Monday, February 1, 2016

Wow, so I didn't have any time last week to write an email home, and this week I feel like I have even less time, but I will try to fit in some of my thoughts really quickly. 

The past two weeks have been just incredible. God has guided us so very much and I am in awe of what He does for us every day. 3 weeks ago, an Irish woman accidentally got off at the wrong bus stop and walked into our church. She felt so welcomed by all of the members that met her she decided to come back the next week, stay for all 3 hours and then go to dinner with some of the members that she has met the week before. Then we met with her on Wednesday, and she is committed to being baptized on February 20th!! It is so incredible to see how God truly is mindful of all of His children, where they are, what they need, and when they are ready for it. I know that it was no accident that she walked into our building. SO INCREDIBLE!

Then 2 days ago, we were out tracting and literally  no one was answering the door. Not one person. But about half-way through the street, the random cat starts to follow us. But really, everyone. It was intentionally following us!! We even tried running down a different street and 2 minutes later the cat was there just staring at us again. Honestly, I thought it was pretty creepy. But then, we decided that we could either be afraid of it, or have faith that it would lead to something good. So, we turned to the cat and told it to lead the way. It stopped in front of a home, which turned out to be where it lived, and the owners were very kind Catholics who were not interested. But very nice, and we went on our way, not really sure what to do at that point. We decided to start heading back to our car, and on the way we met this wonderful woman named Marcy. She had just went through a horrible encounter with someone she loved, and all she needed was someone to love her. After sharing some tender moments and hugs, we finally  understood why Lottie, the cat, had us follow her a few blocks, and why it was important that we head back to the car. There is always a plan, and I was just so grateful that we had been in the right place at the right time to help someone in need. It was a great blessing.

Wow, there are too many stories to tell this week and no time!! But really, it has filled me with so much love and joy and gratitude. There are many things coming in the near future which are scary and crazy, but there is one thing that will never be either of those, and that is the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is so simple, and beautiful, and comforting. It doesn't mean extremism, it means love. And regardless of what happens from here on out, it will be my guiding star. I love love love love love love love love love love my mission and how it has brought me closer to my Savior. I love Seattle and the wonderful culture, I love real hispanic food although I haven't had it in over a month now, and I love the gospel. I will miss this more than I could ever explain, but I am also so very excited to see many of my loved ones again and to learn and grow with them. There are no real endings, only progress and new scenes. 

I love you all so much and will see you soon. Hasta pronto! 
-Hermana Brooks

Monday, January 11, 2016

Hello wonderful friends and family. This week was probably the busiest week of my entire mission. It was amazing and wonderful, hard and exhausting. But I learned so much and I am so grateful for another week of what will probably be the same :) 

First of all, I FINALLY went to Pikes Place!! haha I have always been on the other side of the mission, so I could never go, but now it is super close to where we live. We got to see the renewed gum wall, the fish market, and eat some DELICIOUS local yogurt. It was amazing :) 
And the remainder of our week was filled with 4 different exchanges, planning emergency transfers, and talking to EVERYONE we see. There are so many people in our area, because there are so many tourist attractions and sights. Pretty much our area is BEAUTIFUL and also super super wealthy. So we get an interesting mix of college students, band members from Macklemore (but really, we knocked on their house... or gate surrounding their house... no answer though...), and then old timers who have been here for centuries and now their homes are worth millions of dollars. Its pretty crazy.So every day is a new adventure because we never know what is coming! 

One of the best experiences for me this week was having the opportunity of going on a day exchange with one of sister missionaries, Sister Kyaw. Sister Kyaw is from Myanmar, Burma and she has been on her mission for almost a year. She still has broken English, but she is really just incredible. Her family is in complete poverty over in her country, but people from around the world are supporting her to be able to come on a mission. She is one of the humblest, most powerful missionaries I have ever met. And it is not because she is eloquent, or knows all of the best techniques in missionary work. Rather, she just loves God so much. You can just see it in her eyes the amazing testimony she has that God loves her and is right there with her every step of the way. She was baptized four years ago by senior missionaries in Burma, and we were able to celebrate by being missionaries together for her anniversary day. It was a sweet experience, and one that filled my heart with so much love. As we talked with people on the street and had fun climbing these crazy Seattle streets, I knew that God was with us and that His plan is for us to have joy, no matter how the odds are stacked against us. It was the funnest day ever :) 

Well, I don't have tons of time, but I just wanted to leave you all with my testimony of prayer. I know that prayer is real and that it has the power to change our lives. There have been so many times on my mission where a trial is placed before me and I really don't know how to keep going. But as I have asked God for help and answers, they always come. Not always when I want them to come, but they do come. Prayer is more than just for getting what we want though. It is a way for us to receive direction and help from our Loving Heavenly Father and to align our will with His. When things dont go our way, and we feel like we have been abandoned, forgotten or let down by God, we have to remember that He loves us and He knows a little bit more than we do. Trust in Him and I know that greater understanding and peace will come into your life, no matter what you are facing. 

I love you all so much and hope that you have a great week. Dont forget to pray!!
-Hermana Brooks
Hello everyone!! so really I dont have a lot of time, as always. But I figured I should fill all of you in really quick with whats been going on in the Washington Seattle Mission!! 

So Christmas was amazing, we had SOO many miracles that week it was insane! We found a new family that are all excited and ready for baptism! woo hoo!!!!! they recently moved here from Colombia, and already know a little bit about the church because their daughter-in-law is a less active member who wants to start coming back to church. We met the kids on Monday, they all came to the Christmas party on Friday, and then to church on Sunday!! miracles!! they are so amazing, and I know that they will be able to enter the waters of baptism soon. Their goal is to be ready on January 23rd :) 

We also had a zone fireside on Christmas Eve, and we were blessed with some very sweet experiences to serve those around us. It was a great blessing from God, because sometimes as a missionary, Christmas just feels the same because you just do the same things you do every day. But this Christmas will be one that I will remember for the rest of my life. And I wish I could tell you all about it, but that will have to do for now.... 
because I have to tell you about transfers!!!

So Hermana Flores and I both got the call that we were getting transferred. :( They closed our area, and all of our amazing miracle families and investigators will now be taught by the elders that stayed in the branch... :( it was a sad day saying goodbye to all of them, but I know that the Lord is in charge and He will take care of them. 

I got transferred to Discovery Park with Sister Clayson, and we have a special assignment of being over all of the sister training leaders in the mission and working closely with the mission president, the assistants, and all of the leaders. It is really really crazy, and we have been super busy. But we are seeing so many miracles. It was really overwhelming, and I have never felt so inadequate. But I know that my Heavenly Father loves me and I have been shown over and over again how He called me to this specific area and with my specific assignment as a direct answer to my prayers. I have learned and grown more in the past week than in the last few months, and I feel Gods hand in my life. I think we often have moments like this, where something takes us so entirely by surprise and without warning that it seems to bury us and we dont know what to do. We look around us and think of at least a dozen other people who could handle it or do better than we could, and it becomes discouraging. But, I want you all to remember that you can do it. As hard as it is to believe, we can do anything. We can change, we can repent, we can lift someone else when we feel like we have nothing to offer. Because we are children of God. It is a new year, and we are all priveledged with the opportunity to start over, do better, and become who we want to become. None of us should take that for granted. 
I know that the Savior's Atonement is real. I know that He loves us. 

I am sorry that this letter is so scattered, and it makes some sense! I love you all so much and I hope you have a week full of growth and motivation to move forward in this new year!!!!
-Hermana Brooks
Holy moly, Christmas is in FOUR DAYS!!!!!! That is just crazy. What happened to all of the other 20 days of December? Quien sabe....

Anyways, so this week we had a lot of great fun and of course, tons of miracles! There is such a special spirit during Christmas time. One of my favorite tender mercies that Heavenly Father gave us this week happened on Saturday. Literally we were having ZERO success. No one was home, no one wanted to talk to us, nada. After getting stuck in downtown traffic, we were so ready to just get out of the car and teach someone the gospel. That was not our fate. But we found this little apartment complex and decided to try knocking doors. A few people answered, none of them had much time or interest. But after a few minutes, one of the doors that we had already knocked on re-opened, and the lady we had talked to stepped outside really quick. She explained that she really didn't have time to talk with us, but that she was so grateful that we were out spreading the message of Christ. She wished us a Merry Christmas and stepped back inside. But it was so special to feel the Spirit as this woman took a leap of faith and reached out to us in love. I think we are often too fearful of offending someone, or thinking that our words and thoughts couldn't possibly matter that we don't say anything at all. She could have easily just stayed inside, and never re-opened the door to wish us a Merry Christmas. We should never hesitate to share words of love and kindness. I love how she followed the example of the Savior in that simple moment. 

We also had the amazing opportunity to go to the Ensign Symphony with our investigator Reyes!! oh my goodness, it was BEAUTIFUL!! It reminded me how much I love music, the violin, and beautiful singing. And it was really awesome because Reyes has been struggling with understanding repentance and how to be prepared so that he can be baptized. But while we were there, listening to the amazing Christmas music all about the birth of Jesus Christ, he recognized the amazing power that Christmas time has in helping us overcome our weaknesses and fixing things that need mending. He is so close to the Spirit! And I am so sorry, but I totally had all of these great pictures from that night, but I accidentally left my camera at home!! :( 

Well everyone, I love you so very much. I hope and pray that you may be able to recognize God's hand in your lives. I know that there is so much going on in the world, Christmas shopping, parties, visits, cookies, star wars... the list is endless. But I know that as we focus on HIM, we will be able to recognize and understand a little bit more of what He did for us. He was born for US, He died for US, and He rose again and still lives today for US-- so that we can repent, and feel of God's love more and more every single day. Have a Very Merry Christmas!! 
-Hermana Brooks 

So we got caught up in a huge service project this morning, and time is short today. BUT! We had a really great week that I want to tell you all about super quick!

First of all, our family from Honduras is AMAZING! Really, they are a complete miracle. They came to voleibol this week and LOVED it, and were able to come to church!! We went over and watched the movie Prophet of the Restoration, and their mom came to watch it with us. About 5 minutes in, she goes, "I've seen this before! I used to meet with the missionaries in Honduras." WHAT?! We were running late for another appointment that was 30 minutes away, so we didn't have tons of time to talk with her after the movie finished, but we are so excited to keep teaching this family! Also, since Gabriela and Mariela are twins, it pretty much feels like we are teaching the girls from Sister-Sister like 100% of the time. They are hilarious. I love them so much!!

We also had a really special zone conference. Elder Johnson from the Seventy came to visit our mission, and boy did he call us to repentance. But then he taught us about how repentance means change. It isn't always scary, or hard, or heart-breaking. It is us reaching our full potential as children of God. Something that really hit me was what a fellow sister missionary said. She commented that we all know that our end goal is to make it home in the kingdom of God, to be worthy and ready to live there. But we don't just want to feel like a guest, or a visitor. We want to feel at home, like a child coming home to stay. It is only through living the gospel of Jesus Christ that we can do that, and that is why we share our message, so that everyone can do that. It was a really wonderful experience, and I learned so much. 

We had so many amazing miracles, and I just don't have enough time to tell you about them all. But I want you all to know that I have seen God's hand in my life this week, and I am eternally grateful for it. I am so grateful for my calling as a missionary, and I am so grateful for my captain Jesus Christ. I love celebrating His birth, and helping others learn about Him. I love you all so much, and I hope you have a great week. I pray that you may all feel the Christmas Spirit. I know that it is not from the gifts, or lights (although they are beautiful). It is about love, service, and family. It is about about a Father who loves His children, and wants them to come back home. 

Hasta luego!!
-Hermana Brooks

Friday, December 11, 2015

Yes, dear friends and family, the wintery rains of Washington have officially come. They have taken away the ice and frost, but now everything is permanently damp. Its awesome :) 

We had a pretty great week in the Crossroads Branch! We have been working a lot on being CONVERTED missionaries, not just missionaries with a testimony. A testimony is what someone KNOWS. I personally have a knowledge that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is true, and that Jesus Christ lives. A conversion is how someone is CHANGED by that knowledge. There are many who simply have very large testimonies, they have come to know and understand a lot about the gospel. There are also many of us who need to improve and grow in our ability to apply that knowledge and change because of it. I also know that you can be converted without knowing everything. The AMOUNT of what we know does not matter nearly as much as what we do with it. So if you feel your testimony has a few more holes in it than someone else's, I would invite you to focus on how you change your life according to what you DO know. I have been taught a lot this week about how God will fill those holes, and strengthen the weak spots when we seek to be converted and true to what we already know to be true. 

My experience with that principle this week started because of a zone training that we had, where we were counseled to invite EVERYONE we see and talk to to be baptized. Now, as missionaries, we already strive to talk with everyone. We are not called to be judges of who we think is ready for the gospel. We are called to FIND those who God has already prepared. Which could be anyone. So we talk to everyone :) But throughout my mission, I have been on and off about inviting everyone to baptism as soon as I meet them. We were challenged to do so, and were promised that the Lord will put those prepared people in our path. I have a testimony that the Lord will always provide a way, and He will help us be successful missionaries when we have faith in  Him. As we went out and made that extra effort to invite everyone to be baptized, we were able to find several new investigators AND a family from Honduras who wants to learn and prepare to be baptized!! It was so crazy!!! 

Also, I received a special assignment from our mission president this week..... Another sister (Sister Clayson) and I will be teaching a high school class of Jewish students about the history and doctrine of our church on Tuesday!!! What?! Yah, so our mission president got an email last week from the Jewish Synagogue asking for us to prepare a presentation for this class, since they are studying different denominations and religions. So we will have 45 minutes to present the message of the Restoration and answer questions they have. It is going to be so great! We really have no idea what to expect, but as we were talking our mission president it was really cool to talk about how unique our message is. In the title page of the Book of Mormon, it says that one of its main purposes is "to the convincing of Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ." It was written for them!! So anyways, please pray for us that our presentation will go well, since we have like no time to plan and prepare together. I am so excited!! :) 

Also, I just really really love Christmas time. It is the best!! I love you all so much and I hope that you are able to feel the Christmas Spirit. For all of you in school, good luck in finals and such! And let us not forget that we come together with friends and family at this time to celebrate God's greatest gift, His Beloved Son. Let us strengthen our conversions and rejoice. Les Quiero!!! 
-La Hermana Brooks