Friday, June 12, 2015

a final note

The time has come to return to reality.
And a normal blog.
Please keep in touch or continue to silently stalk at my blog of normality.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is true! 
Forward, and on, on to the victory!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Week 80: The Final Farewell

Well, I'm officially home.
As a final email out, here's a recap of the final week as a full-time missionary.

Our final P-day activity of the usual basketball at a church building.
Two family home evenings with some amazing members in the wards.
Finally finished our task of delivering neighborhood directories and met two fantastic people because of it!

Had my departing interview with President Spendlove. Some key points from there:
-Always live the standards of For the Strength of Youth
-Because of my time in this mission, I have come to know and understand our Savior, Jesus Christ, even more.
-CTR now means current temple recommend
-Serve WITH the Savior, not just for Him.
-Always live your life for others. Think about the effects your decisions will have on your family, children, Relief Society, etc.

Sister Spendlove joined us for a lesson with the Myer's. Her testimony was perfect for the questions that Sister Myer asked. I love seeing how the Lord brings specific people together for specific reasons!
The Lord is good to me: we had several inches of snow that day which is just gorgeous on the mountains of Bountiful.

Departing temple day! We went to the Bountiful Temple in the swirling snow with the 19 of us heading home. Crazy.
I love the peace the temple brings. It truly is the house of the Lord. Before going in, Sister Spendlove shared some thoughts with us that really struck me. She told us to spend time in our true home after we returned home. If the temple is our Heavenly Father's home, and we are His children, then it must be our home, too.
Lunch downtown with everyone, rides to some Sisters, and then back just in time for dinner and evening appointments with my sweet companion.

Final zone lunch and district meeting. Mo'bettah's one last time. District meeting was all about the attribute of patience, which has been extremely helpful the past several days.
Contacted several people with entertaining stories from it all. Had one last lesson with the Vita family. Love them to pieces.

Things got real that day. I finished up basically all of my packing. Crazy stuff.
Had a short, powerful training on the importance of testimony.
Won candy while playing bingo with the people in the care center that our stake covers.

We had one of the most spiritually powerful experiences of my mission later that night. We had dinner with the former stake president and his wife. Shortly after he was released, he was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and given between 6 and 15 months to live. He's into month eight, and seems to be doing pretty well. We talked about Food network, family, health struggles, and how the gospel brings it all together. As we were preparing to leave, they asked about our appointments that night. We had a lesson with the Myer's set for right after. He looked at us and simply told us to tell the Myer's, "Russ and Pauline know it's true." Tears came to his wife's eyes, and I nearly started, too as the power of that testimony hit each one of us.
I know this gospel is true. I know our families can be together forever because of the ordinances of the temple. I know that no matter the challenge we face, the gospel of Jesus Christ can and will bring us the peace we are so desperately seeking.

Phone calls, laundry, packing, early morning meeting with some people in one of our wards, and a final apartment inspection before a final trip to Nielsen's for some custard. Paperwork, more laundry, more visits, and final packing. An accidental door contact with the wrong address led to a fantastic conversation about heart and health stuff. Our final appointment of the evening also had some heart problems. The Lord gives us the exact trials we need to help both us become more like Him and to help His other children. 

The final day. We were in church meetings from 8am til 3:30pm. Final correlation meeting, taught a youth group the Restoration and practiced teaching with them, joined the Myer's at church for a few hours, helped with a youth sunday school class, visited Relief Society, and raced home to finish packing before a final dinner appointment. Crazy day. 
The drive down to Salt Lake was surreal, sitting in the Whittier chapel for the departing testimony meeting was even moreso. We each bore our final testimonies as full-time missionaries, took pictures and visited with all the people who came to visit, and then we were off. Crazy. Fun fact: I got to drive the luggage minvan down to the mission office haha.
We received a final training from President Spendlove, saw the transfer board, had a little performance and visited with everyone. The Elders spent the night at the mission home and the Sisters packed up down to the Bishop's home in the Spendlove's ward. Approximate bedtime: 1:00am

Due to early morning flights, we were up at 4:40am to head off to the airport by 6:30.

It's been surreal. It's still weird to be home. But I am forever grateful for these eighteen months that have changed who I am. I am so grateful for the relationship I now have with my Heavenly Father and with my Savior. I am so grateful for the firm testimony I have that these things are true! I know the gospel of Jesus Christ is the way for us to experience true joy in our lives. I love His work. I love His plan. And I know it is true.

I love you all so much. One of the greatest blessings has been to meet each of you. Your faith and examples have changed my life. Thank you for your goodness and love for the Lord. Keep smiling. Keep living the gospel. Keep loving every moment.

I know our Heavenly Father is there. He lives! He answers every prayer. Our Savior is Jesus Christ. He lives and He loves us. He will never leave us alone. Turn to Him and He will always answer.

Remember to smile :)

Sister Holbrook

Please keep in touch on email or Facebook!

On the plane with Sister Fluegel!
Our departing group!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Week 79: Invite Other to Come Unto Christ

Crazy how the time flies, isn't it?

We had a busy week! Paperwork, practicing a song to teach to a young women's group, lots of visits to lots of people, teaching lessons to members of the wards, ward mission leader visits, getting our oil changed and a Buick for a day, writing final letters, spending time with our sister training leaders on hikes and exchanges, helping investigators with a yard sale (meaning we showed up and said hi), crashing several different ward activities, and a million other things.

We're tired. And it feels so good.

Enos 1:26-27 currently describes my attitude toward my mission.

I have loved every single moment of these past eighteen months. I love sharing what I know to be true. I love focusing completely on the gospel of Jesus Christ, on those things that truly matter from the eternal perspective. I love these people with all my heart. Heavenly Father has put some of the greatest souls to ever walk this earth into my life. I am so grateful for that. I have never been happier, healthier, or more tired. I love the lessons, the trials, and the refinement my Heavenly Father has given to me and taught me these past months. I'm different because of it, and I never want to go back to who I was before.

There's one comfort in going home: the purpose stays the same. 
Our purpose as missionaries is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. 

That is our Heavenly Father's purpose, and all that we do in the Church is geared to that end. To invite others to come unto Christ. That is what we all must do every single day of our lives, whether by example, word, or invitation. It must be a part of who we are. That is what my misison has taught me. To invite others to come unto Christ, with or without a nametag.

Faith in Jesus Christ.
Baptism and eternal covenants.
The gift of the Holy Ghost.
Enduring to the end.

That's what this is all about. Nothing else really matters. It is just that simple. This is how we return home to Him.

I know this is the true church of Jesus Christ on the earth today. This is His gospel. This is His plan for us. This is a plan of joy! I know He loves each one of us. That includes you. He has done everything He possibly can to help us get back to Him without taking away our ability to choose. Oh, how He wants us to choose His path! 

I know the Book of Mormon is true. It testifies of Christ in every single page. I know daily reading of the scriptures and daily prayer will bring us closer to our Father in Heaven and invite the power of the Spirit into our lives. I love the scriptures. I love the time I get to spend on my knees each day. I love our Father in Heaven and our Savior, Jesus Christ. I know They live!

I love you all more than you know. Thank you for your love, letters, prayers, pictures, and general support these eighteen months. It has meant so much. 

Remember to smile! The gospel is true!
I'll talk to you all soon.

Sister Holbrook

Keep in touch:

P-day hike with Sister Johnson!

Snow on Mom's birthday :)

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Week 78: I Know That My Redeemer Lives

Sister Holbrook will be returning home on Monday, April 20th and speaking in church on Sunday, April 26th at 9 am!

Happy birthday Grandma Hyde and Hermana Juarez!! I love you two :)

Quotes of the week:
"All roads lead to a church building. "Sister Hay
"You're a polar bear because you're white." Hermana Tranchina
"That's because the Lamanites rock." -Mitch, a recent convert in response to our daily scripture text
"If you can't bring someone else to Christ, bring yourself." Sister Hay

Precious moment
Sister Allen received her patriarchal blessing this week!
Sister Soelberg and I received permission to attend, and what a highlight that was. It was one of the most spiritually powerful experiences of my mission.
I know the power of the Priesthood is real. I know that Heavenly Father speaks to us today. He will give us specific, personal direction when we ask for it. Patriarchal blessings are powerful, personal scripture for us to use, study, and apply throughout our lives. I know that as we live the gospel, Heavenly Father will pour out His blessings upon us. 

General Conference
We spent conference as such:
Saturday morning with the Compton family, a recent convert.
Saturday afternoon at the conference center with a woman who's been coming back to church for several months and her daughter.
Sunday morning with Sister Skaggs, our landlady who is just the best.
Sunday afternoon at the conference center with the Myers and the Vita's!

The miracle of conference for me was being in the conference center with Sister Myers, who is from Spain, and having two of the talks be in Spanish. That was powerful.

Other thoughts that stood out:
  • Make the Sabbath more holy. Elder Nelson
  • Eliminate distractions from the world and media. Basically everyone
  • Build our lives on our covenants. Elder Pearson
  • Help others to hear and feel the music of the gospel. Elder Andersen
  • Defend the family. Elder Perry and several other people.
I am grateful for the questions I took to conference, for those are the answers and direction I received. I know that what was taught this past weekend comes from our Heavenly Father. If we will study and apply those things the Spirit taught us, we will be able to feel the joy and peace that comes from living the gospel.

Despite it being spring break with 90% of our area in St. George for the vacation, we had miracles this week: someone let us do service and paint their bedroom, we were able to visit a former investigator who agreed to have us come back, our investigators readily accept everything we teach them, a member took us to visit two of the people we had planned to see, Priesthood blessings answered questions, and the Lord simply took care of us and let us know that He is there. 

Sister Hay and I are working on faith and hope, trusting that God's promises are certain, and moving forward with an increased enthusiasm for the work. I love this stake. I love the people we meet each day. I love being able to serve here. I love being able to feel our Father in Heaven's love for His children. I love learning more of His gospel and coming closer to Him each day. 

I am so grateful for the time I have had here to become more like Him, to learn more of Him, and to draw nearer to Him. I love the Lord. I know this is His work. I know it is a work of joy, not of fear! I know He is always with us and will never leave us. If we will turn to our Savior, Jesus Christ, He will lift us, heal us, and embrace us. I know He lives! That is the greatest miracle of this life: that because He lives, we too will live again. That is the hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ and I know it is true.

I love you all. Remember to smile!

Sister Holbrook

I love General Conference :)

I love Temple Square :)

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Week 77: #BecauseHeLives

Sounds mind is to have common sense, which is the less common of all the senses.
Quote courtesy of our ward mission leader.

Also this one:
"Take your pirate shirt and go away."

I love people and the funny things they say :)

We had a very slow week with another one ahead. Everyone and their dog is out of town for spring break, and every school has a different week for spring break. So it's been rough trying to see people or contact new people. BUT the Lord has a plan, and Sister Hay and I have been growing in ways that haven't been stretched before.

This area is causing me to literally grasp at straws, to use everything I've learned these past several months, to pray more than I ever have before. I am so grateful for that. It's a mountain to climb, but I know it's forcing me to become even more of who Heavenly Father needs me to become. And that's what this work is all about: becoming like Him.

I know Heavenly Father answers each of our prayers. It's not always in the way we are expecting, but He does answer. I know He will always be by our side, no matter what we go through. 

If you haven't seen the video yet, go watch it.
I just want to add my testimony that our Savior, Jesus Christ lives! I know that to be true. Because He lives, we all will be able to live again. We have the opportunity to become perfected if we will repent, change, and strive to be like Him. Because of His sacrifice, we can have confidence that He understands every pain, sorrow, trial, joy, and light that we will ever experience. Because I know He lives, I want to help others gain that testimony for themselves. This is the center point of all hope: the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I know that as we turn to Him in faith, we can feel of His power in our lives.

The Stake Vision
We were able to meet with our stake president this past week and understand a little more of his vision for the stake: to improve the three-hour meeting block. And it all starts with talks in sacrament meeting and the lessons taught during the other two hours. Here are just some key points from some of the training he and his wife have given us:
  • Ask inspired questions. No one wants to listen to a lecture. As we engage through the right kinds of questions, others share testimony, and all are uplifted and edified.
  • It all starts before the meeting. We must give ourselves time for the Holy Ghost to tell us what needs to be shared. That comes as we prepare to the best of our ability, using every resource the Lord has given to us.
  • This isn't about you. The Holy Ghost is the only one who can carry the message to the hearts of the people (2 Nephi 33:1). Our job is to create an environment where the Holy Ghost can testify and teach.
  • Remember: people usually come hoping to gain something. Some people may be giving church one last chance. If we will ask our Father in Heaven what His children need to know, He will help us to give the lesson that He would have us give. 
I love you all! I know this is the true gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth today! I know the Book of Mormon is true. I know that as we read from it daily and ask God if it is true, we will become more deeply converted disciples of Jesus Christ. I know Heavenly Father wants each of His children to come back to Him - that's why we share the gospel, why we gain our own testimonies, why we teach each other each week. This is a work of love. He loves each one of you. As we shepherd people to the baptismal font, to the sacrament table, and to the temple, the Holy Ghost will fill our hearts and homes, and we will feel just a taste of the joy our Father in Heaven feels in the soul that comes back to Him (Doctrine & Covenants 18:15-16).

Remember to smile! Miracles happen - we just need to take the time to look for them.

Sister Holbrook

PS It's spring break and the family history center is open for less time, sorry I couldn't respond to everyone!

PICTURES! Your favorite part, I know :)

I love my Texan companion :)

General Women's Meeting with Sisters Hamblin and Johnson!

I <3 my companion!

Flowers just for mom :)

I love the temple so much.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Week 76: Break-Ins and Full Circles

Mom's Note:
We have been out of town in Hawaii for Spring Break, so sorry this letter is late.  
Tia, who Lauren mentions in her letter is a woman Lauren started teaching back in November 2013 when she arrived in her very first area.  Tia was baptized in March of 2014, so it is really exciting that she has now gone through the temple and that Lauren and her 1st companion (Candice) were able to be there with Tia.
She comes home in 23 days!!!!

Lauren's Letter:
Once upon a time, two sister missionaries were planning for the next day when they heard someone banging on their basement window well cover.
Naturally, these two poor missionaries thought that someone was trying to break in.
Lock the doors. Turn all the lights on.
Sister Hay looks out the window and sees three men. 
So we call our district leader to ask if they're outside. 
But the men start laughing, so I open the door in frustration.
And there stood three BYU friends to drop off a package and say hi.
I know the best and craziest people in this world.

Two topics for this week: temple and sacrament.

Saturday was one of the happiest days of my life. 
Tia went to the temple to receive her endowment.
Walking into the celestial room, giving her a big hug, and seeing all of the members from her ward.
That was the best moment.
I was bursting with joy! To see all of these people I love in the best place possible. 
I know the Atonement of Jesus Christ is real. I know we can repent, change, and become clean. I know the temple is His house on the earth. I know we can be families for eternity because of the power of the Priesthood and because of the ordinances of the temple. I know this is His work. I know He loves us. Heavenly Father has done everything possible for us to return to live with Him. He only asks that we keep His commandments. 

We had a fireside with one of our wards last night. 
President Beck, the General Young Men's President, and his wife spoke.
They gave us the assignment to share this video on the sacrament. 
In 3 Nephi 18:7-12, Christ instituted the sacrament among the people in the Americas.
It was one of the last things He did before He was crucified.
It was one of the first things He did after He was resurrected.
How important is the sacrament to the Savior?
How important is the sacrament to you?
How will you always remember Him? 
I am so grateful for the sacrifice Jesus Christ made for us. For you. For me. I know that as we strive to always remember Him, we can feel of His strength at all times. 

What places have become holy in your life because of your labor there?
Each of these areas has become a holy place for me. I love these people.

I know this is the true gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth today! I know He lives! I know His plan for us is perfect, even if we don't always understand it. I know He answers every prayer.

I love you all. Remember to smile, and go out and be the answer to someone's prayer!

Sister Holbrook

Candice, Tia, me, and Sister Moore and Sister Wilson at the temple! Best day ever.

Me and my sweet companion after a very long day.

The wall of sand-dirt in our basement. Sister Skaggs and her mom have collected dirt from all over the world.
Kind of cool.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Week 75: Hay Ho!

The North Canyon stake has been absolutely amazing! There is so much work to be done here. It's been awesome to see how the experiences the Lord has given me this past year or so are helping me to have all sorts of things to apply here now. I absolutely love this stake and can't wait to see the miracles that lie ahead!

Sister Hay is absolutely incredible. She acts like she's been out forever when she's really only been here for six weeks. She loves this area, too, and she's so excited to see the miracles that the Lord has in store for this stake. She works her hardest and is always trying to find ways to be better. She's just an angel. I love her to pieces. She's from Dallas, Texas and loves it there - as any true Texan would :) She has a gorgeous voice and loves piano. She's the youngest of four (three girls and a boy) and just loves the gospel!

We are currently teaching the Myers - they are a middle-aged couple who have lived in the stake for several years. They sought out the missionaries to learn more about the church, and they just eat everything up. Sister Myers is from Spain, so we had a little connection on speaking Spanish (mine is awful by the way). They love learning and coming closer to Christ. Brother Myers needs to quit smoking, but they are so prepared and want to be baptized! 

This area has shown my mission coming full circle. 
I'm currently serving in the stake just south of my first area. As in if we go too far down one street, we're in my first area. Pretty cool. Same view of the temple, too :)

We had a lesson with the Vita family. Their kids, Wes and Emma, were baptized 3 weeks ago. The mom has started coming back to church and went to the temple to do baptisms for the dead last week. They are absolutely amazing! We were visiting with the mom and Emma while we waited for the boys to come in, and here comes Wes with his friend, Garrett. As soon as they walked in, I recognized the two boys.

Garrett's mom was not active for a long time, and we had been teaching her and her family to help Garrett prepare to be baptized. This was a year ago in my first area. Garrett, being the awesome missionary he is, had invited his friend to join in on the lessons with his family. That friend was Wes. Now here we are, over a year later, and both boys have been baptized and are helping their families become more active in the Church. It was incredible.

Garrett didn't remember me at first, but Wes remembered us teaching them how to pray using the prayer sandwich. Then Garrett remembered that delicious lesson :) 

The Lord is aware of His children - including you. I know He will always put people in our path who will touch us forever. I love this gospel. I know His plan for us is perfect, though we may not always understand it. I know He will always give what's best for us. I know trials are the way we can truly come to know our Savior. How grateful I am for those mountains to climb. I love my Father in Heaven. I love my Savior. I know They live!

Remember to smile!
Sister Holbrook

Me and Sister Hay on our first day together!

Us with the Vita family and their friends after our lesson. Wes is on the far left and Garrett is on the right. I love those boys and their families.