Monday, August 29, 2016

Sister J is transferring! :(


We're having a lot of fun emailing from the church today.
We can't stop laughing!
We had to make the best of our last day together!

Hello my dearest family :)

   I hope y'all had a wonderful week! I know I sure did. Every week of being a missionary is the best week ever. I can't tell you how lucky and blessed I am. I am amazed every single day. I am so lucky :) 

   Here is the really sad news..... Sister Johnsen is getting transferred. We didn't really see it coming, it totally blind sided us. When we got out of our lesson on Saturday evening and saw a missed call from the AP's, we weren't very happy. I sure am going to miss her. I have learned so much from her and truly love her. Thank goodness she is coming down to Dixie again for school, so we can hang out all the time. 

    Our investigator Shaquan is doing so amazing!! We have had some really good lessons with him. He had a problem with the Word of wisdom, but when we saw him on Saturday, he told us he had been sober for almost 4 days! He then went to say that he didn't need drugs to get high, because he never realized or remembered how happy you could be when you are sober. That definitely is amazing to hear as a missionary. I love when people receive answers to their prayers and can feel they need a change in life and then see the blessings that come from the change! Shaquan is still trying to receive answers about if he needs to be baptized, but we all know he will get there and receive his answers. Every time we see him, our lessons get more productive and we can see that he is grasping the principles we teach more. We probably had the funniest and best law of chastity with him this week as well and that NEVER happens. That lesson is such an important lesson, but boy is it extremely awkward sometimes.  Everybody loves Shaquan. He came to church yesterday and it took us forever just to see him because so many people were talking to him. I love this ward because they sure know how to fellowship our investigators and bring them in. 

This is everyone who attended the lesson with Shaquan.
After the lesson, we went out for ice cream. 

    We met this guy named Moin on campus. This particular day, I feel like we ran into a lot of Muslims. Muslims have a strong belief that Jesus Christ was a prophet and they are very firm in that belief and try to convince us sometimes. We were kind of getting irritated because no one would listen to us. We then ran into Moin. Moin has a Muslim background, but hasn't been too involved. He is super open to learning about Christianity. He told us he would meet with us and wanted some of his questions answered. We had an amazing lesson with him the other night. We had one of our members come with us (another great thing about this ward is that most of the people are return missionaries, even the girls!! Moin came with lots of questions for us and wanted to know a lot about the godhead. We were able to explain it and help him understand the difference with Christianity and Muslim faith. We even explained how our message is unique to the world. He seemed very involved and wanted to learn more and more. He is very intelligent. It was cool to see how open a Muslim person was and be open to other faiths. 

   We have been able to find some really amazing and solid people while contacting. Now that school has started, it's a lot easier to find people, but there are SO many people. We really have to follow the promptings of the spirit to see who we really need to talk to. It's cool to see these people make life changes and want to gain a better relationship with our Savior Jesus Christ. I am so happy to be building my relationship with Him and our Father in Heaven. I can honestly say I feel so much happier now because I have developed more of a relationship with Him. I know I don't understand how much He REALLY does love me, but the love I feel from Him each and every day is overwhelming!! I know we have a loving Heavenly Father that loves YOU so much. Don't ever forget that. 

Funny things that happened this week:
-Before every lesson, we like to sing to bring the spirit in. As we were doing so, Sister J's voice cracked real loud. The song stopped there. Haha 

-We were on VCU campus talking to someone and having a lesson and a squirrel fell out of the tree behind us.

-People's road rage here is ridiculous. This guy cut someone off and they beeped at him. So at the stop light, the guy who cut the other guy off put his car in park and ran over to the other guy’s car and started punching it and yelling at him. 

-During our law of chastity lesson with Shaquan, he randomly looked at us and said "oops, Sisters I just broke the law of chastity, I looked at a girl." We then explained it all over again. 

Those are just a few things that we thought were funny this week.

Scripture of the week: Doctrine and Covenants 90:24- "Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good, if ye walk uprightly and remember the covenant wherewith ye have covenanted one with another." I truly know if we read our scriptures, pray and believe that God will answer us and watch over us, that things will work out for us. It all starts with the simple and easy things. I have come to see and realize on my mission, that once someone starts slacking off on the simple things, saying prayers every day, reading and attending church each Sunday, that's when life starts getting bumpy for them. It takes time to sit down and read your scriptures, but you won't regret it at all. You can receive answers, learn more about the gospel and just show God that you care. 

I love y'all so much. I hope you have a fantastic week :) ahh, I can't believe it will be September. CRAZY! 

Love Sister Brooks :) 

Katherine, I love her.
It's picture overload because we took pictures for Sister Johnsen's goodbye.
This is Cristian, the elders recent convert. 
Junior, he was baptized a few weeks before it got here. 

Katie and Haley 
Our recent convert, Marcus

The Squad
 Pool queens 

When she hits the 8 ball in and I win. :)
Somebody parked their car like this next to ours (ours is on the right) 
We had a nice dent in the front 
This is what we do at night :)

Monday, August 22, 2016

Fantastic Week!! Students are BACK on Campus!

Emailing from the church- our second home ;)
Hello :)

Wow, I can't believe it's Monday already. Time is seriously flying by and going so fast. The weeks are over in a blink of an eye. I can't believe transfer calls are this Saturday. I literally just got here and I can't believe it's time for the calls already. I hope and pray Sister Johnsen and I get to be with each other for one more transfer. I am excited to tell you about the fantastic week I have had. 

   Last Monday we had Zone p-day. There is a zoo in our zone and members own it, so we took advantage of that and went to the zoo. We were able to feed the giraffes and birds. It was seriously one of the hottest days and we were all dripping wet from sweat by the time we got in our car. But it seriously was a lot of fun :) We then went back to the church and had a BBQ. Wow, it was so good, It reminded me of all the holiday parties we have.  Nothing is better than a nice, grilled hamburger. Haha ! While we were at the church, we played some sports of course. This zone p-day was a lot of fun and it was fun being with our zone some more and getting to know them. 

Zoo time lapse :)

   Monday night at family home evening, we said goodbye to Missy. She has officially gone back to Virginia Tech. I am going to miss her so much and seriously am so excited for her. She is planning on getting baptized on September 3. She hopefully will email me and send me pictures and I'll have to send them to you once she gets baptized. I am seriously so excited and happy for her. I love Missy so much. 

    We met this guy named Adrian a few weeks back. He was moving in and we stopped him as he was making a trip back to his truck to get more things. We told him who we were and he was really interested. We met with him this week and it went so well. We brought a recent convert named Alex to our lesson and they connected really well. Alex explained his conversion story and how he needed to quit doing a lot of things but how it was so worth it. It really helped Adrian put into perspective how other people are going through challenges like him and how he can overcome them. Alex was a really great help and really fellowshipped him well. 

    Okay, this story is amazing. We had a lesson with Shaquan. I can't remember if I have told you about him. Katherine came with us; she is Alex's girlfriend that introduced him to the church. We were planning on talking about some of the commandments but the spirit sure told us otherwise and we talked about God’s love. Shaquan bluntly asked us, "does God love me? I feel like He doesn't and I don't know how y'all recognize that He does." It was so sad to see that one of God’s children didn't even know or feel His love. We then had a SUPER powerful lesson and talked about how much God loves each and every one of us. During the lesson, Sister J, Katherine, and I were teary eyed because we could feel the spirit so so strong and we could truly feel the love that our Heavenly Father had for Shaquan.  Shaquan said such a sincere prayer at the end and really asked God if He was there, if He loved him, and if He could tell him why. It was so cool to see how sincere he was and how he truly wanted to know if God did love him.

We were talking with Katherine after the lesson with Shaquan and thanking her for bearing such a powerful testimony and helping us bring the spirit in. She looked at us all seriously and said, "Sisters, I just had a prompting to go on a mission." We sat there not knowing what to say. We were so shocked, happy, excited and we were speechless! Finally we all just broke into tears and cried. Katherine is 24 years old but has always had a mission in the back of her mind. She went off a really deep path a few years back and knew it wasn't the time then. We encouraged her to go home and read her patriarchal blessing. She texted us that night and told us she never really realized it, but it said right in her patriarchal blessing that she was going to serve a mission. We are super excited for her and hope she continues on the path of being a representative of Jesus Christ!! 

   It's been really nice, students started moving in on Saturday so campus is PACKED!! Yay, finally!!!  It is nice because we get to talk to so many more people and teach so many  more lessons. We have a ton of new potential investigators which is so awesome :) School starts this week, so we are going to be extremely busy! I can't wait; it's going to be a fantastic week! 

   Ryan update: he is great, he has been praying about getting baptized and he told us he knows he needs to and he wants to, he just doesn't know when. He won't set a specific date yet, but he is still working towards being baptized. Ryan went to the Philadelphia Temple open house on Saturday with our ward. He texted us that night and said, "SISTERS!! The temple was RAD!" It was so awesome to get that text from him and of course we were one happy set of sister missionaries. They got home late last night and so he didn't wake up in time for church sadly. We texted him after church to see if we could meet with him that evening. He told us he is going through some things right now and wants to take a break to figure things out. It wasn't very fun hearing that. We don't know what's going on or anything. But he said he will get back with us in a few days to let us know if he is still interested or not. We have been praying for him like crazy. Ryan is so prepared and has so much potential, we just hope he continues to meet with us and wants to learn more. 

Scripture of the week: Alma 56:56- this is about when the two thousand stripling warriors surround the Lamanites. This verse describes how none of them were slain because they had the strength of God. I love when it says, "yea, and they had fought as if with the strength of God; yea, never were men known to have fought with such miraculous strength;". I truly know if we put our trust and our strength in God, we can get through anything. Good days, bad days, God is right there with us. We can have his strength and use it to overcome our everyday trials. I know we can have that "miraculous" strength and not fall when hard times come; just like the stripling warriors did as they were fighting the Lamanites. 

I love y'all so much. Thank you for all the emails, letters, prayers and the continual love. I hope y'all have a wonderful week and always know I'm praying and thinking about y'all.

Love Sister Brooks :) 

This is Josselyn. She might be moving :(

Note from Sister Brooks' parents:
We had a really neat experience on Friday, August 19, 2016.  We were in Salt Lake and planned on going to Temple Square in Salt Lake City to see if we could see Hermana Rodriguez.  She is serving as a sister missionary with 200 other missionaries on Temple Square.  (Those who are serving at Temple Square have the opportunity to serve a proselyting mission somewhere else for three months.  Herman Rodriguez was called to serve her three months in Virginia Richmond Mission.  Sister Brooks and Hermana Rodriguez were not companions but lived in the same apartments and went on splits together.  They became very close and loved spending time with each other as much as they could.  They made a music video together that was posted a few blogs ago.  Hermana Rodriguez has left Virginia and returned to Temple Square for the remainder of her time serving as a missionary.)  We were able to find and visit with Hermana Rodriguez and her companion, Sister Chan.  It was a treat to meet her and to feel of her spirit.  She is a wonderful missionary and so darling!  After she returns from the mission, she will be going to UVU in Orem, Utah.  We are sure she and Sister Brooks will meet up again!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Yippee!! Baptisms!

Emailing at the church


Wow, time is flying by so fast. These last 4 weeks have been the fastest 4 weeks of my life!!! Holy cow! Let me just say, I am so so grateful that I am here on a mission. I couldn't think of anything better. I am amazed how much our Heavenly Father truly does love each of us. He is aware of our needs. Not only do I see his love for me each and every day, I see it for those on the street, college students, homeless people and everyone around me. I know if we turn to Him and pray with questions, concerns or if we need comfort, He is always there for us and always answers our prayers.

    Well, Sister Johnsen and I had a wonderful week!! Marcus Grant was baptized on Saturday evening! It was such a wonderful service. The elders also had a baptism, so there was a double baptism and a HUGE turnout. There were so many friends, missionaries, investigators and President and Sister Smith attended as well.
Marcus is amazing. I can't remember if I have told you his story, but I will just in case I haven’t. Marcus is 24 years old.  He went to Indiana University and met the missionaries in November. He was attending every activity and church every week and meeting with the missionaries frequently. Well, he graduated college and moved back home. His family is VERY Baptist. His mother is a deaconess and doesn't approve or like the Mormons AT ALL. Well, the bishop from the YSA ward in Indiana  contacted our bishop and told Sister Johnsen and Sister Madsen, to get in contact with Marcus. So they did and started teaching him again. Marcus has faced many challenges, his father passed away about a month ago and his mom has been VERY upset with him. When I came here, he called us one day confirming his date for baptism and said he wasn't going to back down. His mom was angry and did everything she could to upset him and not allow him to go to church. He wasn't allowed to take the car or have anyone pick him up for church or any other activity. But, her heart is slowly softening and accepting the fact he wants to do this. She told him she wouldn't ever step foot in our church or touch the Book of Mormon. We hoped and wished she would soften her heart enough and come to his baptism, but she didn't, sadly. Marcus had a senior couple that is serving in Indiana, the Strongs, come to his baptism (it took a lot of strings to pull that off) and Elder Strong, baptized Marcus! He also had his friend Emma that was in Indiana and fellowshipped him come as well. It was a wonderful evening. Emma didn't have a place to stay, so she stayed at the mission home and the Smiths asked if we would stay with her.  Of course we couldn't say no! It is so fun to be with them and talk with them more! I LOVE PRESIDENT AND SISTER SMITH SO MUCH!!! 

Josselyn gave us roses... At her own baptism.
   Miracle: We were out contacting with a member one night and he decided that we needed to go down this one street. We were walking down the street and saw a girl sitting on the bench and she looked SUPER sad. We went up to talk to her and explained who we were and what we were doing. She looked at us bright big eyes and said, "Wait, no way? I was just praying and asking God why he hated me. I then asked him if he could show me if he loved me or not." We testified to her that God loves her so much and is aware of her. She was in tears. We shared the “Because He Lives” video and shared Alma 38:5 with her and just explained that God is always there for her and he will help her through anything. She loved everything we showed her and read to her. Our member was able to help her out because he went through similar experiences before he joined the church. She was very appreciative and knew she needed to look into this religion.  Sadly she was 35 so we couldn't teach her.  We can only teach the young adults in our area. We told the Richmond branch elders about her and they are going to continue teaching her. Hopefully everything goes well! 

    Funny story, we were visiting a less active and we were really close to the Clover Hill sisters, one of the sisters we work with. We decided to go leave a note on their door. We drove up and totally forgot that it was gated off and needed their little key thingy. But we were determined to get in. We were walking around pondering and thinking of a solution when a car drove up and started going through the gates. Once it turned the corner, I saw Sister Johnsen booking it through the gates. I, of course, had to run through as well, so I started booking it. We successfully got in the gates and realize.... How the heck are we going to get out? We leave the note and start walking up to the gates hoping for a miracle. We had to walk quite a ways to get to the gate and up a giant hill. We saw a car pull out of the parking spot and heading up the hill. We knew we had to take advantage of his car leaving. Low and behold, us two missionaries in skirts/dresses started running up the hill after the car. I know we looked ridiculous.  We are about 10 feet away, gasping for air and the gate starts closing.... Oh no. I BARELY slid through the gates before it closed, realizing that my companion was on the other side of the gate still. At this point, we couldn’t breathe because 1- We just ran up this giant hill and 2- we were laughing so hard. Finally a car drove through and Sister Johnsen was able to get through the gate. I wished someone had videotaped it. 

    Sister Johnsen met a guy named Ryan right before school ended. He went out of town over the summer. Sister Johnsen decided to call him on Thursday to see how he was doing and when he would be coming back for school. He told us he would be back on Friday so we set up an appointment to see him. Holy cow he is so solid!! He found out over the summer break that his step grandpa is Mormon. So that was cool! But Ryan really is excited to learn. He came to the baptism on Saturday of Marcus and Josselyn and loved it and he came to church.  We showed the restoration video last night and he came to that as well and he had a lesson with us before the movie. He will be at family home evening tonight and is going up with our ward on Saturday to the Philadelphia temple open house. He is solid!! Everyone was so good to him yesterday and became really good friends with him. That was very nice and helpful for the ward to do that. It really makes all the difference when the ward is willing to help fellowship. 

  I am so grateful to be serving in Chippenham and to be with Sister Johnsen. Seriously, life is too good right now and God is amazing and has truly blessed us missionaries. 

   Scripture of the week: Mark 8:35- it says, "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it." As I was watching the restoration video last night, (if you haven't watched it, go do it. Best hour you could spend) it really touched me and made me think of this scripture. Joseph Smith was persecuted, beaten, made fun of, murdered, and many saints were killed because they never ever backed down or denied the gospel. How amazing are they? Joseph gave his life for the gospel. Serving our savior and our Heavenly Father for a year and a half is the least I could do. I am so grateful for Joseph Smith and the life he lived. I am thankful for everything he has done for us. For having the question of what church was true and then acting on it. For having the desire, faith and courage.  For never ever giving up. I know he was called of God. I know Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to him and that he translated the Book of Mormon. I am so grateful for him and for his strength and courage and for never ever denying this gospel. 

I hope y'all have a wonderful week and don't ever forget that Sister Brooks loves you :) 

Love Sister Brooks :)

Shopping with Josselyn and Christian who was baptized last weekend.
(He was her ride, he didn't want to be there) 

My girl Emma-Claire 
She was in a car accident so we went and saw her before Marcus' baptism. 
Right before leaving to go to the Zoo