We hope to see him soon though. 

I was able to go on exchanges with Hermana Rodriguez. 
Me and Hermana Rodriguez. (It was early in the morning)
The Crew!
  Hermana Stewart, next to me, is the one knows Barry.
Hermana Rodriguez just came here from temple square about 2 weeks ago. She is so cute. She had shoulder surgery a few months before she came on her mission and wasn't able to finish physical therapy so she was hurting a little. She called the "mission Doctor" and he suggested to go to a chiropractor. I was fortunate enough to be with her when she did. He is a member of the church and his daughter just left on her mission 3 weeks ago. (He helps missionaries for free) And even cooler, his name was Dr. Brooks! Woot woot. He adjusted her and afterwards looked at me and asked if I wanted to as well. Of course I did. Well, it was amazing and my back and neck felt AMAZING afterwards. He was amazed on how off my hips were and legs. He asked if I had any major pain.  I said I had aches every once in a while but not bad. He was amazed I wasn't in pain every day. I didn't know it was that bad haha but boy did it feel good. GOD IS GREAT AND WATCHES OVER MISSIONARIES SO THEY DON'T HURT. YAY!

We met with one of our less actives roommates this week. Sister Bray has taught him before and she felt like it would be a good time to see him again. We had a lesson with him and he was really excited to hear the message of the restoration. He works night shifts at a gas station so it's really hard to find a time to meet because he is usually sleeping, but he woke up to meet with us. Of course, we invited him to be baptized and he totally agreed. He accepted a date and everything. We just hope and pray he can get Sunday's off and continues to progress and meet with us. 

We were out walking around a neighborhood around 8:00 one night. We were, of course, talking to everybody that we saw. We saw this guy smoking on his driveway and talking on the phone. He told us to go knock on the garage door and talk to the people inside. We did. This old, I mean old, lady answered the door and we talked a little and she wasn't interested at all. So we started walking away and the guy on the phone stopped us and asked what we were doing. We explained and we introduced ourselves and he introduced himself as Brother Billy. It was funny. We started talking to him and explaining what we believe and a brief restoration lesson. He really liked it and wants to learn more. He was in Pennsylvania yesterday so he wasn't able to come to church. But we are meeting with him tonight and will be teaching him. He is an FBI agent. 

Okay, two of the funniest stories, (you might be crying cause I sure was) . . . . 
So we had a lesson with this African lady. After the lesson, Sister Bray says the prayer and we start to get up to leave. She asks if she can say a spiritual prayer. We look at each other and were like, sure I guess. So she kneels down and asks us to cover her. We were so confused. We put our hands on her back and she started saying this weird chant all in another language. We had a member with us and we were all confused and weirded out, well it gets worse. I had to sneeze REALLY bad and her head was on my lap. My nose started to itch and I was trying to hold the sneeze so bad. I lost it and started to giggle a little, Sister Bray and the member were trying to hold in their laugh. Finally after what seemed like 5 minutes, she got up and boy did that sneeze come out. It was so refreshing. The prayer was very interesting to say the least. 

So we were teaching this 17 year old girl on her door step. She was very sassy. She asked about the 3 degrees of glory and said she didn't understand why we had 3 kingdoms in heaven. We started to explain the reasoning and explain to her that in 1 Corinthians it explains it as well. She snapped back at us and told us "I know the bible and I didn't read that, it's not in there." We slowly started to wrap the lesson up. She then told us she was sorry for saying “WHAT?” so many times. She was deaf in one ear. Next thing I know, Sister Bray whispers, "sorry". The girl gave her the most confused look and of course I lost it and started laughing so hard. 

It sure was a really funny and week full of miracles!! 

So what made my morning so great?  Michael and Christa Hinton (friends from my hometown of Santa Clara, Utah) were in town and took Sister Bray and Me to breakfast at Ihop.  I had so much fun with them!!!  They are way too sweet and it is definitely a highlight of the month for me. Thank you Michael and Christa!!!!!!

Scripture of the week: Alma 32:26- Faith has been something I have really learned and have increased my knowledge on. I really have to have faith in Christ that he will lead me to those who need to hear the gospel and that He does have a plan for me. Faith is so much more than I thought it was. It has been so fun to increase my faith in our Savior, Jesus Christ and know if it's His will, it will happen. 

I love y'all so much, I hope you have an amazing week and enjoy the last few days of school!! Woohoo :) 

Love Sister Brooks :) 

Photo Shoot time. . . . 

After a crazy five minute rainstorm on Saturday,
 it was a pretty rainbow.
Selfie after church

Monday, May 9, 2016

Baptisms aren't planned this way! :) :)

Sister Jensen, Sister Leavitt, Me, and Sister Bray 
(I came out with Sister Jensen)
We are emailing in the lobby/office of our apartments.

Hello hello!!! 

It was so fun talking (Skyping) with y'all on Mother’s Day yesterday!! Thank you so much for making my day so special. I sure do have the best family, and the most AMAZING MOM in the whole wide world!!! I am so grateful for the amazing support and love that I receive from y'all. Thank you :)

This week has been very good. Monday we had a baptism and oh boy... It was literally the funniest thing. Almost everything that could go wrong did. But it all worked out and Marissa was baptized!! Marissa is 14 years old. Her dad married a member a few years ago and last September the dad was baptized and around February, her little brother Thomas was baptized. So she was the only one left, but her parents wanted it to be her decision. So, our ward mission leader was supposed to go fill up the font around 5:30. The Baptism was at 7:30. We were going to head over around 6:30 and start setting things up. We don't have a font at our building so Sister Bray starts driving to another church building about 20 minutes away. As we drive there, I'm trying to call and text our ward mission leader to see how things are going and tell him we are on our way... But no response. We get there and Sister Bray said, "Oh no, I drove to the wrong church building." We got in the car and start heading to the other building. Our phone battery is flashing, we start freaking out because we still have to get a hold of people. We call our ward mission leader’s wife, praying our phone doesn't die, and she starts freaking out and told us he went to take a quick nap after work and still hadn't woke up! Well, the baptism starts in about 30 minutes and it takes about 2 hours to fill up the font. Our ward mission leader finally called us and said he could not get a hold of the elders, they are the ones with the keys... So we called a few of our sisters (Sister Tadd saves the day)  and they had keys and opened the church for us. But, (haha) they didn't have keys to the font. Our ward mission leader called a few people to have them come open it for us. Well, long story short, we had to feel garbage cans with water to help the process go faster. The baptism ended up starting around 8:00, thank goodness, because Marissa and her family were late. Marissa didn't tell anyone she was being baptized and wanted a really small baptism. We were walking to the font area and we passed the boys bathroom and heard water going. We walked inside and a trash can was in the sink and the bathroom was FLOODED!!!!! No one told us they put a trash can there. So we had a nice mess to clean up afterwards. We started the baptism and at the last minute, Marissa freaked out and told us she was too nervous. We didn't take that for an answer. We talked to her and jokingly (but we were dead serious) told her we would pick her up and take her if we had to. Haha but in the end, she was baptized and was confirmed yesterday!! I am so proud of her :) After the baptism we got in the car and looked at our phone, thinking it would be completely dead because it was beeping for 2 hours saying low battery. Well it wasn't, it had two bars... We don't understand that one. All I know is God has a sense of humor. Hahaha, it definitely is really funny now!! Good memory. 

Wednesday we had MLC (missionary leadership council). It’s when the STLS and the Zone Leaders get together and get trainings from President and Sister Wilson, the AP's and we had a special guest! President and Sister Wilson's daughter arrived home from her mission on Tuesday night, so she was able to come to our meeting on Wednesday morning, and she was still a missionary (she had not been released yet)! She is so darling and way way fun to talk to. The trainings that we were given were the topics we would be training and giving at zone meeting. So yay me, I got to train at zone meeting. I talked about the importance of working with members. I have come to realize how important it really is on my mission. Members are EVERYTHING in our work. As missionaries, we are here to help the ward do THEIR missionary work. We have been trying get a lot of members out to lessons and have them tract with us. Our ward is VERY receptive to coming out with us. It's so amazing! 

It's a tradition to play speed at lunch during meetings. 
The girl holding the ball in the middle is "Sister Wilson" President's daughter. 
She got home from her mission on Tuesday night. 
 The sisters I went down to the meeting with. 
Of course we had to stop by Cafe Rio on the way home. 
I was able to go on my first exchange as an STL. I was with Hermana Schmactenberger and we stayed in MY area. She is darling. She has only been out for 2 weeks now and holy, you wouldn't even be able to tell! I had way too much fun with her and got to know her more. I love getting to know all these new sisters and learning from them. You really gain so many relationships and new friends! 

We received a call randomly one evening as we were trying some potentials. It was a gentleman in another ward calling us and telling us about this middle aged couple, probably in their 40-50's, Bob and Lori Hoyt. They aren't members but they have family who is and a nephew who went on a mission and they know that people feed the missionaries and wanted to know how they could do that. He passed our number to them and we arranged to have dinner with them on Saturday. Holy cow!! It was a feast and SO good. They are the sweetest people ever and will do anything for us. They aren't interested in learning about the gospel right now, but hopefully they soften their hearts soon, and it sure didn't stop us from sharing a message :) they are one of our good friends now. They even sent us home with a big bag of food!! 

We have been able to see a lot of wonderful miracles and teach many lessons this week. I am so grateful for the wonderful blessing I have to be out on a mission and serve my Heavenly Father and help others come and learn more about Him and our Savior, Jesus Christ. 

Scripture of the week: 1 Corinthians 3:16-17- God has given us each amazing bodies. We need to treat them like a temple, well because they are, and let the spirit of God dwell in us. Don't harm our body, take care of it and show God how much you truly appreciate his wonderful creation! 

I LOVE YOU ALL SO SO SO MUCH!!!!!!!! Have a wonderful week. 

Love Sister Brooks :)

Sister Bray and I before the rain and. . . .
. . . . after us being in the rain for probably 5 seconds. It's been raining all week. 

Mom wasn't this a nickname of yours?
 I swear I remember Uncle Glen calling you this!