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