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

Monday, October 26, 2015

Hello dear friends and family. The skies are officially grey here in the Evergreen state! AND its Halloween this week! CRAZY!!! I hope everyone has fun trick-or-treating, dressing up, and having fun with those you love :)

I don't have tons of time today, but I just wanted to check in with everyone and say how grateful I am to have the family and friends that I have. I am so grateful for everyone who has supported me, given me counsel, made me laugh, and made me feel of God's love. In one way or another, that should include everyone. Being on a mission has really opened my eyes to how much God has blessed me throughout every phase of my life, and how much power we have to help those around us recognize that. 

We had a great week in the Crossroads Branch, and we had the awesome opportunity of going to the annual Hispanic Conference! It was a blast! :) so fun being together to celebrate this beautiful Hispanic culture! We had investigators and tons of less actives that were able to come, and it was just awesome! We also had many miracles in finding new investigators and finding some people who had gone missing from the branch's radar for a little bit. Heavenly Father never loses track of His sheep, and when we have the desire to help THEM find HIM again, He will bless us with so many miracles along the path. 

I love you all so much, and I hope you have a great week! I PROMISE to send pictures next week. Literally, my camera just died in the parking lot of the library. Hasta Luego!!
-la hermana Brooks 
This is John!

Hola mejores amigos y familia! Espero que todo este bien :) 
I love you all so much! And I wish I was better at being able to tell you all of the amazing experiences and adventures that I have every week. This week was soo full of them! But alas, I do not have the time nor the ability to fit it all in. So I will just share a few of my favorites :)

First of all, I LOVE Hermana Hargis. She makes me delicious food, makes me laugh, and really just knows how to be a great missionary. I really don't feel like I am training her AT ALL. I mean, yes, she is a little older and has a lot more life experience that pretty much all of us missionaries here. But she really is just super awesome, and she brings miracles with her. Literally we have been able to find more less actives in the past 2 weeks than pretty much every other time I have been here! And she just really loves all of these people so much. It is always really stressful bringing someone new into your personal experiences and world because you just don't know if they will love everyone like you do. But I have no worries with Hermana Hargis :) I love it!!

Also, I finally got to play soccer with the branch again!!! (last Saturday is rained a lot, so the activity was cancelled). And guess what?! After 3 months of not playing, I actually wasn't too bad!! Seriously, one of my biggest regrets from my pre-mission life was not learning how to play soccer. Who knew that it was a necessary skill to be a missionary :) AND! What is super awesome is that the branch loves to invite their friends to these activities, so we are always getting introduced to new people to teach! The challenge is actually getting them to become new investigators, but either way, it is awesome how much our members want their friends to be involved. 

Okay, and here is for my favorite part of the entire week. Yesterday, we had our monthly Member-Missionary Fireside, and a very wonderful person got to share his testimony with the congregation! That is right everyone, John Keihnle from the Duvall ward. Oh my goodness, when he walked in I about jumped out of my seat and ran to him! AND HE GREW A BEARD!! but oh my goodness, his testimony was so powerful. I wish I could have recorded it!! It was so amazing, because he bore his testimony about the Book of Mormon. He told everyone about how when he first met us, he told us that he didn't need the church because God already talked to him all of the time. When we asked him what God told him, he told us that we would think he was crazy (its true, we really did). He told us that God had told him to get a bow and arrow and leave to the wilderness.... Now for any of you not familiar with the Book of Mormon, there are some great stories of men who receive similar counsel from God (see I Nephi 16) and so obviously he had to read it! He was having a hard time finding time to read, and so when we found the app that he could listen to it, that is when everything changed. My favorite part about hearing him tell the story of our teaching, was when he said in his very soft voice, "I pushed play that night and I dont think I hit the stop button until I hit the book of Alma" (Alma is halfway through the Book). The whole room just kind of sat in awe at him. All of the missionaries let out an awe-filled "ooohhhh" Literally John listened to the whole Book of Mormon in like 3 days. And then 3 weeks later he was baptized. And he was so filled with light and love last night that I am still on cloud 9. There is something so special about sharing the gospel with someone. It binds people together, and makes us more than just friends, but family. There are many dear people in my life who I consider family, my best friends, teachers, and role models, and so many incredible people from my most amazing mission. I love being a missionary so much. God loves us so much, and it is only up to us to go and find the amazing miracles, peole like John Keihnle who are our neighbors, friends, co-workers, and strangers that need what we have. They need the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

I love you all so much, and I hope you have an amazing week. I pray that you will not be afraid to reach out, love one another, and share what makes you happy. 
Les Quiero Mucho!!
-la Hermana brooks
Sooo... last week was transfers, which is why I wasn't able to send out any emails. AND YOU WILL NEVER GUESS WHAT HAPPENED! I have no idea how exciting this for any of you at home, but needless to say, it was a little crazy for me up here in Washington :)

For the second time, I have been sent BACK to the Crossroads Spanish Branch!!!! Yes, that is right. I have served in Bellevue three times now, and I only come to love it more and more every time I come back :) also, I was released as Sister-Training Leader, but then called to be a trainer of a new missionary for the third time as well! It was a lot of change. But I am sooo grateful for all of the time I had as a STL, because it has given me so much experience that I could not have gained any other way. I know that God has been preparing me for this new assignment for a while, and as soon as I found out what was happening, I knew that it was inspired of my loving Heavenly Father. 

Let me tell you all about my new companion!! Her name is Hermana Hargis, and she is from Kansas City, Kansas. She is not your typical sister missionary. She actually was called to the Washington Seattle Mission back in 2009, when she was injured in the MTC and was sent home where she ended up having 4 major shoulder surgeries! She is now 29 years old, and was called to come back to the SAME mission as her original call!! She finally made it :) haha she is sooo incredible! She was a paramedic for something like 8 years, and she has so many amazing stories. Never a dull moment with her :) I am so terrible, because I don't have any pictures yet of us together, but I PROMISE to have some by next week :) 

A quick update on the branch: everything is different. The Chavez family are still amazing though!! They are in the heart of everything that goes on in the branch now and they are just INCREDIBLE!! A lot of people have moved out and some new faces have come in, and Hermana Hargis and I have a goal to visit/find every single person in our branch list this transfer :) wish us luck!! 

and OH MY GOODNESS the branch is competing in a volleyball tournament in the stake. and they come to the church to practice every week WITH  a coach and basically our friday night voleibol activities have definitely upped their game. haha it is so awesome! More updates to come :) 

Overall, I have been learning a lot about the Atonement lately and how it works in our every day lives. I know that the Lord qualifies who He calls, and that includes me. Often, I have been very discouraged because of the mistakes I have made, the lack of qualifications I have, and the increasing pile of things in my "must-do" list, but I have been reminded over and over again that the Lord really does take us exactly the way we are. I loved that message that rang true to me in General Conference 2 weeks ago. As President Uchtdorf put it, we do not have to be more of anything. We just need to tell the Lord that we are ready and willing and He will come to where we are and walk with us the rest of the way. I love knowing that that is true, and even when I doubt that it is, I am constantly surrounded by those friends and family who remind me :) 

I love being a missionary. I love that the Lord knows exactly what we need, when we need it. He really does loves us sooo much and takes every opportunity to show us that. I hope you all have an amazing week, and I hope that you all have the opportunity to ponderize something from the scriptures :) This week, my scripture is Doctrine and Covenant 123:17. Go find yours! :) 

con mucho amor,
la hermana brooks

Monday, September 28, 2015

Okay, so this week was so hard! But it was also full of miracles! Lets see how much I can get typed in the 15 minutes I have left....

SO! My companion and I had started the week off with a lot of really great goals that we felt would really help change the area and help us see the fruits of our labors. That is not what the Lord had in mind. Not at all.

We met some AMAZING people, one of them whose name was Angela. She is English-speaking, but we met her while tracting, and so to help out the other missionaries, we went back to teach her the first lesson to see if she was really interested in our message. SHE IS INCREDIBLE! And as we taught her the message of the Restoration, she really felt the Spirit and knew that this is something she wanted to pursue. It was soo awesome! But because we are Spanish missionaries, that was the last time we will teach her :( its okay, we love Spanish people too much anyways :) 

Then for the next 3 days literally we could not make anything happen. No one was home, no one wanted to progress, and all of the goals and plans we had made were just not working. We were getting pretty darn frustrated to say the least. We didn't know whether it was our fault, their fault, or what. BUT that is completely not the point. Life is not about finding out whose fault it is. We are all at fault for something. What we need to do is have faith that GOD HAS A PLAN. And that is exactly what He taught us. 
While tracting one night, we knocked into this woman who was on the phone. As soon as she saw us, she got the biggest smile on her face, like she knew who we were! We were super confused, and so we just waited outside as she finished her phone call. It turns out that this woman named Myra has met with missionaries in the past, and was just barely talking to her friend over the phone about how she needs to find a church and make that a bigger priority in her life!!!!! WHAT?! Seriously, miracles. We are so excited to teach this family :) 


okay, well I will fill you in with more miracles we had next week :) But to finish up, this week we had the amazing opportunity of having another MLC, Mission Leadership Council. I love these meetings sooo much. And what President Schofield shared has really hit me. He talked about the light in our eyes that we have as we follow the example of Jesus Christ. We all have this light within us, and every decision we make either dims or brightens it. But we have the amazing opportunity of testifying that we know God lives and that He loves us simply by gaining more and more light. I want to invite all of you to seek for light this week. Before you make a decision, no matter how small, think to yourself if it will add or take away from your ability to shine bright. We can do really simple things, such as reading our scriptures, saying a prayer, and  saying kind words that add more and more light to our eyes and smiles. I also invite all of you to watch General Conference this weekend, it is available on the TV, radio, and live stream online. It will definitely strengthen the light you have, no matter who you are, where you are from, or what church you go to.

I love you all so much and I know that as we are patient in our trials and always have FAITH, God will not let us down. Miracles surround us everyday. It is just up to us to notice them. 
Have a great week! Les quiero!
 - La Hermana Brooks 
Helllooo amados hermanos mios :) Ahhh I literally have NO TIME! Forgive me for how awful this email is going to be. por favor? 

We had a great week in Bothell Spanish! We were able to find several new investigators and really just have so much fun teaching the people of Bothell. And really, the only thing that changed was our commitment to living the gospel joyfully. 
This week we were really blessed to be able to  work closely with a lot of the ward members as well. Our Ward Mission Leader invited his non-member relatives to have dinner with us, which was great! Several families with less-active parents are teaming up with us to help get them back to church (haha that sounds sketchy, but I promise it is all out of love :) 
Also! We went on some exchanges with the Russian speaking sisters!! So they are literally amazing. They are the only Russian speaking missionaries in the Seattle, Everett, AND Federal Way mission, so they literally go everywhere. They are just so incredible! They really inspired Hermana Wrubell and I to work even harder and to really count our blessings for the chance to learn and teach in Spanish. Russian is so hard!
Also, we have this crazy new investigator named Juaquin who has the biggest mullet I have ever seen. He is super funny and thought that he was supposed to start reading the Book of Mormon in the index.... but we squared that away and will start teaching him later this week. So wish us luck!! :) 
The Member-Missionary Fireside was yesterday and was in the North Seattle Stake. It was so awesome being able to see old companions, ward members, and investigators! John got lost on his way there, and so he wasn't able to make it :( BUT! The next one is in his stake, so we will FOR SURE see him there. Also, GENERAL CONFERENCE STARTS THIS WEEK! I am soo excited for the Women's broadcast this saturday, and then the rest will be next weekend! Crazy!!! I just cannot believe how fast time flies by. Its also almost October. Someone make it stop. 

I just really want you all to know that i know that Jesus Christ is my Savior. I know without a doubt that God is our Loving Heavenly Father. There is nothing standing between us and feeling of His love constantly except ourselves. God knew that we would make mistakes, that we would fall down, and sometimes just be too weak. But He never made His love conditional to any of that. I know that the commandments are evidence that He loves us, because He really does know what we need to bring us the most everlasting happiness. If you don't believe me, I invite you to try it out :) I love being a missionary, and I love living the gospel of Jesus Christ. 
Don't forget to pray. Read your scriptures. Choose the Right. It is that simple :) 

I hope you all have a great week! I promise to write better next time :) 
Les Quiero! Dasvedanya! ( I have no idea how to write Russian things)
-La Hermana Brooks
Happy Monday to Everyone!! Also! Happy Birthday to my little sister, Morgan this week! She is getting way too old. Also, Happy Birthday to Mexico, Mi patria! haha thank goodness I am serving in a Spanish ward for this glorious celebration :) 

Anyways! So this week was very interesting. Actually it was pretty hard. But it was also amazing. We started the week off really strong, feeling like we were doing what we knew how to do, and making progress in our area. THEN we had a big zone conference that focused all on Becoming Consecrated Missionaries. We talked about the what it really means to serve God with all of your heart, might, mind and strength, and how we as a mission can come closer to that. It was all based off of a talk from Elder Tad R. Callister, which is amazing! If you can find it, read it. It applies to so much more than just missionay work. Anyways, so we were all super inspired and I really felt so much love from my Heavenly Father. I felt that I was given the exact help that I needed to become the missionary I am supposed to be. So my companion and I set some goals, and really committed ourselves to being more consecrated missionaries, ready to get to work and see thousands of miracles.... and then Heavenly Father reminded us whose work it is. We saw hardly any success the rest of the week. No one came to church, our only serious investigator stopped progressing, and we could not find ANYONE at home. We had no idea what had happened! And so we were talking about it last night, and it really hit me the importance of enduring with humility. We got so caught up in how successful we would be with our new goals, that we had lost our focus. Everything we do as missionaries is to help point ourselves and others to Christ. Numbers don't do that, the praise of others doesn't do that, only pure honest hearts trying to become more like the Savior can do that. So anyways, it was a really good lesson to learn, and I am very grateful that we don't have to be perfect. We just have to allow Christ to help us through our weaknesses and imperfections to help us become BETTER. Life is all about progression :) 

ALSO!!! JOHN GOT BAPTIZED ON SATURDAY!!! When I found out, I was practically crying tears of joy and sorrow at the same time. Joy because he was able to finally become clean and come closer to the Savior through baptism. Sorrow because I couldn't be there :( But! Some of the sisters that we are over were able to go, and so they said they got a program for me and that it all went beautifully :) hopefully I will get to see him at the missionary fireside next weekend!! 

Anyways, I am pretty much out of time, but I want you all to know that I know that Jesus Christ is real. He lives. He did what He said He did. He understands us so perfectly, and completely, and He loves us wholly. Life is not about micromanaging ourselves so that we don't ever mess up. It is about acknowledging that we are imperfect, that we do need help, and then going to the only person who can help us. He wants us to be happy, soooo happy. And He is willing to do anything for us to help us achieve that. We just need to have faith in Him and try our very best. I love yo all, and I hope you can remember the Savior in your thoughts as you may come across trials and hard things that we can't really explain. I know that He will help you.
Les Quiero!! 
-Hermana Brooks

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Hello once again:) I hope everyone had a great week! One thing I can tell you is that it is definitely fall here. I have worn a coat/jacket every single day and it is awful. Haha well, actually it isn't awful, because nothing on a mission is awful. I love it all. But I am really going to miss the WONDERFUL summer here in Washington. As long as I still have some time before it starts getting dark at 4 o'clock again I will be okay :)

So we had a really great week in Bothell again. We are continuing to meet and find new people everyday, and many of them are prepared to start making the changes in their lives that they need in order to obtain the happiness they so desperately want. That is where it all has to start really, regardless of who you are. We have to recognize exactly what/who we want to become and then set goals and make plans to become that person. And that is what the gospel does, it gives us the tools we need, and the divine help and support that we need to overcome anything and everything to help us become that. It is such an incredible thing :) 

And please pray for  Ashley!! She is sooo incredible! And on Wednesday, she committed to prepare to be baptized on September 26th! But her family is really struggling right now, and it has
​been hard for her to come to church and read. When we taught her last, she really opened up how much she wants to come closer to her Heavenly Father, especially to help those she loves. But the enemy is working really hard on her, and so she could use all of the prayers she can get. Por favor y Gracias!!!

I dont have tons more time, but I just want to bear my testimony to all of you that I know that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is real. I know that even though I am imperfect, God still loves me and listens to me. He has forgiven me for so many of my shortcomings, and He will continue to strengthen me, bless me, and help me to become better and stronger every day. He is perfectly patient and perfectly loving. He allowed for His Son, Jesus Christ, to come down to earth and be hated, persecuted, experience all of our sorrows and sufferings, and eventually be crucified, so that we can all obtain forgiveness and peace. He will never abandon us. He will always be our number one supporter in our righteous efforts, and our number one source of comfort and peace in our trials and shortcomings. I have had the opportunity to really learn that this is true, and I really love it with all of my heart. That is why I am a missionary. Because although I am STILL imperfect and STILL make mistakes, I can help people come closer unto Jesus Christ. It is such an incredible gift. 

I love you all so much! ALSO!! Happy birthday to my wonderful mother!!! And Happy Anniversary to my amazing parents!!! I am so lucky to have both of you in my life. I would not be here if it wasn't for you two :) 

Have an amazing week everyone!! Don't forget to pray! 
-con amor, 
La Hermana Brooks 

I hope everyone had an amazing week and was able to recognize at least a few of the miracles that God put in your path. :) 
Our first full week in Bothell has been AMAZING!! And when I say amazing, I don't mean that we found 10 people who are ready to be baptized, and I dont mean that we didn't struggle. But we were able to have so much fun and see miracles literally everyday. 

So, Hermana Wrubell (she is from the same ward as my Grandma Brooks in Cedar Hills, UT!!!) is completely amazing. I don't think I have ever had a companion as focused and hard working as she is. She knows her purpose like the back of her hand. And like I said last week, she is a fireball! So it is really fun to work with her. Especially this week, we were lost pretty much the ENTIRE time. We have no idea how to get around Bothell. But regardless of getting lost, being late, and smoothing over some bumps in our teaching as we learn how to teach with one another, we were able to find a deep love for our new area and for each other. She really wants to be the best missionary she can be, and she is willing to do anything to be that. So I am really excited to work with her for as long as the Lord sees fit :) 

We are really focusing on finding new investigators right now. Since the area didnt have its own missionaries for the past 6 weeks, the work really slowed down and was not progressing. So as we got on our feet as quickly as we could in a new area, we have slowly been able to find more people to teach. We are also really focusing on Christ-like attributes this transfer. I have been able to see more and more clearly throughout my mission the necessity of trying our best to be like Jesus Christ and allowing Him to help refine us. Don't get me wrong, we are who we are for a reason. We have been given divine gifts, talents, and personalities. But if we go throughout life never seeking to progress or become BETTER versions of ourselves, we lose the potential to become more than we currently are. Life is about change, and if we allow ourselves to be enslaved by the version of ourselves we think we are, not the celestial, perfected versions of ourselves God has promised we can become through His Son, Jesus Christ, we are wasting our time. We are not expected to attain perfection in this lifetime, but we sure are expected to try. Sorry, tangent over :) 

An interesting thing that happened this week was a huge storm that blew through our mission all day Saturday. My companion and were actually out walking, doing our normal missionary thing (haha we had NO IDEA what was going on) and all we could tell was that traffic was really bad and the wind was really strong. So we get in our car after trying to find a few people at home (and not much luck) and as we get into the awful traffic, we see huge branches from trees allll over the sides of the road, falling onto power lines, and pretty much everywhere in sight. Turns out that the greater Seattle area (I am not 100% sure where...) completely lost power from it! Our apartment was out of power for 24 hours, and it was definitely an adventure trying to get ready for bed and church in the morning (it was so dark and cloudy in the morning that it did not make much of a difference that it was 'morning.') Haha it was crazy! But all the while, I was able to be grateful for the peace and security that the Gospel brings. As members of the Church of Jesus Christ, we really have no reason to fear as long as we are obedient and strive our best to be prepared for the storms that come in life, both physically and spiritually. 

We are having so much fun in Bothell and are ready to prove to the Lord that He can trust us to do a great work wherever He puts us. I really just love being a missionary :) OH!! And update for John: the Zone leaders over his area said that he is still doing okay and progressing towards baptism!! yay!!! Pretty much I am always on the look out now for missionaries in Redmond (when we have big mission things and such) so that I can ask them about him. GAH!! Im okay :) 

Well, I just want to challenge you all to commit this week to being your best self that you can be each day. Sometimes our best today will not be our best yesterday. But that does not mean that we should stop trying. I really truly love you all so much. I am sorry if I have ever been a cause of doubt, anger, frustration, or pain. There have been many days (and still are) where I am not my best self. But I know that God loves us all so much that He will never deny us the opportunity to try again and be better. In fact, He loves us so much that He will give us any and all help that we need as long as we are willing to accept it. 
Hasta Pronto!! :) 
-La Hermana Brooks 
So, I don't have tons of time today. But I wanted to fill you in super quick! So last week in Duvall was literally incredible. We committed a man named John to be baptized on September 12, and he is probably one of the most prepared people I have ever met in my entire life. I have never met someone so close to the Spirit. He read all of 1st and 2nd Nephi in the Book of Mormon in two days, and when we talked about it he said that it had literally been exactly what he had been searching for his entire life. He has finally found where God wants him to be. He does want his baptism to be at exactly sunset. So he is also a little eccentric. Agh! I just love him so much!!!
We also found sooo many new people to teach, did sooo much yard work (my shoulders are still sore from cutting so many branches) and really just had the most fun of the entire transfer! It was such a miracle to feel like we really were fulfilling our purpose and doing what the Lord expected us to do in our area... and then last night happened. 

We got a call that both Sister Lawson and I were being transferred. Two brand new missionaries, who have no idea who any of these people are will be coming and taking over everything that we started. And I am not complaining, because I know that it is the will of the Lord, that He has a plan, and that we did everything we were supposed to do while we were there. But it is still hard to just up and leave. To have the people that we love and served feel abandoned. We were blessed to be able to go and see John early this morning before he left to work to tell him goodbye. We all cried, and he told us that he would stay strong and listen to the next missionaries. He knows what God wants him to do and there is nothing that would make him back down from that. He asked if he could hug us, and we had to tell him no :( but we committed him to coming to the missionary firesides that we have every month so that we could see him after his baptism :) 

But the update for me is also incredible and such a blessing! I am now in Bothell, serving in the Spanish WARD (not branch!) and am serving as Sister Training leader, with newly called STL Hermana Wrubell!! I was able to work around her a little bit a few transfers ago, and I am so excited to do it now! She is really just a fireball, and loves to work, work, work. She even served in the ward before, but a different section of it, so it will be super awesome to have her teach me the ropes! While I am really sad about leaving Duvall, I am sooo happy to be back speaking Spanish and serving in a brand new area! Sisters have never been here before and it is going to be just amazing with all of the miracles we are going to find! 

I dont have much more time, but I just want you all to know that I love you all so much. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is Gods true church on the earth today. And I also know that He knows each of us personally and individually. And He loves us perfectly. I know that we can all know that more fully as we read from the Book of Mormon. I invite you all to read from it every day this week. It doesn't have to be a lot. But it will make all of the difference, no matter what. 

Les Quiero!!
-la hermana brooks

Monday, August 17, 2015

Hello dear loved ones! I hope you all had a wonderful week! I feel like I start these emails the same every single time... so sorry about that. I will try to get more creative :) 

Well, This week was tons of fun for us in Duvall! We were able to do sooo much service around the community and just with individual people as well. Every week, we go to do service at a local transitional housing for women coming from abusive situations called Acres of Diamonds. Usually it is just use missionaries, and we sort, clean, and pretty much do whatever needs to be done. But this week, about 10 minutes after we started, another girl joined us, who just happens to be one of the struggling youth we are trying to work with in the ward!! She came in and we were able to have tons of fun as we sorted donations together, and really start to build a relationship with her. It was definitely a tender mercy from the Lord :) 

We also had an appointment with a former investigator who has been meeting with the missionaries for YEARS and is best friends with a lot of the members. The only catch is that she never wants to act on the message to find out if it is true. Frustrating. But anyways, so we got to go and see her this week, and as soon as she opened the door, she was like "I thought it would be a good idea for us to make duck tacos together to get to know each other!!" ummm what?! haha so we ended up making the weirdest tacos of my ENTIRE life. The Spanish Branch may disown me if they ever find out :) haha but yes, they were DUCK tacos with CHERRY salsa and cucumbers in them. It was soooo weird. Not awful. I have definitely had worse. However, I would probably never call them tacos again.... cause it just seems wrong. 

We were also able to find FOUR NEW INVESTIGATORS this week!!! It was so cool! Duvall is one of the hardest areas to find new investigators because of how small it is. Pretty much EVERYONE has met the missionaries before, EVERYONE has their own church and they are "content," and EVERYONE has a friend who is a member, so why would they talk to us when they can just give their friend a call? It is just awesome. BUT the Lord has us here for a reason, and this week we were definitely blessed! Dont get me wrong, I LOVE it here a lot :) but there are some days where it is definitely a refiners fire :)

Sunday ended on kind of a sad note, when we went to go and visit one of our investigators, John. When he opened the door, all he said was that Michelle (his girlfriend) just barely found out that her father had passed away. he quickly ushered us in and asked us to help comfort her because he really had no clue what to do. So we spent our Sunday evening trying to comfort a woman who, minutes earlier, had received news that her father had unexpectedly passed away. It was so heartbreaking to sit by her side and just focus on helping her breathe. it ended up being a long night, and we were able to help her get to the point where she could eat something. But as we left her with a prayer, I was so grateful for the knowledge that I have of the Plan of Salvation. I know that there is more after this life. I know that because the priesthood was restored through Joseph Smith, I am sealed to my family and I need not worry about what lies ahead because we can always be together. That is so comforting to me,and I am truly so grateful to have that assurance in my life. That is why I am a missionary. That is why this message is important to everyone.

I love you all so much and I am so grateful for all of the love and support I get. I may be horrible at replying to emails and letters, but really I appreciate it so very much. I pray that as we all go forward this week, that we may be able to spend time with those who we love. Don't ever be afraid to tell someone that you love them, never hesitate to give someone a hug. This life is so precious, but it is not the end either. God intends for us to ETERNALLY happy with those who we love as we strive our best to be worthy of those promises.

Les Quiero mucho!!!!!
-la hermana brooks

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Hello dear friends and family!! Sorry I don't have tons of time to write today, but since I didn't get anything out last week, I think an update is in order! 

So Duvall is super beautiful. Farms, trees, sunsets that look like water-colored paintings! Really it is like living in a fairy tale, the land is so beautiful. This past week, however, was a little rocky in our picturesque town. I have never had so many doors slammed in our faces! Haha I mean, it is fine. An adventure for sure! But pretty much every one here is pretty religious, so when we come knocking they are not too happy. But we do also meet a lot of really awesome nice people! We have this one investigator named Dan who lives out in the sticks. He is such a sweet heart! He basically treats us like his grandchildren, and wears the shortest shorts I have ever seen old men wear. But we love him anyways :) this week we had a really great lesson with him and an older member couple. It turns out that all of them have been in biker gangs before! We have the coolest members out here :) but yah, hopefully Dan will be able to come to church this coming week! 

We also had a lot of investigators drop us this week. Well, I don't think you could really call them investigators. Really they were just people who had decided to be nice to us when we knocked on their door, told us that we could come back, but really were not interested at all when we showed up. Funny how some people just don't think that we are very serious :) We also tracked into a haunted house!!! Just kidding, it probably isn't haunted. But it sure looks like it! The cool thing about Redmond is that there are wild black berry bushes literally everywhere. And so this awesomely scary looking house is quite completely covered in these bushes, which makes it even more awesome! no one answered when we knocked on it, but there was definitely something moving inside. We haven't exactly decided if we are going to go back and try it again yet.... :) 

And I got to see a man's turtle farm this week!!!! Oh my goodness, so we were walking down this road after visiting someone, and there is this man working in his front lawn. We, of course, asked if he needed any help, seeing as he was the only one working on distributing this huge pile of bark in his driveway. He thinks for a second, shrugs his shoulders, and goes "sure, follow me." So we follow this man to his backyard where he shows us his TURTLE FARM! He explained that he takes care of over 150 turtles, and has over 200 animals total. And so he let us help him move the turtles, clean out their bins, and basically he just showed us around. It was awesome!! I was so upset when I realized that I didn't have my camera with me :( but we made sure to give him our number in case he ever needed more help. So pray that he calls us soon so that I can get some pictures for ya'll! :) 

Basically I am learning a lot while being out here. It is soooo different than any where else I have served in my mission, and it has been quite the adjustment. But I have been able to learn a lot about how patience and diligence are true signs of love. If we are not patient and diligent, we will never be able to prove to anyone that we love them, especially our Heavenly Father. I pray that as we all go through this new week we can be more diligent patient with those around us. The golden rule does not become any less important or significant the older it gets. That is something that I have truly found to be crucial to a Christ-like life. And the awesome thing is that as we read in the scriptures and pray we truly can develop those attributes and they will become a part of our nature. The gospel is so great :) 

I love you all so much! Let us all have an amazing week together :) 
con amor,
la hermana brooks

Sunday, July 19, 2015

So last week was literally AMAZING!! But right now I cannot even focus on all of the amazing things that happened, but I have just been transferred to Duvall!!! For those of you (all of you?) who have absolutely no idea where that is, basically it is in the middle of nowhere. It is a tiny little town about 20-30 minutes away from most things, and it is an area where I will pretty much only be speaking ENGLISH!! What?!?! I have no idea how to teach the gospel in English......just kidding. But I really do LOVE teaching the gospel in Spanish, and basically I just really miss my Crossroads family right now... BUT I am also super duper excited to be here, and I know that I am going to learn and grow A LOT. Like an insane amount. It is kind of scary. But I am ready for it, it is what I have been praying for. And I know that everything before now in my mission has been preparing me for this. I just have to figure out how....

My new companion is the wonderful Sister Lawson, from a small town in California :) She is actually a convert to the church for almost 2 years now! She is soooo wonderful, and really is just a fireball missionary. I know that I am going to learn a lot from her :) We have only been together for a total of 3 hours so far, but we have been able to talk to each other about some of our goals, and basically we are just ready to hit the pavement running. It is going to be awesome!!

Basically to sum up my last transfer in Crossroads and Overlake, I would say that I have never had so much fun in 6 weeks. We met so many amazing people, and saw so many miracles. From crazy old men who called us his "angels," the miracle Chavez family, and soccer fiestas, every day was an adventure. I learned so much from my dear companions, Hermanas Christiansen and Stoddard, and I am so grateful for these women in my life. They have strengthened me so much. Now it is my job to keep up the progress I have made, and then strive for even better. 

If there is one thing I have learned this week, it is that faith is not a passive, nor stagnant thing. It is real, it is living, and it needs to be an active part of our entire lives. Religion is not a 'club' nor a social phenomenon. It is something that shapes us into who we are, and gives us sunshine on the darkest of days. I am so grateful for my faith in Jesus Christ. It is something that strengthens me every day. 

Yo se que Jesucristo es mi Salvador. Yo se que El vive y que por medio de El, podemos llegar a ser mejores cada dia. Yo se que el poder del la Expiacion de Cristo es real. no puedo negarlo. Yo se que por medio de Jose Smith, Dios restauro su iglesia verdadera. Le amo a mi Dios. Soy su misionera, y voy a testificar de su amor a todos en mi camino. 

I love you all so much. I hope you have a wonderful week. Pray for me and my new area :) Les Quiero!!!!

-la herm
So this past week was really long and hard. We also had a lot of great fun! :) We kick started the week with our favorite Guatemalan, Hermano Garcia in the Cheesecake factory!! Literally I still cannot believe how much food we ate. But it was awesome :) 

Throughout the week, we did a lot of work with other missionaries who are struggling. It is always a very special, spiritual experience when you are given the blessing of having someone in need reach out to you. I have been very humbled, and my heart is filled with a lot of gratitude. What I have probably learned the most this week in doing so is that, in a very real and personal way, there is no hole too deep, no mountain too high, no root too stubborn that Christ cannot overcome. He already suffered for EVERYTHING, every single pain, mistake, misunderstanding, temptation. The purpose of that was not so that we would never experience pain, sufferings, temptations, etc. But instead it was so that when we come to Him for help, He can tell us that He knows how we feel, and He knows how to help. EVERYTHING is a blessing. 

And our new mission president, President Schofield from Heber City, UT is AWESOME!! We got to meet him on Thursday, and basically I already love him and his wife. They are such great examples of charity and love. We are ready to see some more miracles in the Washington, Seattle Mission :) 

Also, David, our awesome Chinese investigator who didn't have faith in God dropped us this week :( It was a really bitter sweet moment, because after praying on and off for about a month, he FINALLY found faith that God exists. It was really cool to hear him tell us that logic and faith do not have to be separate, contradicting things, but instead that they are one and the same. I cannot count the amount of times we tried explaining that to him over the past 3 months. But what was heart breaking, and the reason for him dropping us, is that he feels he cannot have faith in the Christian God. He wants so badly to justify so many things, he just wants to be right, and the fact that Gods laws and commandments tell him otherwise isn't something he is willing to accept. Basically I cried. A lot. It was a really hard, long day. But I know that He will continue to grow in his relationship with God, and someday he will might even accept missionaries again. I have faith :) 

For the Fourth of July, we had to do our weekly planning :( so we didn't get to see any fireworks, which was muy triste. BUT we celebrated regardless by getting all american cheeseburgers, fries, and milkshakes :) our healthy diets had to take the back seat for the night, but it was super fun and TOTALLY worth it :) Go America!!

Oh!! and one more thing :) Yesterday at church, Cristhian Chavez passed the sacrament for the first time and he bore his testimony in church!! Oh my goodness, it was just so special to see the whole family grow stronger and stronger in their testimonies, and it has only been a week since their baptism! Last night, we were able to go have dinner with them, and the Spirit was just so strong in their home. I love this family so much!!! 

Really, I love you all so very much. I am grateful for all of the trials that we have in life because they give us opportunities to grow. I know without a doubt that Jesus is the Christ. He did the things that He said He did. He loves me. He loves all of us. I know that as we come unto Him, He will help us to see miracles every single day. He Lives, and these promises He has given unto us are real. 

I hope you all have an incredible week.
"Look unto Me in every thought. Doubt not, Fear not" Doctrine and Covenant 6:36
-la hermana brooks 

Friday, July 3, 2015

Hello once again dear family and friends, I hope all is well and that you are all having a wonderful summer! This is probably one of the funnest summers I have ever had, and DEFINITELY the busiest. I love it so much :) 

La Familia Chavez was baptized on Saturday!!! AAAHHHHH it was really just the most amazing thing! I cannot believe that a month ago we didn't even know who they were. I Love this family so much!!! We were able to see them every day leading up to their baptism, and every time we could literally see their faith growing! Cristhian and Evelyn were sooo excited and really have taught me a lot about the importance of supporting our companions, whether they are just for the mission, or eternal companions. Really, an ideal marriage and family does not exist until you find a center in Jesus Christ. I know that may sound crazy to some of you, but I promise you that it is true. It is ONLY on a sure foundation of faith in Jesus Christ that we can really overcome everything to become an eternal family. Anyways, so the baptism was just BEAUTIFUL. Everything just seemed to go perfectly, and I know that it is only because of the faith of this beautiful family. Practically the whole branch came to their baptism, and everyone was crying and hugging, and it was just a really special moment to be a part of :) And they are so excited to enter into the temple and be sealed together as a family in one year!!! AHH I just love them so much :) 

Besides the miracle of the baptism, some other great things happened this week. We were able to go on exchanges with Hermanas Dilworth and Flores! Really, I love these two so much :) it is just so crazy to be a sister training leader and to be able to get to know and help them so much. It has been a calling that has strengthened my testimony of the Atonement, both the enabling and cleansing power that it has, every single day. I was terribly misinformed before my mission, thinking that all missionaries were perfect and had no struggles or worries. The opportunities we have to do exchanges and help one another are what make our growth and progress that we have made possible. And I am grateful for the perfect example of our Savior, Jesus Christ, that guides and leads us daily to help us reach our full potential.

Also!!! We get a new mission president this week!! (Technically today, but we don't meet him until Friday). It has been the most amazing 10 months with the Choi's and I can honestly say that I have never had leaders before who have brought me so close to my Savior. Their constant love and support has been tangible every moment of their time with us. But now they have been called to a new place, to serve in the Asian Region, and will be living in Japan. I will miss my Mission Mother and Father a lot, and I will never forget all of the things they have taught me. At the same time, I recognize the divine timing of this change. I am very excited for the new mission president, President Schofield, and I know that he will be exactly what this mission needs to become even more amazing (if that was even possible). 

Well, I gotta run, we still have lots of things to do today. But I love you all so much and thank you for all of your support. Ustedes son los mejores!!!
-la hermana brooks 

Hola a todos!! I hope you all had a WONDERFUL Father's Day spending time celebrating families :) Just a quick shout out to my own father, and all father figures in my life: I LOVE YOU ALL! Thank you for all of the love and support I receive everyday. 

Well, as you can see from the heading, we are very very very busy. I have never gone on so many splits in my life! But because there are three of us, and we have so many people we are teaching, it often comes up that we need to have two of us go to one lesson, and have the other find a female member to go with her to another lesson. Really it is just craziness. And just being away from a companion for any amount of time is stressful enough, let alone being in different parts of the city and relying on others to bring them back safe to you. Haha I dont know if any of you will really understand what I am trying to say, but just let it suffice that we are being stretched and stressed a lot. But we are seeing a lot of miracles from it. 

Okay, but here is the most important stuff. The Chavez family is getting baptized on Saturday!!! They are literally just the most amazing and prepared family ever! Cristhian and Evelyn are SOOO in love and they have the cutest kids I have ever seen! So we were a little bit worried about whether or not they would be able to make their baptismal date on Saturday, because Cristhian has been working on living the word of wisdom by not drinking coffee for only 2 weeks, and his work schedule has been CRAZY. so we havent been able to see him as much.So yesterday we decided to talk to them during church and see where they were at, and how we could help them, whether by teaching them certain things, or moving their date. We really didnt know. But as we were talking with them, and our branch mission leader, the spirit was SOO STRONG in this little room. All we did was testify of eternal families, and we knew that they could do it. After, we went walking around the temple with their whole family and planned some details for their baptism. Seeing them take family pictures around the temple was probably one of the coolest experiences I have had on my mission. We all promised that we would be coming back in a year for when they get to be sealed together as a family! Ahhhh!!! I just really love them so so so much. Families ARE the plan of happiness that God has for each one of us. 

Also, we had a great lesson with David this week, our Chinese investigator for the Overlake ward. He has been praying!!! Ahh, it was so cool to hear him pray, and to feel the Spirit. He still struggles with having faith, but we can see it growing every time we come over. He also committed to coming to church yesterday, but then texted us last minute saying that he probably wouldn't be able to come because his friends had invited him to go see Jurassic world (??) really late, and so he probably wouldn't be able to wake up on time. We were so heart broken!! So no, he did not come to church. But when he woke up, he sent us a text us saying that the movie was actually terrible and he feels really guilty for not coming. I consider that progress :) 

oh! and one more story :) On Friday, we were out knocking doors in this little neighborhood by Lake Sammamish (it is BEAUTIFUL by the way) and all of a sudden this old man parks his car on the side of the road and walks right up to us. His name is Pete. At first, we didn't know what to think, because he looked and sounded pretty crazy for about the first 10 minutes. He kept talking about how mormons arent as weird as everyone thinks they are, and how he has a bunch of mormon friends. Really, we just thought he was some kind of crazy creeper guy. And then I cant even find the moment when we realized it, but it turns out he is just the most genuine, happy person I have ever met. He talked with us for about 30 minutes on the street, and really was just doing everything he could to make us laugh and also be receptive to what we said. He even invited us on his yacht (turns out he is a marine pilot!!) and when we told him we werent allowed to, he promised us that it was "Mormon Safe" hahaha. Now he is officially invited to all of our weddings, and he cant wait to see us again! Yesterday we dropped off a pie a member had given us, to him for Fathers Day (and mostly because we did not need to have our own pie) and you'd have thought that he had won the lottery! haha I just love all of the cool and crazy people we get to meet everyday. Missions are the coolest! 

Well, to hurry and wrap things up, I will just share something I have been studying a lot lately. It has to do with Eternal Families. I am so very eternally grateful for my family, and for all that they have done for me to help me become who I am. Really, there is nothing greater than having an eternal family, and no more worth-while goal. In the end, all we get to take with us is our knowledge and hopefully, if we are worthy, those we love. Dont ever take your own family for granted. Dont do anything to jeopardize your own opportunity to one day have a family of your own. They are one of the greatest gifts Heavenly Father has given to us. Also, never forget that we are all a part of our Heavenly Fathers family. Let us love one another a little more. I love you all so much. 
-la hermana brooks

Sooo many things happened this week, I don't even know where to begin!! 7 days is just too many to have to keep in order, and so much changes in a week it is hard to wrap my head around it! But because I love you all, I will try :)

Mostly this week consisted of la familia Chavez :) We were able to see them every single day and have so many incredible lessons! They are some of the most prepared people I have ever met. On Tuesday, we were able to teach them about the Plan of Salvation, and they LOVED it. Gael, their 8 year old son was able to say the closing prayer, and it was so cute!! He was nervous about it, so I offered to help him. As he was repeating me, I was thinking of what to say, and so I said "yyyyy" and in his little voice, he also said "yyyyy" haha his mom couldn't help but laugh, and at the end told him that he needed to work on his prayers. :) On Thursday, we were able to put them on date!! They are now preparing to be baptized on June 27th!!!!! He has to give up drinking his coffee, but we have the faith that they can do it, and they are all so excited! On Friday they came to our branch voleibol activity and everyone loved them, and then on Saturday they came to see a baptism for Farjam, an Armenian guy the elders were teaching. (Fun Miracle Fact: Hermana Hales, Oliphant, and I found him in April and gave him as a referral! So cool!!) Yesterday they came to church, and basically I just love this family so much!! They are so lively and happy, and their light literally gets brighter every time we see them. It is so incredible to see how the Lord prepares His children! 

We were also able to go on a few exchanges this week, and I got to spend 24 hours with the wonderful Hermana Oliphant in Sammamish, which was voted Americas #1 nicest city?? But I can totally believe it, because everyone, even those who rejected us, were SOO NICE! haha it is this weird paradox, because it just goes against every other missionary experience I have ever had. But it was cool, and a lot of fun, and basically I just love my dear former companion :) it is really cool to be able to see their growth. It was also really great to be able to return back to our crazy, funny trio and get milkshakes together. :) 

Well, I am sorry that I don't have time to write more. We have zone sports day today, so that means less time for everything else. It is going to be tons of fun though. I hope you all are enjoying summer fun! Up here the weather is BEAUTIFUL!! Today is probably going to be the hottest day we have had and it is only 88... haha sorry Vegas! But I love you all so much! Have a great week, and never forget that your Heavenly Father knows and loves you personally. He is leading and guiding you every step off the way (if you let Him), and He wants you to be HAPPY! You are all so wonderful!!

-La Hermana Brooks 
haha I actually don't know if Milagrosas is a thing, but it sounds awkward any other way. Oh well!
Well hello dearest friends and family! I hope everyone is doing well and enjoying summer to its fullest extent :) I know I sure am! This week has been filled with so many miracles, so many laughs, and I even have a watch-tan!! It cannot get any better than this :) 

So first of all, our new companionship has had a week together, and it is AMAZING! Literally this is the most fun I have ever had. All of us are so different, but so alike at the same time. There is never a dull moment. Never :) We call Hermana Stoddard our hippie missionary if that helps paint a picture. But really, I have been so impressed by her! She is so loving and patient, which is something I am working on right now, but she balances us out perfectly, and helps us never lose the Spirit. It has been a great blessing to work with her this transfer :) I JUST LOVE TRIOS!! 

And speaking of great blessings, we were blessed to find 2 new Spanish families this week!!! Both are brand new from Mexico, and have family members who recently joined the church! One of them, la familia Chavez, was found by the Elders last week. The dad actually was walking down the same street as them, walked up to them, and asked them to start teaching his family!!! How cool is that?? So we were able to meet them on Thursday, and invite them to the Spanish branch. Yesterday they came and LOVED it, and we will be seeing them again on Tuesday! I am so excited!!! Our other miracle family we found last night! We had just barely finished knocking doors, and Hermana Christiansen had to use the restroom, so we hurried to the nearest church building. As we were on our way back out to work, we saw a Hispanic couple walking on the sidewalk right in front of the church building! So we hurry and run out and start talking to them. It turns out, they had just barely arrived in the States about 2 weeks ago, after leaving Mexio where his brother had just joined the church and they had both been meeting with the missionaries!! Whattt??? So we just asked if we could keep walking with them, and ended up being able to answer a lot of their questions about the church, USA, and faith in general. They will be coming to our weekly English Class and want to start meeting with us regularly again!! It is just literally so cool how God plans everything so perfectly, and He trusts us enough to not completely mess up His plan. He just loves all of His children so much! 

The English work has been a little bit slower this week. We were able to see almost all of our investigators though, and really make some head way! Right now we are teaching an Indian man named Shawn. He is soo great, and always makes us delicious food when we come over to teach him. He is really fancy that way. But we had talked to him about fasting, because he has a lot of questions that can only be answered through his personal effort, which he wasnt doing. So we were able to fast with him yesterday, and as we talked with him about his concerns, all it came down to was that he didn't understand the Atonement! We were really able to open his heart, and help him see that many of the concerns he has are through communication and being too stubborn to honestly seek out the truth. It was a really cool moment, and as we taught him about the role and sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the room was full of the Spirit. 

One thing that I have really been blessed with this week is the gift of love. Yesterday at church was one of the most incredible experiences, because I had never felt so much love for so many people at one time. I LOVE the Crossroads Branch, and I know that they love me. Through many months and trials, many different investigators and levels of Spanish, we have come to be united in love and as I looked around in church, I felt like I was at home. It is so amazing how much the gospel can and does unite others. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of love, and that love is for everyone, everywhere. 

I am so grateful for my mission and the amazing experiences I get to have every day. There is not a moment that goes by where I do not feel the amazing grace of God strengthening me and pouring His love on me. And I know that it is not something just for missionaries, but it is something that applies to everyone at every stage in their lives, if they will but open their hearts to Him. We are never alone nor forgotten. We are always loved, prayed for, and important.  

I love you all so very much and I pray that you will seek out the Sunlight, both literally and spiritually this week. I know that we will be more able to recognize and create miracles that way, and the Love of God that we feel will be exponentially increased. 
Les Quiero a Ustedes con todo de mi corazon,
-La Hermana Brooks 

Buenas tardes!! Hola mis queridos hermanos y hermanas :) espero que todo este bien! 

So this past week was CRAZY! We were so busy, and we met so many amazing people, and really there are not words, or time, that could tell you about all of the experiences we have been having lately. There is no better word to describe it other than miracles.

 The week started off with an amazing opportunity of service! It was last p-day, and Hna Christiansen and I were at the local Blueberry farm. (it was awesome and beautiful and we took a lot of pictures :) All of a sudden we got a call from a less-active member, asking us to meet her at wal-mart because she was helping out a homeless family and didn't want to be alone. The wal-mart happened to be right down the street, and so we scurried over there to meet a beautiful Romanian family. Our member ended up giving them a bunch of food, clothes, and toys, and made sure that they had our information to call if they needed any more help! It was a super humbling experience, and really opened our members eyes that the Lord really does trust us and expect us to take care of one another. We had to go, though, since we were supposed to be meeting some people in the hospital at the same time to give them a lesson, so we left. But then the next day, we were able to go and visit with that member, and she shared with us a little more to the story. She LOVES hot wings, and so after she helped out the family, she went into the next door Little Caesars to get some. While waiting for her food, a woman asked her to come and sit by her. She thanked her so much for what her and "her friends" (aka nosotras) had done for that family, and she started asking questions about who we were, and what motivated us to do that kind of service. After talking for a while and sharing the basic message of our church, our member ended up inviting her over to her home, and hopefully she will start meeting with us missionaries!! It was just super cool to see that when we do serve people with pure hearts, the Lord always provides a way for it to reach more than just the person helped. It was a great lesson to me about genuine, selfless service. 

Also, transfers happened!! So nothing really changed between the area and Hna Christiansen as my companion. But guess what??? We are in a trio again!!! haha I am destined to always serve in trios :) but that is 100% okay with me because I LOVE TRIOS and there are so many amazing miracles we will see because of it! so now, la Hermana Stoddard is with us, and she is so amazing. We are Sister-Training Leaders together, and team training Hna Christiansen for her 2nd transfer :) it is just going to be so much fun! 

I just want you all to know that I love my Savior Jesus Christ so much. He has raised me up and helped me become someone who I never thought I would have the potential to become. I know that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can all experience the peace and happiness that will help us overcome any trial, set-back, or temptation. I know He loves each one of you so very much. I wish I had time to tell you everything and to teach you everything I have learned. But I will just have to trust that you can all feel of my love and that someday that day will come. Just not too quickly :) 

You are all amazing! Shine brightly this week, and know that I love you :) 
con carino,
la hermana Brooks 

AHHH!!! Sorry, I am so low on time! And there are so many cool things I wanted to tell you all about this week! okay, I will try my best to type really really fast... so please excuse me if I spell like everything wrong :) 

okay, so FIRST!! We had so many lessons planned for this week. Like really, so many set appointments. It was ridiculous! We were going to get so much done, and it was all going to go according to plan.. and then one by one they ALL started canceling. Like really, I think we only had 2 out of like 14 appointments go through between Monday and Friday... But because the Lord loves us so much and knows that sometimes we just need a little bit of help, we ended up having probably one of the most successful weeks of the transfer! 

One of our miracles was with this woman named Chavel. Now, we have been trying to see this woman for 5 weeks now, and every single appointment we set gets cancelled for some reason or another (she was one of the 12 cancelled appointments from earlier in the week). But we had just had someone else cancel on us, and we were right next to her, so we decided to just go and knock on her door. So we go, and no one answers. But then right as we were about to walk away, she comes walking up the stairs to her apartment! She let us right in and we were able to have a really great lesson on the Restoration of the Gospel! She has actually been super interested in our church for quite some time! She was sick this week, so she wasn't able to come to church, but we are super excited to work with her! And the coolest miracle, was that after talking for a little bit, she told us how on her way home from work, she was about to go and run some more errands, but she had felt a very distinct feeling that she needed to go home. And as soon as she got there, she found us! It was an awesome moment to see the Lords hand in working in our lives. 

Ah! There are so many other great things I want to be able to tell you, but time is up!! I promise to be better next week! I  love you all and I want you to know that being a missionary is the greatest thing. I love it every single day, and I am so grateful for the chance I have to serve my Heavenly Father. 
Have a great week full of miracles!
Les Quiero!!
-la hermana brooks
Hello dear loved ones!! I hope you are all doing wonderfully and enjoying the wonderful transition into SUMMER!!!! I know that I am :) 

We had a really great week of a lot of inspiration and call for some change. Not gonna lie, I was having a pretty rough time the past couple of weeks. I wasn't necessarily unhappy, or sad. But I was more stressed than ever before in my life. and I definitely felt like I wasn't getting the support or help that I needed, which was making it worse. and then on Saturday, I totally got chastised by a member about all of the things I was doing wrong, especially how I never looked happy (that sounds bad, I know... it was not the most pleasant experience BUT it taught me a lot) and as I tried to be humble enough, I started to see Gods hand in all of it. No, He didn't want this person to be rude or outspoken, or even to hurt my feelings. But He did want me to understand that if I wasn't having fun and absolutely LOVING every single moment, then something was wrong. and if others couldn't also see that I was loving every single moment, then that was also an indicator that something was wrong. and so after about a day of being really butt-hurt, I decided that instead of telling that guy what was up, I was going to show him, and in turn become a happier, better me :)

so now, i am starting something new for myself called the Sun-beam project (aka the Happiness Project). Everything I do is going to focus on some key things:
1. Jesus Christ. He is the center of EVERYTHING, and He is the SOURCE OF ALL HAPPINESS. So I figure that He is a pretty good focus to have. If it doesn't remind me of, teach me of, or help me become more like Christ, it is not for me. 
2. I am going to REPENT every day . Not just saying I am sorry, but really changing and evolving and becoming something better. My inspiration was Job 5:17
3. I will be EXACTLY OBEDIENT, to the commandments, rules, etc. Proverbs 29:18 and Mosiah 2:41
4. I will have a BLESSING ATTITUDE. Gratitude for literally everything. 
5. I will write in my journal daily and take at least one picture daily of at least one thing that has brought me and others happiness. D&C 78:19
6. I want to TAKE CARE OF MYSELF. Actually getting ready in the morning and losing the weight that I feel holds me back. I will become the best version of myself every day, and hopefully that best version will get better everyday. not just in the way I look, but in the way I feel. See Articles of Faith #13.
7. I will SMILE ALWAYS!! A smile has the power to change the world. And it is one of the purest forms of a testimony. After all, you are never fully dressed without a smile:) 3 Nephi 12:14-16
8. Be Organized, Neat, and Clean. Decluttering your life has a HUGE impact on everything you do. More Junk=More stress. If it is not contributing to your inner peace and happiness, just get rid of it! D&C 132:8

Wow, so that is a lot. But really it is all so simple! And I am already doing most of these things, just not 100% of the time or with 100% of my heart. But I know without a doubt that all of these things are possible, and they are all connected. Happiness is not just something for the future, or for the perfect summer days. It is for right here, right now. Wherever you are. That is the promise that we receive through the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the great plan of HAPPINESS. So by golly, let us all be a little happier and a little more dedicated to having this be an integral part of who we are! I already feel so much better :) 

Also, highlights from this week! Eliseo passed the sacrament!!!!! Oh my goodness, it was the coolest thing to see him start to become an active member and to live the gospel. He was so very nervous when they asked him to help, but as they started he was just beaming! I was basically crying, it was so cool :) We didn't have anyone come to church, which was rough, but seeing that made everything worth it!

Ahhh there are so many stories I wish I had time to tell you about! But today is zone sports day, and so we have less time to get everything done. Sorry!! But just know that I love you all so much and I wish you all of the HAPPINESS in the world. You are all incredible, and special, and can and will change the world. I want you all to know that I am so happy to be on a mission, sharing the happiest message out there. I love my Savior Jesus Christ, and I pray that all of you may be able to feel of His love and Light in your personal lives every day. LES QUIERO MUCHO!!
-la hermana Brooks 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Okay, so really this was probably the most stressful/busiest week of my entire mission. No joke. But it was amazing!!
It started out with a double baptism on Monday night for Eliseo and Oseas! This was literal madness. So the baptism had to be done before 6 o'clock (chuch policy for Monday nights), and so we planned for the baptism to start at 5:30 and everything would be perfect. Nothing is ever perfect on a mission. It is 5:30 and we are waiting in the church, and the only people who showed up on time were President and Sister Choi (our mission president and wife) and our branch leaders. The opening prayer wasn't even there yet traffic was so bad! So we were all freaking out wondering where everyone was (well, really only where Eliseo and Oseas were) and pacing the church until 5:50 when they finally come in! Oh my goodness, I have never been so stressed in my entire LIFE! But, because Heavenly Father always has everything under control, it all turned out wonderfully after that and attendance was great (and very very late). But Oseas's mom and sister were able to come, and as they watched him come out in his white baptismal suit, they just both started to cry. Oh my goodness, it was so beautiful to see how much love and gratitude that they had in their hearts in that minute. Everything really did go perfectly :) 

Wow, so many things happened this week, it is quite overwhelming to think about what I should write! I will just take you through a quick run through for the rest of it :) 
so we went on 2 exchanges this week, which was AWESOME! I love love love all of the sisters in this mission, and the opportunities that we have to learn from one another are just incredible. I love being a sister-training leader :) 
Also! We were able to find a bunch of new investigators this week! One of them is named Shawn, and he is AMAZING! He had actually been investigating the church a few years ago with his family, when he and his wife got divorced. It pretty much stopped his progression, and it became really hard for him to go to church seeing so many families. But we talked with him a lot (over some crazy indian dessert) and he has committed to learning again and finding a new sense of family and belonging that the gospel can provide. We are so excited! 
And of course I was able to see my wonderful family for Mothers Day :) It was so weird and wonderful to see their faces again and talk to them! Not gonna lie, I definitely didn't know what to say most of the time. But I was overwhelmed with a deep gratitude and love for my family, especially my mother. They have always been there for me, and support me no matter what. Even though we are far away for now, I feel closer to them than ever as I help others strive to have an eternal family as well. 
That feeling of love and gratitude was only amplified as we were blessed to go to the Seattle Temple this morning and feel of the sweet spirit in the House of the Lord. 

I know that this church is true. There is no doubt in my mind. I know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that He atoned for our sins, pains, and weaknesses. I know that His Atonement is real because I feel its power strengthening and cleansing me every day. Nothing we do would be possible without it. It has changed my life, and I know that it has the power to change every single person ever. I love you all so much and I hope you never forget that Jesus Christ loves YOU and that He is always waiting to help you if you will but ask. 

You are all amazing. 
Les Quiero MUCHO!!
 -la hermana brooks

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

There are flowers literally EVERYWHERE!!! Oh my goodness, it is just so beautiful up here in Bellevue, Washington. It takes my breath away pretty much daily. I will try to get more pictures of them so they can take your breath away too :)

Well, I hope you all had an amazing week! Congratulations to my mom who qualified for Boston AGAIN! in her latest marathon :) 
This week was pretty much the busiest week of my entire mission. But it was also amazing. WE ARE HAVING TWO BAPTISMS TONIGHT!! So this whole week has consisted of teaching Eliseo and Oseas all that they need to know before their baptism, getting a program ready, reserving buildings, getting interviews, and making too many phone calls to count. But it will all pay off tonight as they make this very important step of following the example of Jesus Christ. It has been incredible to see their progress since the first day we met them. Eliseo started with a desire to know why his friend, a member, was different after joining the church, and his 9 year old cousin was curious enough to come to church with them. Now, they are both ready to be baptized and more of their family is starting to meet with us as well! MIRACLES!! 

We also had a great week of miracles in the English ward! We were really struggling to find new investigators and to get the work moving. But as we were praying about it, we felt inspired to call as many people as we could in our area book and we came across an investigator named David. He is from China, but has been here ever since he was 9. We called to introduce ourselves and set up a time to see him. We were able to visit him the next day and have a great lesson about finding faith in God. He is very very smart, and has a lot of questions about our church history, and he was able to recognize that he can learn all he wants about facts and history, but until he finds faith it will not matter to him. And guess what?! He came to church for the first time yesterday! We really have a lot of hope for him as he searches in his heart to find answers. 

well I dont really have anymore time. We have a baptism we have to set up!! :) but I love you all so much and I hope that you all can take some time this week and think about the beauty of the earth around you. I know that as we do that we will more easily feel of God's life in our lives and find more peace and happiness. Oh, and Happy Mothers Day to all of the amazing women in my life! You have all gotten me to where I am today, and I am forever grateful for your examples and testimonies that have strengthened me throughout the years. Especially my own mother, who amazes me everyday with her strength and love. LES QUIERO MUCHO!

-La Hermana Brooks 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Hello everyone!! I hope you are all having an amazing week.Can you believe it is already May??? I am having a hard time wrapping my mind around it.
Well everyone, the past two weeks have been the craziest weeks of my mission! I don't even know where to start...

So last week, my beloved companion, trainer, and fellow sister-training leader Hermana Hales went home :( It was really great and really sad. It made me realize that I still have so much to learn before I am ready to go home. SO MUCH! And the fact that in two weeks is my 9 MONTH MARK is making me have daily breakdowns. So that is fine. MOVING ON. So she went home and it was really sad. I cried a lot (typical) and then I settled into panic mode. The next day I was called to be a trainer for the second time, as well as remaining a STL however this transfer, I would be by myself. YIKES!! On top of that, we are now covering the Crossroads Branch AND an English Ward!! It is a huge responsibililty, especially because the missionary work in the ward has been really slow lately, and their are just low on hope right now. But we have faith that miracles can and will happen this transfer! So we have been running around like crazy trying to get the work moving on both sides, planning a baptism for next week, and also teaching my new companion, Hermana Christiansen from Cedar City, UT Spanish and all about missionary life. I don't think I have really taken a moment to breathe yet.... inhale... exhale... okay. 

BREAK! I need to tell you all about my amazing new companion Hermana Christiansen. She is INCREDIBLE!! Really, the new missionaries are so prepared and just amazing. Sorry, I am going to use the word 'amazing' a lot in here. Bear with me. So the first few days in the mission field, she was super tired and pretty much lost. As much as anyone can expect. And then all of a sudden, BAM! She just become dedicated to being a full-time missionary. Spanish is really hard for her,like she couldn't even say a full prayer in Spanish yet. But all within the first week, she has participated in every single lesson, prayed with people on the street in spanish, and given her testimony in church. THE GIFT OF TONGUES IS REAL! AND she is has so much faith. Like it is incredible. We were talking about it yesterday, after some really amazing experiences while knocking on door, and she shared something I thought was really profound. She said that while she was in the MTC she learned that we have to rely COMPLETELY on the Lord. Not just holding his arm for support, or leaning on Him when we are tired, but ENTIRELY. Putting all of our weight on him, and letting Him carry us. That hit me really hard, and I am now working on doing that more effectively. Basically, I just love my companion SO MUCH and I know that we are going to see so many miracles this transfer! 

So missionary work update: Eliseo is getting baptized next Monday!! Really, I have never met a more prepared person. From day one, he has had faith in everything we taught him, and has grown in his testimony SO MUCH! He has a true heart, and real intent, and is making leaps and bounds in his spiritual progress. It has humbled me so much to be able to work with him. We are also working really hard to teach his nephew, Oseas, and niece, Paola, who live with him and are so excited to become members of the church. We are having a meeting with them tonight and with the kids mom to ask permission to help them be baptized! PLEASE PRAY FOR THEM!

Other than that, everything is going really well. Still very stressful, but I am learning to rely entirely on the Lord. I am so grateful for the trials He has given me because I know that they are what I need to become the person He knows I can be. I am so grateful to be a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, this experience has, is, and will continue to change my life forever. I know that this church is true. I know that God is our Loving Heavenly Father. I know that my Savior, Jesus Christ lives and loves us. I hope all of you know that as well. I love you all so much as well. 

con amor, 
La Hermana Brooks  

Hello friends and family!! I hope you all had a wonderful week. I sure did :) It is officially the last week of the transfer (and my companion's mission) so we are working as hard as we possibly can. I will let you know how that goes next week :)

But to pick you back up to speed, let me tell you a little bit about the past 7 days of my life! First of all, it was AMAZING! We were blessed with SO MANY MIRACLES!! Really, I have felt the Lords hand in every aspect of this week, and we have all grown so much. 

Okay, I really have to tell you about how amazing our members are here in the Crossroads Branch for a minute. It all started with Monday night, when we had planned to bring a member couple with us to meet our investigators Berta & Vidal (a hilarious older couple from Jalisco, Mexico) because our Branch Mission Leader had suggested them. When we showed up, it turns out that they were already friends!! It was so crazy, and perfect! They didn't have time for us to have a lesson with them, but we were able to set up a return appointment and have an awesome time hearing them talk and start to bring the gospel into their friendship. 
THEN we got a call from our newer investigator Miguel (from Honduras) when he was having a bad day. He asked us if we could meet with him at the church, and we were like OF COURSE. So we tried calling literally EVERYONE in our Branch to try and find someone who could pick him up (he doesn't have a car) and that could help us in our lesson. Literally no one could do it. We all wanted to cry. Then on our way to his apartment, our elders quorum president called us back saying he could come!!! He was able to pick him up, help us have a church tour with him, and bring him to voleibol, our branch activity the next night!! It was incredible. 
AND THEN!! Remember Luis?? He was my first convert in my mission, and he hasn't been able to come to church for months because of his terrible work schedule :( anyways, on Saturday we got together with some branch members and Luis and investigators to play futbol (I am still sore by the way) in the morning. Then an hour after we all left, we get a call from Luis saying he has a friend who is asking about the Book of Mormon and is wondering if we could come over and teach him that afternoon with him! LUIS IS A MISSIONARY!!! and what was soo cool was that his friend was able to come to church yesterday with his 9 year old brother and now they are both investigators! There were so many more stories I could tell, but that will suffice for this week... Really, I was just AMAZED at the power and dedication of our members and recent converts. Their testimonies of the truth shine so bright and are able to reach even the most unexpected people. It was a huge testimony builder for me :) MEMBER MISSIONARY WORK IS THE BEST! 

Also, a quick May Valley update: Estefany, Cecilias daughter was baptized yesterday!! I am just so incredibly proud of my dear companion Hermana Dilworth and all of their hard work in that area. It has been such a blessing to see the fruits of our many labors together :) and I get to see them this coming Sunday again at our next Member Missionary Fireside! I AM SO EXCITED :) 

Some of our sisters were also really sick the other day, and we were able to cover for them by reading in the Bible to a bunch of super sweet old ladies :)  haha so many things I never expected to be doing as a missionary, but so many things that are just so much fun and help me feel so much love for everyone. 

One of the most rewarding thing of this transfer has definitely been seeing myself and others change. We have had a few bumps in the road, whether in our own companionship or with other sister missionaries, or even investigators. But we have all been able to use the Atonement of Jesus Christ in new and different ways. That is something that I have really been focusing on a lot lately, especially in my studies. Christ's sacrifice wasn't just for our mistakes, it was for EVERYHING! Our sadness, disappointments, weaknesses, pain both physically and emotionally, our misunderstandings, our limits. It should be an active part of EVERY ASPECT of our lives, and all too often we forget that. We forget that we dont really do anything ourselves-- there is always a greater force, a greater Someone helping us. We really truly are nothing, but Jesus Christ did it all so that some day we could become someone better and someone happier. Even someone perfect. 

Here is a quick quote from one of my favorite talks ever by President Uchtdorf, the second counselor in the First Presidency of the Church. It is one that I reflect on and read often, and it helps me to feel that my Savior truly does love me, and that He IS aware of me and helping me in every moment of my life: 

"You are loved. You are dear to your heavenly parents. The infinite and eternal Creator of light and life knows you! He is mindful of you. Yes, God loves you this very day and always. He is not waiting to love you until you have overcome your weaknesses and bad habits. He loves you today with a full understanding of your struggles. He is aware that you reach up to Him in heartfelt and hopeful prayer. He knows of the times you have held onto the fading light and believed—even in the midst of growing darkness. He knows of your sufferings. He knows of your remorse for the times you have fallen short or failed. And still He loves you. And God knows of your successes; though they may seem small to you, He acknowledges and cherishes each one of them. He loves you for extending yourself to others. He loves you for reaching out and helping others bear their heavy burdens—even when you are struggling with your own. He knows everything about you. He sees you clearly—He knows you as you really are. And He loves you—today and always!"

I know that this is true for ANYONE and EVERYONE who reads it. It is true for me, for my parents, my friends, the person sitting next to me in the library right now. It is the absolute truth and nothing we think, say or do will ever make it otherwise. I challenge all of you to read it throughout the week and to pray to your Heavenly Father to know if it is true. I promise you that He will answer you. It may not be while you are on your knees or reading your scriptures (it might) but it will come. 

I love you all so very much. I know that God loves us all more than we could ever imagine.  I hope and pray that you may all feel of that this week as you seek for Him. 

con mucho amor,
la hermana Brooks