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 

Hello queridos hermanas y hermanos!
I hope you all had an amazing week full of the Spirit in Celebration of our Savior Jesus Christ. Easter is really just the Best :) 

So a little bit of catch up, since my last letter home was pretty terrible (its okay, I can admit it :) So last week our companionship had a couple of bumps in the road. Don't get me wrong, we all LOVE each other, but we were having some difficulty having success because one of us were really struggling with obedience and repentance. And let me just tell you, when you are in any companionship, whether two people or three, and one of you is struggling the work just does not get done. Really it is quite terrible. So on Sunday evening we were able to get some counsel from our Mission President, and what was supposed to kind of fix everything just made it worse. Not because the council we received wasn't correct or misguided, but because we were prideful. So it is pretty fair to say that Sunday and Monday last week were probably two of the hardest days of my entire mission so far. It was a struggle to love my companions, especially the struggling one, and I could not get myself to be happy or feel okay. But the wise counsel I have received throughout my life came to my heart to PRAY. Yes, the simplest thing in the world (and yes, sometimes the hardest). I prayed more than ever to help me to be humble and find charity in my heart once again for my beloved companions. I prayed for strength to be the example that I needed to be, and to be able to LOOK UP and see the bigger picture. That night we were blessed to go on exchanges with some of our sisters, and Heavenly Father answered my prayers. I was able to realize that I am no better than any one else. No matter what past experiences I have had, I am still a sinner and am still struggling to be what God wants me to be. We all are. My Heavenly Father blessed me with the humility I needed to see past my dear companion and look at MYSELF. And let me tell you, it made all of the difference. Although we still weren't (and aren't) perfect, we are improving. We are coming closer and using the Atonement of Jesus Christ TOGETHER. 

And we were blessed with MIRACLES because of it! We were able to find 3 new investigators this week who are progressing towards baptism in April and May! One of them, Miguel, was a referral that we had been trying to contact for WEEKS. Literally he was just never home. And then as we were driving, we felt that we should go and try his door, even though we had tried so many times during the day and never had any luck. Because Heavenly Father knows so much better than we do, HE WAS HOME. and the even better news? He has accepted a baptismal date for the 2nd of May and was able to come to our branch volleyball activity the next night. We were also able to find so many more people who the Lord is preparing that we could give as referrals to the English missionaries in our area :) 

AND ESTEFANY AND KARLA ARE GETTING BAPTIZED THIS WEEK!!! Cecilia's daughters are on date to be baptized on April 11th to join their mother in the true church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Please pray for them and their father, Carlos, so that in one year they can be sealed to their family for ETERNITY!! 

I also hope that all of you were able to watch General Conference this weekend! All of the messages were so incredibly inspired, and what I thought was most incredible was that they all focused on the FAMILY. Our families, as unique, crazy, and imperfect as they all are are ORDAINED OF GOD. They are not just a part of Gods plan for us on this earth, they ARE God's plan. As we follow the inspired council of the Prophets and Apostles of our Heavenly Father, we will be able to experience the maximum joy that we can experience in this life, and in the life to come. I am personally so very grateful for my own family and all of the love and support they give to me. I am grateful that I was able to be raised in a home where I was taught the gospel of Jesus Christ and able to live it. I know that we never need to demand perfection, only improvement, and as we do that, Jesus Christ will be able to lift us higher than we have ever imagined. 

I love you all so very much. I am so grateful to be able to be a servant of the Lord and to learn the things I am learning at this time in my life. I know that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is real and WILL change your life if you let it. I am a better version of myself because of it, and I know that it is only through Christ that any of it is possible. I know that Jesus Christ lived for us, died for us, and lives again TODAY for us. He loves me. He loves You. Turn to Him and He will bless your life in ways you never though possible. He is your older Brother, He will not abandon you.

Have an amazing week :) 
Que Dios les Bendiga,

Sorry, this is going to be a short one! This week was great, and we had A LOT of meetings. It started off with Zone Conference (which was amazing), then Mission Leadership Council (meeting for all of the sister training leaders and zone leaders of the mission), and then an Easter Fireside last night. All of them were awesome, and all of them taught me about my Savior Jesus Christ. Really, there is no message more important than that of Jesus Christ; His life, sacrifice, and resurrection. HE LIVES. and I know that with every fiber of my being. He Lives and He loves each and every one of us. That is why I am on a mission, because He loves ME. 

There is an amazing video produced by the Church that I want you all to see. It is called Because He Lives. you can find the video on it is a quick 3 minute video about this message, about why I am on a mission, and about why I believe He truly does love all of us. PLEASE GO WATCH IT! 

Also, please go and watch General Conference this weekend! Wow, can any of you believe that it is already that time of year again? It is time to listen to a prophets voice! This whole weekend, men called of God will speak to us and help us feel of God's love. General Conference started this past weekend with an AMAZING Women's session filled with love and hope. If you haven't watched it yet, I strongly recommend it. 

I testify that we have a living Prophet today, Thomas S. Monson, and that He is lead by Jesus Christ. I know that Jesus Christ lives and loves us. I have felt His love SO MUCH this week as different struggles and challenges come my way. We are never alone. We are never without hope. 

I love you all and I hope you have an amazing week full of happiness. I think often on the quote by former President of the Church, Gordon B. Hinckley, "Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured." Thank you all for everything you do. I love you so very much :) 
con amor,
La Hermana Brooks 

So, as always, I don't have as much time as I would like to have to tell you about all of the amazing miracles that happened this past week. Literally it is insane how blessed us missionaries are. I have never been happier in my whole life, nor more confident or willing to change and learn. Sometimes it freaks me out to think about how different I am, because a few months ago I would never think that it was possible. But I am so very grateful that it is, and that it is all possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

This week, I was able to go on my first exchanges as a Sister Training Leader with a couple different companionships that we are over. Our sisters are absolutely AMAZING!! Really, I feel as if my heart has grown SO MUCH and it only continues to expand and fill my entire being. Charity is such a gift from our Heavenly Father, and I have been able to see it change lives, especially my own. One thing that super stood out to me as I went on exchanges to try and help and love the sisters as much as possible is that as we center everything on Jesus Christ, everything will be okay. Maybe they wont be perfect, and maybe we will still mess up. But that is why He gave us the Atonement, so that we can overcome that and learn from our mistakes. The purpose of this life is to learn and grow. We cant do that if we are already perfect. :) 

AND A MIRACLE HAPPENED WHILE I WAS ON EXCHANGES. So I went to Duvall on exchanges with the amazing Sister Thinn from Arizona from Friday to Saturday. And we had an awesome day full of meeting awesome people and eating Thai food :) and then as we were finishing our daily planning that night, we get a phone call from my companions back in Bellevue. They had just gotten off of the phone with President Miller (a member of our mission presidency) who told them that CECIILIA WAS GETTING BAPTIZED IN THE MORNING!!!!!!!! My dear companion Hermana Dilworth and her new companion Hermana Fowlks would be holding the baptism for Cecilia the next day and she was going to be sharing her testimony at the Member-Missionary Fireside on Sunday evening. Cecilia had asked that I be the one to translate for her at the fireside as she bore her testimony :) I was just overcome with happiness and love that I could just sit there and cry. I looked back on the months I shared with that woman in her living room, reading with her in the Book of Mormon, fasting for her to come to church, crying when she lacked faith, and falling in love with her amazing family. I was blessed to watch her change over the 4.5 months that I taught her, and because of her, I know that the Book of Mormon changes lives. It isn't just true. It is the truth. 

The fireside last night was one of the happiest nights of my life. Being able to see Cecilia and her family (her daughters Estefany and Karla are preparing to be baptized on April 11 and her husband finally started letting the missionaries teach him) was just such a blessing sent directly from my  Heavenly Father. As she bore her testimony in front of the hundreds of people there, I felt the confirming power of the Holy Ghost tell me that this really is the true church of Jesus Christ. I know it without a doubt. 

I was also able to see so many of the amazing people that I love from the May Valley Ward: The Baggenstos family who has become an extension of my own, Bishop Jarman, my wonderful Laurels Riley and Gillian, and of course my amazing, beautiful, wonderful companion Hermana Dilworth. There is little so rewarding on a mission as training a new missionary. It is equal to watching someone gain a testimony of Jesus Christ and entering the waters of baptism, like Cecilia. The responsibility is huge, and the stress is high. But seeing her last night and being able to talk to her about the miracles she is seeing (she can finally speak Spanish!) just confirmed to me the power of the Atonement. It is so real. I love her so very much, and we both have been strengthened by each other and were able to see the fruits of our labors last night as Cecilia testified in front of many the truthfulness of the message we brought her. 

Missionary work is amazing. There is nothing in the world I would rather be doing right now. I know without a doubt that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the true church of Jesus Christ. I know that as we exercise faith in Him, He will help us transform our lives. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, and that as we read it, ponder it, and ask God about it, He will let us know that it is true. 

I love you all so much and I pray that you have an amazing week full of guidance from our loving Heavenly Father. Look up to Him and He will fill you with a love and happiness that is the sweetest gift you could ever receive in this lifetime. Also, shout out to my little brother Austin Brooks. Happy Birthday bud, You are my example and inspiration :) LOVE YOU!!

con mucho amor,
La Hermana Brooks