Saturday, December 27, 2014
Hello dear friends and family!! I hope that everyone has had the most amazing Christmas day and Season ever. I know that I have :) We are all so very blessed.
Well, the past two weeks have been a crazy, insane BLURRRRR. Basically the summary of missionary work. But they have also been amazing!! So my dear amazing companion, Hermana Pier left home to Utah after completing her 18 month mission. I seriously love and miss her so much, but I know that she has started a new chapter in her life, and I am so grateful for the time that I was able to serve with her. See you at BYU in 2016 Hermana!! :)
THEN, I got a phone call that night saying that I was being called to be a TRAINER for a BRAND NEW MISSIONARY for the next transfer!! WHAT?!?! Really, I just BARELY had finished being in training myself the day before! Oh my goodness, I don't think I have ever been so scared in my life. I felt (and still feel) so incredibly inadequate and unprepared to train a new missionary. But, at the same time, I am confident that all things are possible with the Lord, and as I put my trust in Him, everything will be okay. Even if there are a few bumps in the road. which, trust me, there are A LOT of bumps. :)
So I have now officially been a trainer for a week now, and I am so grateful for this assignment! My sweet trainee is Hermana Dilworth from Spanish Fork, Utah and she is so amazing!! She has such enthusiasm and excitement for the work. Really, she is perfect for our investigators right now, and she has already brought so many miracles with her! Still, it has been the hardest thing I have ever done, and there are some days where it is so stressful and I feel like a failure. But I know that everything will be okay, and that I am not expected to be perfect. Heavenly Father is really loving and patient with us, and for that I am eternally grateful :)
The work is going really well, although there are some really slow days. However, the Lord has blessed us with incredible people, and we are constantly finding new people to teach, which is such a blessing!! And really, being a missionary during Christmas time is the most incredible blessing. Especially right now, where there is so much stress and pressure from the outside, it has been such a blessing to be a recipient of so much love and support, as well as to give of my heart to every single person we see each day.
Now that Christmas is coming to a close, please do not forget Christ, nor the Spirit of Christmas. Continue to give of yourself, your time, and your talents. Never cease to spread kindness and love. Dont stop singing either :) I promise that as you continue to do these things, you will be able to keep the Christmas Spirit with you all year long. Christ was born for us, He suffered and died for us, and He rose for us. I know that He lives today, and that He loves us. He love you. He loves me. I know that it is only through Him that we receive true and lasting happiness, and I know that His arms of love are always extended toward us.
I love you all so much and I hope that you have had the most amazing Christmas season!!!!
La Hermana Brooks
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Wow, this week was incredible!! We had a lot of really cool experiences that have strengthened me sooo much, and I am so grateful for all of them. Me and my companion had the wonderful opportunity to go the temple with our mission president and his wife this week, and it was truly a spiritual experience. While being on a mission, even though I cannot go very often (once every 6 months, with this time being an exception) my testimony of the temple has grown so very much. We have the amazing opportunity to be sealed together as a family for time and ALL ETERNITY! How incredible is that?? I am so grateful for the chance to be with my family for eternity, and especially during this Thanksgiving week, that knowledge gives me so much comfort as I am away from them.
We also had the awesome opportunity to have a general authority, Elder Falabella of the Seventy, come to our mission yesterday and give us a special zone conference. He talked a lot about service, which I thought was really neat. Something that us missionaries get in the bad habit of it serving people in order to gain something in return (referrals for people to teach usually). But what he taught us is that true service needs to be out of LOVE for that person. We should not do anything out of a desire to receive something in return, and in order to be true representatives of Jesus Christ, we need to have pure love be the motive for everything we do.
And miracle!! Our investigator Cecilia was really struggling a week ago to have faith and read the Book of Mormon. She was about to drop us, when we invited her to fast with us that coming Sunday to know if she should continue to learn about our message. Well, she fasted with us, and the next day we went to go see her and see how it went. She was so happy to see us, and to tell us that she read all of 1 Nephi! She told us that as she was reading and praying, she felt that the Book of Mormon was answering her questions, and helping her understand what was once so confusing to her in the Bible!! She is still too afraid to come to church, but she is gaining a testimony of the Book of Mormon, and the difference it has made in her countenance is just incredible! It made me so grateful for the Book of Mormon in my life, and the guidance it gives me. I know that it is true, and no matter what you may be struggling with, you can find guidance and comfort in the Book of Mormon.
Well, I am so grateful for all of you and the amazing examples that you are to me. I am also so grateful for this wonderful time of year (that I can't believe is already here) that we have to focus on our families and our Savior Jesus Christ. If you haven't told your family lately that you love them, I would strongly encourage you to do so, because they are the most important people in our lives. There is a great power in the 3 words "I love you," so don't ever hesitate to use them. and I love you! I hope that you all have an amazing Thanksgiving week full of family, friends, and love.
La Hermana Brooks
Hello dear family and friends! I hope you are all staying warm! Basically this week was FREEZING, as noted by our frozen water bottles that were left in the car over night and the frozen fountains in from of people's homes. Las Vegas, I miss you :)
haha But actually this week was great. A little harder, a little less friendly people on the street. But still great. and we are definitely learning A LOT. :) Its awesome.
So I don't really have a lot of time this week, but I want you all to know that we are working hard up here in the Washington Seattle Mission! This week we received some really hard news that my companion's step-father had passed away from his cancer. It was not a very fun weekend, to say the least. She is okay and really just so strong. But it has really given me a lot of time to be grateful for my own family and loved ones, and all of the blessings we receive every day. We really are so blessed, and I think a lot of times it is hard to remember to be thankful. But especially this Thanksgiving season, take a few minutes to count your blessings. I know that you will receive more strength in the hard times, and more joy in the happy times when we always have a grateful heart.
This life is not easy, nor is it always fair. But I know that there is a purpose to all things, and that if we put our trust in the Lord, we can receive comfort in all things. With all of my heart, I ask you to pray and to be grateful for those things, talents, loved ones, in your life at this time. Never stop being grateful, and never shy away from an opportunity to love and serve someone.
You are all amazing, and I hope that you have an amazing week. Never forget that you are children of God, and that He loves you. Never forget that I love you. and Let us more fully receive all things with thanks this coming holiday season.
La Hermana Brooks
Monday, November 10, 2014
So this week was a lot of adjusting to my new area. It is HUGE and there are a lot of farms and driving involved. Also not a lot of Hispanics, especially interested ones. But we have some really solid people that we are working with right now! First of all, we are teaching this amazing family, Los Parez, and I love them so much! There mom is just amazing,and she loves having us come over and teach. She have so much faith, and really wants to know if our church is true. But she also gets a lot of anti-mormon material that makes her nervous. However, every time we come over we talk about her concerns, and she always says that she knows what she has heard isn't true because of the way us missionaries live our lives and our kindness to her and her family! Aww man, I love her a lot.
We are also teaching this awesome young man named Toni! He just moved to the States from Mexico about 2 months ago, and so he doesn't speak any English. But we had our first lesson with him on Tuesday on the Restoration. He loved it, and really felt the spirit when we talked about the First Vision! He was so excited to go home and read in the Book of Mormon. Later that night, he texted us saying that he would definitely read in the Book of Mormon, and that he really wants to be a part of our church!!! YAYYY!! Oh my goodness, we were so excited! But the only problem is that he works a lot-- A LOT. So please pray that he will have this next Sunday off so that he can come to church and progress more towards baptism!
A little tid bit about my amazing new companion, Hermana PIer! She is really just amazing. We have so much fun together, and she really just helps me always be happy, even when we can't find people to teach. Oh, and her Spanish is PHENOMENAL, so hopefully some of that rubs off on me :) This is her last transfer before going home in December, and so we are working really hard at making this the best transfer ever! I am excited for it, and we have some amazingly fun things planned for this holiday season coming up. Whoop!
So basically all is well here in the Washington Seattle Mission. Nothing is as constant as change, and nothing helps us learn and grow more :)
If there is one thing that I have learned this week is that there is always room to improve. Never let yourself think that what you are doing is just "good enough." We have so much potential as God's children here on Earth, and if we really want to become better, we have to be better. Starting now :) And I know that sometimes that seems really scary, and really hard. But we have been commanded to do it: "Be ye therefore perfect, even as I" But we can have comfort knowing that "The Lord giveth no commandment unto the children of men save he shall prepare a way for them to accomplish the thing which he commanded them" (1 Ne 3:7). And I also know that all of God's commandments have been given to us to make us happy. Never stop improving, never stop being happier :)
I love you all so much and pray for you and your success! Trust in the Lord and move forward with faith :)
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Hello family and friends!!
This week in the Washington Seattle Mission we saw so many miracles and had so much fun!! We went on a lot of exchanges with other sisters and it was so much fun! I love being with other missionaries :) Our first big miracle from this past week is that our investigator Luis is getting baptized TOMORROW!!!! Oh my goodness, I am sooo excited for him!! He met missionaries the week before I got here, and we have been teaching him ever since, and he is so amazing!! He has such a desire to do what is right. And he is so ready to continue to do so by following the example of Jesus Christ by being baptized. I am just so so so excited!! We also have another investigator right now named Daniel who has been taught by missionaries for a really long time. His mom is also a member of the church, and has been trying to get him to join for a long time. And finally, last Wednesday he committed to being baptized on November first!! AHH just so many miracles!! I just know that this church is true and I have my testimony confirmed every time I teach a lesson and see the Spirit touch their hearts to motivate them to learn more. IT IS JUST SO INCREDIBLE!
We also had a really cool experience during finding time this week (where we go and knock doors-- everyone's favorite part :) ) We found a woman named Sonia who is super religion. She just loves going to different churches and learning more about God and Jesus Christ. Just a super amazing woman. Well, we taught her about the Book of Mormon, and how it is another testament, another source, that adds to our knowledge of Jesus Christ. She was super excited to read it and learn more which is awesome and what every missionary dreams of! Then we shared a prayer with her before we left, and when we were done with the prayer she was crying! It just touched my heart so much to see how the Spirit and our message affected her. It is moments like those that I know without a doubt that God is real, and that He loves us. I am so grateful for my knowledge of that and how much I have the opportunity to see the different ways that God blesses us to show His love for us.
Also, shout out to my amazing best friend Darby Phee for sending me the most amazing package this week filled with delicious and fun things :) It was receiving that package that launched us into an incredible weekend filled with love and miracles of happiness. We had an amazing pancake party with some of the young women of our branch which was so much fun!! I love working with the youth so much :) and who doesn't love pancakes?? That's right, no one doesn't like pancakes. So it was a smashing success! Youth have so much power to do good, and I just love the opportunity I have to try and remind them of that as much as possible.
We also had our member missionary fireside last night!! I got to play the violin with Hermana Pingree, another sister in the mission who is actually going home in 2 weeks! :( But it was amazing, and it was such a cool experience to meet and see so many new converts to the church and also see my other missionary friends. As you can see, just so much fun :)
But really, this week just taught me the power of gratitude so much. There will always been good and bad all around us, and everyone has hard things happen to them. Just remember that you can either take those bad experiences and become BITTER or BETTER. The choice is yours and mine to make. I know that I have to make that decision every single day as a missionary, and the more you choose to look at the good and be happy no matter your circumstances, the more blessings and miracles you will be able to see in your own life. As the scriptures say, "Men are that they might have joy" (2 Ne 2:25).
I love you all and pray for you! May you be able to look up and drink in the blessings that are constantly being poured down from Heaven!
kay, so I am not actually counting down the months, but today does mark my 2 month mark exactly since i started my mission. Pretty neat, huh??
Well, this week we had a lot of amazing experiences that really strengthened my testimony of God's love for us. The Lord is seriously blessing us so much, it is incredible! Everyday we are literally running from place to place just to fit in all of the people that we need to see. And we are meeting some amazing people on the streets as well! Even when people don't want to accept our message, they share their beliefs with us and it is incredible the faith that people have. Yes, its true that people are choosing to believe in God less and less, but there are still so many people out there who do believe and live their lives in such a way as to help other believe as well. And there are a lot of people who do accept our message as well, and allow us to teach them and help them grow in their faith. My favorite part about the gospel is that it doesn't take away from anyone's beliefs, it only adds to them and helps them be even happier than they already are.
Also, I learned how to crochet this week!! We have an investigator right now who makes the cutest barbie clothes for her sweet daughters, and so we thought it would be awesome to get some women from the ward over to learn from her! It was awesome, and we all learned a little bit about crocheting and also what a blessing our talents are. That is something that we have really been trying to work on lately, is using our own talents as well as the talents of members and investigators. They really are such a blessing, and can be used to bless the lives of countless others if we only do something with them!
Speaking of talents, I had the amazing opportunity of playing the violin with another sister during our mission's zone conference! Some members here have let us borrow their violins and it is such a blessing! We did a beautiful duet of "Joseph's First Prayer," and it was so great! Our mission president invited us to play it again for the multi-stake member-missionary fireside that is this weekend! I am freaking out a little bit, but I am also so excited! Please send all good vibes this way, I am going to need them :)
We also had our first real exchanges this week, which was super fun. So for exchanges, one member of our companionship switches with someone in a different companionship for 24 hours. It is a great learning opportunity and helps us get to know the other awesome missionaries in the area! It was so fun to see how other styles of teaching and contacting on the street. We had one Sister who is incredibly bold (she goes home this transfer) and we practically chasing people on the street to be able to talk to them. It was awesome and really taught me a lesson of being bold and not afraid to talk to EVERYONE, something I definitely have to work on.
Every Friday, we also do a fun volleyball night with the branch here as well as soccer every Saturday morning. It is such a fun opportunity to get to know the members and our investigators LOVE to come. This week was exceptionally special, because one of our investigators who has been struggling lately and not wanting to meet with us showed up!!! It was the neatest thing to see how God was helping us out, by helping this young man come to volleyball. It was such a miracle, and really showed me how God answers all of our prayers. And it was awesome that we all got to have a lot of fun together as well :)
This week has just been really great in opening my eyes to the will and love of my Heavenly Father. He loves us --He loves ME and YOU-- so much. And He puts different things in my path everyday to remind me of that, whether is a member bearing powerful testimony to an investigator, or having someone come to church, or just seeing how beautiful the trees and stars are every day. Sometimes I wish that He didn't have to remind me so much, that I would just always know and remember. But I am so grateful that He does, because I do need it. Missionary work wouldn't be possible without it, nor do I think would every day life. And seeing His love everyday strengthens my ability to love others and serve them the way Christ would. I am just so grateful for all of the amazing blessings and miracles that I have seen lately and continue to see everyday. I am so grateful for all of you, my friends and family, and pray for you always. Remember to look up: God is there and loves you.
P.S. go listen to "through heaven's eyes", I don't remember the name of the guy who sings it, but its from Prince of Egypt and its amazing. It might just make your day :)
Thursday, October 9, 2014
It's OCTOBER!!!!! Oh my goodness, how fast time flies!! But this month is already a month of blessings and miracles, and I know that it will only get better from here!
The week started off with an orientation/training for new missionaries (me) that was given by our wonderful mission president! President Choi is such an inspired man, and I am so honored to learn from him and learn from his example. He talked a lot about "Looking up," or looking to God for answers and help in this life. It really is so important to keep our priorities straight and to know in who we trust. Probably one of my favorite examples of Looking Up is in the Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi chapter 4. You should all go and read it :) its actually one of my favorite chapters in the whole book and it really has taught me that we are never alone, and with God everything is possible. So I highly recommend it :)
This week, I have also had some amazing experiences with knocking on doors!! This is the one thing that I have always dreaded about missionary work, but this week I was blessed with so many miracles that came from it! We met so many amazing people, with such great faith and desires to do good. We also met a lot of people with great struggles and difficulties. But no matter what their circumstances were, they were striving to do what was right and be happy. It was such a neat thing for me to see, and it really helped me come to love the people here. It was Gods way of showing me that no matter how bad things get, people are still good and are trying their best. It was also amazing to be able to knock on doors and initially have them not want anything to do with us, but after talking a little bit and feeling the genuine love we had for them and for our message, they opened up and came to have great desires to learn more. It was just really cool for me to see :)
annnnndd there was was GENERAL CONFERENCE!! I sincerely hope that everyone was able to watch it, because is was amazing. The messages that the Prophet and Apostles shared were so inspired, and also bold (so be prepared to learn something great) and it really opened my eyes to how much God really does love us. I loved them all so much that I cant even pick a favorite to talk about right now! But I do know that God really does talk through his prophets, and that He really did speak to us this past weekend. If you didn't feel that, I would pray that you would go back again and take notes. Often the things God wants you to know are not in the exact words that someone said, but in the feelings and thoughts that come to your mind as you are listening.
This week was just incredible, and I am so grateful to be a missionary at this time, in this place. Right now we have 2 investigators who are working toward baptism in the next couple of weeks, and I am just so blessed to know them and be able to teach them. They are so prepared and really teach me so much about faith every day. Becoming converted to anything requires change, and the people that I have the privilege of teaching show such great strength and faith in their desires to change and be better that it amazes me. Yesterday we had the amazing opportunity to teach a young woman about the blessings that come from baptism and the Atonement, and when her eyes lit up with a desire to do what she needed to be able to receive those blessings it made me want to cry tears of joy. Change really is possible, and when we have faith in Christ we can do all things.
I love you all so much, and pray that all is well. I know that these things, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is true. I know that God talks through His prophets and that with His Son Jesus Christ, anything is possible. And I pray that all of you can know that for yourselves as well. Look up and know that I love you, and that your Heavenly Father loves you.
Thursday, October 2, 2014
Wow, where to begin! This week has been absolutely crazy and incredible. I am seeing miracles everyday and cannot express how amazing it is to finally be in the field as a missionary. There are so many amazing people here, and so many incredible things going on in missionary work- it just makes me so grateful to be here at this time in this place.
I don't even know where to begin with things to talk about! I guess I will start with my amazing companions! So I think I mentioned in the last post that my companions are Hermana Hales and Hermana Norton. Let me just tell you, they are incredible! I have never met two missionaries who strive to be more Christ-like in all they do and say. They are so incredibly dedicated to the work, and in helping me learn and grow and become the best missionary that I can be. Companionship study with these two is one of my favorite parts of the morning, by far because of the amazing things they teach me.
One thing that I have learned from them is how to increase my high expectations. It is something that our mission president, President Choi, has urged us to do, and something that my companions teach me how to do. Really, its a lesson of faith. If you always put your faith in the Lord, and actively try to do better and more than you have previously done, then He will bless you with the capacity to do it. The trick is that you have to believe and plan and work in such a way that shows that you believe it is possible, specifically for you, as well. Anyways, I hope that that makes sense and that you will be able to personally consider how to increase your own expectations and faith in reaching those expectations. We all have the ability to learn and grow, so don't be afraid of it :)
Investigators!! Oh man, we have some amazing investigators here in Bellevue. We have two working right now towards baptism dates, and the faith of these two men astound me every time we talk to them. One of them is named Luis, and he has such a desire to follow Christ and gain a testimony for himself. When he talks with us, we can just see the light of Christ in his eyes, especially when he talks about the Book of Mormon. He even came to two church activities as well as church on Sunday with the Spanish branch here and it was just so incredible to see him acting his faith. It is so amazing to see how the Gospel blesses lives!!
And our branch here is incredible!! It is truly led by Spiritual giants! Our branch president and branch mission leader are just the most amazing examples to me. The Lord really is hastening His work, and it has been the biggest blessing to me to see that first hand up here in the North West. From playing volleyball with the branch, or soccer, the Spirit is there and missionary work grows in all of them. Ahhh I am just so blessed to be here surrounded by these amazing people, I cant even express to you how wonderful I feel.
Wow, I really don't have a lot of time left, but I just want to say how much I love all of you and how grateful I am for the support that I have received. I am so incredibly blessed to be a missionary and to talk to and serve the people here. I hope this email makes sense, but if not, forgive me and hope that next week I have a little more time to organize my thoughts and get some cool stories out there :)
And a quick shout out to my dad for having his birthday yesterday!! Love you and I hope you had an amazing day!!
OH!! and I hope everyone was able to see the General Women's Conference on Saturday. If not, GO AND WATCH IT. It was absolutely amazing, and I know you can learn something that will help you in whatever you are going through. And don't forget about General Conference this weekend!! I just know that it is going to be amazing. How blessed are we that we can listen to a prophets voice!
Alright, I really must be going, but I send all of my love! Increase your High Expectations!!
Thursday, September 25, 2014
Hello beloved friends and family!!
I am finally in Seattle!! I have officially been in Seattle for 48 hours, and boy how crazy they have been! I left the CCM in Mexico at 2 in the morning yesterday after a full day of watching all of my best friends leave to their various missions (triste). And then I got a to Texas and was able to call my amazing parents!! Oh, it was such a blessing to be able to hear their voices! Then we jumped on our last flight to Seattle, and from there we haven't stopped learning, running, and sharing the gospel.
My two companions are Hermana Hales from Ogden, Utah and Hermana Norton from Highland, Utah and they are just icredible! It is a little weird being in a trio, but I have already learned so much from them and I can just tell that its going to be an amazing first transfer.
So the very first thing we did as a new companionship was go out contacting!! It was crazy fun and I got to testify of the Book of Mormon in Spanish! It is really such a blessing to be able to speak Spanish. It opens so many doors and really carries the Spirit with it. I just love it. And I had my first real lesson yesterday! We went over to an investigators home last night to read from the Book of Mormon together. This guy, Luis, truly believes that God loves him and wants him to do whats right. He also believes that the missionaries were a blessing sent from God to help us do that. And it was so special to be able to read from the Book of Mormon with him and feel of his testimony. Now our goal is to help him make it to church :)
Basically, Seattle is already amazing and I can already tell that I am going to love it!! Its beautiful, the people are wonderful, and I have the two best trainers in the world! I don't have a lot of time, but I do want to share one quick thought that we talked about this morning during our companionship study. What we talked about was how God will never give us anything that 1. we dont want, and 2. we arent prepared for. This is a concept that I learned while in the CCM, but really hit me this morning concerning my role as a missionary. God is there ready to answer all of our questions, ready to help us in all things. And He's that way because He is our loving Father in Heaven. But we have to do our part in order for us to even understand what He is telling us. So I urge everyone to really think about that, and do what you can to make changes in our lives that show that we are putting our trust in God, and also that we are prepared to make more changes so that He can bless us and give us all of the amazing things that He has in store, just waiting for us. I don't know if that made any sense, but I hope it did :)
I send all of my love, and hope that everything is going well! My P-day is on Mondays (today was a special exception from my mission president), so thats when I will be able to check back in with all of you and have some more time to make sure that my thoughts are coherent :)
Thursday, September 18, 2014
What a week it has been!! And it has literally flown by like none other. Time flies when you're having fun, am I right??
Well first things first, the fun stuff: We started off the week with an awesome takeover of the soccer cage. That's right, the HERMANAS took over the cage. And we played cage soccer in the rain and it was flipping fantastic. Really though, it was amazing and so so so fun. And for all of you that don't understand why this is so cool or awesome, the Hermanas are NEVER in the cage because the Elders never leave it. And when we finally took it over, the Elders could not believe their eyes. So really, we became the coolest people in the CCM and it was wonderful despite the fact that I am terrible at soccer.
Super awesome thing number 2! (This is for you, Dad), we had CHOCOLATE TRES LECHES in class because it was an Elder's birthday in our district. So basically my teachers are the best people in the world, and you don't have a complete trip (or 6 week stay) in México without having an authentic tres leches cake. it was amazing and fantastic and was just as delicious as you think it was. And more ;)
Also, this week was a week of rain. You know the phrase raining cats and dogs?? Yes? Well that happened this week. again. and it was fantastic.The streets of the CCM were flooded and I got to wear my amazing rain boots again and get teased for being so excited about them. But it was so very worth it ;)
AANNNNDD it was MEXICAN INDEPENDENCE DAY YESTERDAY!! So basically all of Mexico was having one big party ;) It was so so so much fun to be here in México for their special holiday. Here in the CCM, all of our language study was cancelled and we had a Mexican night filled with amazing dances and songs of Mexico. And over the past few weeks, we have been learning the Mexican National Anthem. So at the end of the presentation, we had the flag ceremony and all of the missionaries in the CCM sang (or rather shouted) the Mexican National Anthem together. It was so much fun and such a cool experience! It is such a blessing to be able to see a different culture, and especially one that is a part of my heritage, like that. It was kind of like getting a hug from Mexico ;) and what was just the topping of the cake (tres leches cake to be exact) was that we got to go to the Mexico City Temple today as well! We weren't able to go inside and do sessions because its closed for renovations, but we got to go to the Visitors Center and talk with the missionaries there which was just super awesome! All temples are just amazing and such a blessing. And lets be honest, it was also a blessing to finally get out of the walls of the CCM and see the city that we are living in ;) So we got to experience so much of Mexico these past two days. And yes, we are living in Mexico, but really the CCM is kind of like a little spot of America here, so these past two days were really something special. I just love it here so much and I can't believe that I only have a week left! I mean, we say goodbye to people we meet and become friends with EVERY WEEK. But now its almost my turn to be the one to leave. And thats crazy. And somewhat terrifying. But I am so very excited to finally get to Seattle and share what I know and love with real people!
One other funny thing that happened this week. So my companion is amazing and I love her so very much. And she looks like a little bit like Jeanette McCurdy, the girl who plays Sam from iCarly, right? Basically she is a celebrity here in the CCM because of it, and it is the funniest thing ever. We have had grounds workers, to teachers, to fellow missionaries all come up to us and ask about it.So we had a bunch of Latina friends just leave this past week, and we were all taking pictures with them outside of the Comedor (lunchroom), right? And after we were done taking pictures with our friends, literally every single latino elder comes up to us and asks for a picture with 'Sam' aka my companion. So I think we took over 100 pictures with people that we DID NOT know that day because my amazing companion looks like Sam from iCarly ;) oh the adventures of México ;)
Last thing I want to share with all you of amazing people is what I learned on a Spiritual level. This past week, we have focused a lot on forgetting ourselves, and giving ourselves completely over to the work we have a missionaries. The Director of the CCM also spoke on this in one of our Sunday Devotionals, and its was just one of my favorite talks I've had the pleasure of hearing in the CCM. What he talked about was Lot's wife. Do you remember her? The woman of the Old Testament who was living in Soddom and Gummorah with her family when the Lord commanded them to leave and to "not look back." Well, what did she do when they were leaving the city? She looked back. And as a consequence she was turned into a pillar of salt. She had not left the city behind in her heart, and desired to go back. She didn't want a new life, even though she knew it was a commandment of God to leave behind her past and never look back. And that is why she was turned into a pillar of salt. Now, Im not saying that anyone is going to be turned into a pillar of salt. However, in a way, all of us have been asked to leave our own Soddom and Gummorah. We have been asked to leave behind our old ways, habits, and thoughts and we have been asked to follow Christ. We have been asked to follow His example, and become more like Him. But we cannot do that without change. Without changing ourselves. And it isn't going to be easy. But we have been promised that it will be worth it. One thing the director said that I really liked was that "Faith always point to the future" and I know that that is true. When we act in faith, and leave behind our pasts, without looking back in longing for them, we move toward a better future where we are happier.God never said that any of this would be easy. But He has told us that it would be worth it. It is not always easy being a missionary and living with new rules, in a new place, with a new purpose. But, I know that it is worth it. So that is the message that I want to leave with all of you. Remember Lots wife, and have a little more faith. And don't ever look back. The past is to be learned from, not lived it. And the future is full of happiness and endless opportunities. And go toward that future with faith.
I love all of you, and hope that you have an amazing week. Today Mexico City, Tomorrow Seattle!! (actually its next week, but you get the picture)
Thursday, September 11, 2014
But I did have some really neat experiences this week!!
First thing, was that I met a woman whose dad was baptized by my own Grandpa Briones when he was on his mission!! She works in the CCM now, and came and found me in my classroom just to meet me. It was such a neat experience that really touched my heart. She just kept saying home much missionary work means to her, and how much it has blessed her family. She told me to remember that I never bring just one person unto Christ through baptism, but that it will affect many people for generations to come. And now I get to see her all of the time and even do service with her on Mondays!! Yesterday we cleaned the gym with her, and it was so fun. She tells everyone who I am and she's taken like 4 pictures with me every other time she sees me. Its just so sweet and really puts into perspective how important missionary work it. It really is such a blessing to have the chance to meet her and share our testimonies together. I am also so very grateful for my Grandpa and the service that he gave. It really is so special to me that I get to share in that a little bit with my time here in Mexico.
My companion and I also made lots of new friends this week!! The more our Spanish improves, the more we are able to expand our circles, and it is such a blessing!! The native people here are just amazing and so so so very friendly. Really, learning Spanish is just the greatest thing. And we have so much fun doing it!! Really, we just have fun all the time.
Also, this week, I have learned that the gift of tongues is real. My companion and I have both been soo blessed with learning the language. We still have a long ways to go, but the more we practice and have faith in ourselves and God, the more we are blessed with the language! It really is just the coolest thing to give different lessons of the gospel in Spanish everyday and also feel the Spirit despite the language barrier.
One lesson that I really learned this week was of testimony and conversion. We had soo many devotionals and classes about it this week, and it really strengthened my testimony and helped me get through the harder parts of the week. What we learned is that there is a difference between having a testimony and being converted. Having a testimony means having knowledge. That is basically it. But you can know that something is true or real without every doing anything about it. Conversion is when you use that knowledge that you have gained and use it to change you. Conversion is change. And it is only through actively trying to become better, serving others, and follow the example of Christ, that we are actually converted. Conversion is a life-long pursuit, but it is only through conversion that we can actually become better. Its going to be hard, and it is going to be even harder to help others do this as well, but now more than ever it is important that we are truly converted in order to stay strong.
I love you all so much!!! I hope everything is going well! Know that I miss you all and pray for your successes. Thank you for all of your amazing examples that you give, they have blessed me more than you will ever know. All of my love from Mexico!!
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
So I am officially half way through my time here at the CCM!! Time has gone by sooo unbelievably fast, and I have loved every second! I have come to love the place and people here so much, its going to be soo very hard to leave in 3 weeks. So I am very grateful for the time that I still have here ;)
So the theme of this week was humility. Especially for myself. Its so easy to get out here and when you have success, to think it will always be that way. And maybe it will be for somethings. But definitely not everything. I had gotten into the habit of thinking that because I was learning Spanish so well and such that I was ahead of some people around me and let it get to my head, and to be honest slacked off. Not intentionally, but out of feeling comfortable. The lesson that I learned was that if you are not constantly working to progress, you are digressing. Not a very fun lesson to have to learn, but definitely necessary. Never let yourself plateau. Always strive to be better, work harder, and serve more. Now, instead of judging how those around me are progressing, I focus on what I can do to be better and help those around me as much as possible as well. Its been such a blessing, and although it can be hard to be humble, it will make you so much happier and help you do so much more.
Another theme of this week was the Atonement!! Seriously everyone, if you have not studied this gospel topic in a while, DO IT! And if you are a little confused by what I am talking about, I am talking about the sacrifice that Christ made so that we could all be happy again and return to live with our Heavenly Father. There is nothing that gives more hope, at least in my opinion, than this right here. It is because of the Atonement that I can wake up with a smile on my face everyday and thank God for all of the amazing things in my life. It is the reason that I chose to be a missionary. It is the thing that makes this church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, worth it. And it is what makes the message that I carry as a representative of this church one of happiness. If you are having a hard time, or need a pick me up, or something to motivate you to do good I would study this topic. Because that is what I did this week, and it has made all the difference in how I view those around me, those I teach, and those I will have the opportunity to teach in Seattle Washington. If you need a place to start, find a Book of Mormon and read it. That book is full of examples of the Atonement and how it can bless you life. Trust me, you don't want to miss out on the greatest gift given to mankind :)
So now that I have shared my spiritual thought, here's to some other stuff ;)
I LOVE LATINOS!! I seriously can't express the joy that they give me in my life. My companion and I had the wonderful opportunity to become great friends with some Latino hermanas who are going to be serving in Mexico, and it was the greatest blessing! They were so unbelievably sweet and kind and boy did they talk fast!! ;) But really, it is such a blessing to have been called to learn the Spanish language. Without it, I would not have met these amazing sisters. The sad part is that they left the CCM this week to go and share the gospel with the wonderful people of Mexico. But now we are friends forever in the gospel ;)
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
The number one thing that I have learned is true is that the days feel like weeks while on a mission, but the weeks feel like days. Seriously, it is insane how fast time goes by here. It seems like just yesterday that I was sitting down and emailing you! I think this is really how every missionary feels, and I guess it feels pretty cool to be a part of that club now. You know you are jealous ;)
But I seriously love love love being a missionary!! I come to love it more and more every day despite the fact that I am always exhausted to some degree and I am still pretty awful at speaking Spanish (baby steps, baby steps). It seriously is the most wonderful blessing to be a servant of the Lord 24-7. And that is the sole responsibility that I have for 18 months! It is just so amazing.
The CCM only becomes more beautiful the longer I am here as well. It becomes really easy to forget that you are right in the middle of Mexico City... until you hear sirens ;) but really it is such a blessing to be here. I know that making this school into an MTC was inspired, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to be here.
And we received two new investigators this week!! (well, teachers that volunteer to be taught by us) it is such an amazing thing though to be able to learn how to teach and bring the spirit in Spanish! The first week it was soo hard, but now I have officially given two whole lessons completely in Spanish and I didn´t even have to refer to any of my notes! The gift of tongues is such a real blessing, and although I still have lots to learn, it has already made such an impact in my life. Anyways, our two new investigators are Omar and Teresa! if there is one thing these two have already taught me is that it is not enough that I know that I have a message that will forever change and bless their lives. They are children of our Heavenly Father, and I am only their as a loving guide to bring them back to Him. Missionary work truly is all about serving and loving, and being their to help in whatever way you can. Just from teaching these teachers in the MTC, I have gained so much love for all of the people that I will meet and teach in Seattle. I am just so excited and honored to be a part of this work ;)
One thing I learned this week, which was such an amazing experience is how eternal missionary work really is though. We had the opportunity to watch The Mountain of the Lord, which is a movie about how the Salt Lake Temple was built by the early saints. It really is such an amazing movie, and I highly recommend it. But after watching it, and heading back to the classroom with Hermana McDougal, we were talking about it and something hit us that neither of us had ever thought about before. If any of you have seen the Salk Lake Temple, its hard to look at it and not think how there is no way that ordinary people made this amazing building. I have been to Temple Square many times, and I catch myself thinking this basically every time. But what occurred to us was how missionary work is like that temple. We are ordinary 18 and 19 year old kids. Nothing spectacular about us, nothing special. Just ordinary kids. Nothing really, in perspective of the Universe. But we have been given a chance to literally and completely change peoples lives because of the message that we bear. How many people do you know can say that? And what is even more incredible is that we do not really do any of the changing at all. It is all by the power of God. We are just blessed with the amazing opportunity to be the conduits and guides. It was such an incredible moment to know that I, Sierra Brooks, have been given the opportunity to change peoples lives for eternity. And I was so humbled and it really is just such an incredible gift to be out here, in Mexico City, preparing to teach the Spanish people of Seattle. I am so honored and blessed.
I also want you all to know how much I love you all and pray about you! Know that you Father in Heaven also loves you, more than you could ever know. Dont be afraid to talk to Him, because He is always ready and anxious to hear from you. You are more special and amazing than you could ever know. You are a child of God.
Really quick, I just want to share a small part of my testimony in Spanish, (yikes, I hope it is right... fingers crossed)
Yo sé que Dios es nuestro Padre Celestial. Yo sé que esta iglesia es la iglesia de Dios en la tierra hoy. Yo sé que soy una hija de Dios, y que Jesucristo es mi Salvador. Yo sé que Cristo vive, y que Él sufrío por mis pecados y desafios y debilidades. Yo le amo a mi Salvador. Y yo sé que ustedes pueden saben estas cosas tambien. En el nomre de Jesucristo, amen.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Hey there everyone! So my first week in the CCM (MTC in Espanol) was pretty much incredible. I have learned so many things, and have so many more things to learn! I cant believe that a week has already gone by, but at the same time it feels like I have been here an eternity! But in a good way, I promise :) It was incredible how at home I have felt here, even from the first day when I did not know anyone or anything. The CCM is such an incredible place, filled with soo many amazing people! Everyone here is so nice and welcoming that you feel out of place if you ever feel like complaining about any of the work :)
And boy do we have work!!! From 6:30 in the morning until 10:30 at night, all we do is learn Spanish and learn how to teach in Spanish. I am pretty sure I have never worked so hard in my life... except for maybe finals week... but really, everyday is like finals week here in the CCM, and yet, I love it!! I`ve always been very aware of the value of hard work thanks to my upbringing (thanks Mom and Dad!), but truly it is the greatest blessing!! I have already learned SO much, its incredible! Spiritually, mentally, and physically everything we do here is to help us lean and grow to become better missionaries, better people, better children of God, and better Spanish speakers ;) And when we all work together to accomplish these things, miracles happen!
Speaking of working together, my companion is the most amazing person!! Her name is Hermana McDougal, and she is from Riverton, Utah. She is going to serve in Spokane, Washington after the CCM! *side note: basically 80% of the American missionaries here are from Utah, so I feel pretty cool and special when I get to say I am from Vegas. Everyone else gets pretty excited too :) * Basically, I could not have been blessed with a better companion! She is so loving and supportive all the time. I just love it! We get along really well too, and push each other to be the best missionaries that we can be. I just love her :) OH!! and on Sunday we were also assigned to be the Sister Training Leaders, so we are in charge of how all of the sisters in our branch are doing for the duration of our stay! A little intimidating, considering that we are still the youngest and least experienced in our branch, but I am super excited for the chance to serve them!
And my district is amazing as well!! There are 10 elders with me and Hermana McDougal, and they are all just incredible! We have so much fun together, and they really just teach me so much about what it means to put your trust in God. I am just so blessed with all of the people that surround me daily! They are already become like a family to me, and I know that it will be an amazing 5 weeks (ONLY FIVE MORE WEEKS).
One thing that I have really been aware of and impressed with this week is how much this gospel is a gospel of happiness, and also how much our Heavenly Father loves us. Everything He does, everything He gives us, is to make us happy. Yes, we do have trials in this life, but one thing I have learned in my life is that Heavenly Father is more of an "eternal perspective" kind of guy. He doesnt see as as we are now. He sees us as we can become. We are not just flecks of dust that cover the earth for a time, but We Are His Children, who He loves more than we could ever imagine. We are His diamonds in the rough. But, its going to take a little work and elbow grease to make us the shining, beautiful, strong jewels that we can be. Without our trials and hard times, we could never become as happy and amazing as we could be. When we put our trust in God and thank Him for our refiners fire. That is what I want to challenge all of you, my dear friends and family: do a little more of thanking our Heavenly Father for all of the things that He gives to be happy, but also to thank Him for our struggles. I can attest that you will notice so much more goodness around you every day, and you will have a greater capacity to love and grow, as well as to be happy now, even during the tough times.
I love you all more than you could know! You are always in my prayers.
¡ADIOS MIS AMIGOS!
Con Amor,Hermana Brooks
Sunday, August 10, 2014
I have been called to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Washington Seattle. I am supposed to teach the gospel and serve those in the area in the Spanish language (yikes), and I am so excited to do so!!
I leave on Wednesday morning to the Mexico MTC (Missionary Training Center), and I still haven't packed everything. Typical.
However, I am so excited for this opportunity to serve! I remember when I opened my call in the dorms of BYU in March this year... it seriously seems like yesterday! But now, 5 months later I am preparing to go actually do what I have been preparing for since last Christmas. It seems a little surreal, quite honestly. I'm sure it won't hit me until I actually get on the plane to Mexico City.
But truly, I am beyond excited for this opportunity.
I am not necessarily excited for having doors slammed in my face, or for not being able to see my family for 18 months. But I am excited to share the gospel and hopefully make someone out there feel the love that their Savior has for them.
Today I gave my farewell talk, which was a terrifying and wonderful experience. But in it, I talked about the power that we all have to be ministering angels to each other here on this earth. I know now more than ever that we were not sent here to this earth to only serve ourselves, and make ourselves happy. Our purpose here is to love and care for all of those around us. To do what Christ would do, and not just have it on our bumper sticker. But to honestly and willingly love and care for those around us. I believe that I have a responsibility to do this, and I have been called to do it in Seattle.
The Lord works in mysterious ways. He definitely has in mine. I have no idea whats in store for me as I embark on the Lord's errand for 18 months, but I know that if I strive to be the best missionary I can be, miracles will happen. I have been blessed beyond belief up to this point in my life, and I am excited and grateful for the opportunity I have to give back what little I can to Christ, who has given me everything. I can't do it alone, but I haven't been asked to do it alone either. May God be with you till we meet again. Adios!