Monday, December 23, 2013

Week 11: Feliz Navidad

Merry Christmas Family and Friends!! Isn't this just the best time of the year?!

News for you all: President Taylor will be presiding over the DALLAS TEXAS mission!! He and his family are going to be absolutely incredible down there. 

A BIG THANK YOU to all the packages and letters from everyone this week! Grandma and Grandpa Hyde and Greg and Wendy Hyde - your homemade goodies were very much appreciated :) I also received some fun cards and our family Christmas card! Thank you for all the love :)

We are slowly becoming more technology oriented missionaries as we've set up Google accounts for the various sets of missionaries to start using online progress records, scheduling with ward leaderships, and more! It's amazing to see the hastening of the work happen, and even more incredible to be a part of it all!

The Search and Rescue mission for the stake hit 1,574 names!! That means that all the temple work has been done for 1,574 ancestors of people in this stake. It is amazing to see the spirit of Elijah touch the hearts of the people here and bring the stake closer together. Challenge: Do your family history and take names to the temple!!

This week was a little nutty. I wish you all could be in our meetings and lessons and exchanges. I learn so much every single week and these emails really cannot do it justice. We had the amazing opportunity to do exchanges with Sisters Schrock and Pilling - one each day - and I learned so much from them about being a bold missionary and listening closely to the Spirit. It really was a great experience, and I am so blessed to have Sis. LeSueur as a sister training leader right now because then I get to know all of these sister missionaries in the mission! I am loving it.

This week was also just chock full of amazing experiences. We were able to meet not one, not two, but FOUR General Authorities. 

We had dinner with President Beck, the General Young Men's President, on Friday night. He shared with us how Elder Perry comes up to him and pokes him and says "You're not doing enough yet!" :) Such an amazing man! He really wants the Young Men to start having missionary experiences now. So Nathan - start learning from those Elders in your ward NOW!! We are trying to provide as many opportunities as possible for the Young Men in this stake to be involved with missionary work. 

On Saturday morning, I ate breakfast with Elder F. Enzio Busche who is an emeritus Seventy (but it still counts). He was such a fascinating man! I asked him what his favorite place to visit was, and he said the places where he felt the Spirit the most. He shared lots of stories about when he served over in Central Europe and it was amazing to just listen as he told of the humility of the people there. 

Sunday was then incredible as we had the opportunity to hear both Elder Neil L. Andersen and President Henry B. Eyring speak in their sacrament meetings. When they bear their testimonies, the Spirit is so strong, particularly as they testify that Christ lives. I KNOW those men are called of God. I know that Jesus Christ lives and He is at the head of this Church! Elder Andersen talked about how Christ is the source of all joy, and through Him we can rid ourselves of the prisons we sometimes build around ourselves. I am so grateful for the Atonement, and I know that through the Atonement, anyone can be healed of anything. 

President Eyring talked about his work with the Air Force during the Cold War. His whole message was that there one day will be peace as all turn to Christ and allow their hearts to be changed. He said (along the lines of) a missionary has more chance of bringing peace to the world than the most powerful leader in the world. Peace cannot come until hearts are changed, and that can only happen as we turn to the Savior and His Atonement. I have found similar messages in my Book of Mormon studies - Christ is the source of true joy and peace in this life!

Side note for Grandpa Hyde: President Eyring drives a Buick :)

I love this gospel! I love this Christmas season! The spirit of Christ truly is the spirit of Christmas. It is amazing to be able to fully focus on the Savior out in the mission field and not be too terribly distracted by the commercial part of the season. Christ lives, and He will come again! He came into the world to provide the way for each one of us to return to live with Him and our Heavenly Father one day. He is my Savior, my Brother, and my Friend. I am so grateful to have this gospel in my life and pray that I can give back to Him each day as I strive to share His message with others.

I love you all! Have a very merry Christmas, and always remember the Savior!


Sister Holbrook
 With Tia, an investigator

Clearing 8 inches of snow off a car is what I live for 

At Temple Square! 

Exchanges with Sister Schrock and Sister Pilling 

We are the singing snow shoveling sister missionaries

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Week 10: Room for Improvement

We all took turns being sick this week which means not a whole lot of lessons. But that's ok!! It just means that we are feeling better today and will see great miracles this week!! (I thought I was getting bronchitis and the mission doc sent me to transplant to check me out. But I'm a whole lot better today, just still a little tired. We have all been switching off our sick days, but we can still do splits since Sis George is always home and the other two can go out. I am the tallest one in the companionship which is super weird haha.)
We have several goals this week: add one new investigator, visit all the recent converts, and get over twenty lessons!! Heavenly Father's got this.
Lots of letters this week!! Thank you all so much!! CONGRATS Lindee and Calvin!!! You're super cute and I'm so excited for you :) Sis. Barrus thanks for all the cute notes!! And thanks to Aunt Christine, the Chapman fam, and Elder Watkins for your notes!
Quote of the week: "I'm so excited! I love doing weird things!" Love my trainer :)
So this week I wanted to spend this time telling you all about some of the more spiritual aspects of life and about some of the wonderful people in this area.
We found out yesterday that our wonderful stake president and his wife have been called to preside over a spanish-speaking mission starting next July!! I am so excited for them - sad to be losing such an incredible man, but so thrilled for the missionaries he gets to work with. They are receiving some of the best people ever.
We have been trying to reach out to Tia, our investigator who committed to be baptized, but she has a really strange work schedule which makes meeting with her difficult. She is so excited, though! She won't be baptized on Christmas day, but she still wants to work towards baptism soon!! She is so prepared and so willing to do anything Heavenly Father asks of her. We just adore her.
The Book of Mormon is seriously amazing. And I just love the war chapters in Alma (which we're going to start calling 2nd Alma, by the way.) because of the spiritual applications that are everywhere throughout the stories!! Alma's words of counsel to his sons is seriously amazing. You all should study that.
Revelation 12:11 "And they aovercame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their btestimony; and they loved not their lives unto thecdeath."
What a powerful verse of scripture. This is how we will overcome Satan in our day!! 
On Wednesday we had our mission Christmas party and Elder Summerhays of the Seventy came to speak to us. He shared that scripture (which I LOVE) and it was just amazing to listen to him teach by the Spirit. My favorite thing that he said though was this: "Lift up your head and be of good cheer - it's Christmas again!" Sister LeSueur and I had been discussing earlier that day how every single day feels like Christmas and Sunday all at once and it is just the best. And then Elder Summerhays said that, and it is SO TRUE. Every single day is a special day for one of God's children, and it's an even better day when we get to go serve and reach out to all of them! I LOVE this work!
Funny story: I was leading the music for this meeting, and we walked in super late (which is like 4 minutes before the meeting starts) all because the docs took forever to come tell me I was fine. Good times. (President Hansen and Elder Hansen (one of the assistants) gave me a blessing last week before I went to see the docs. So I'm good :) )
"Any excuse, no matter how valid, always weakens the character." -Spencer W. Kimball. LOVE this quote so much!
I love you all so much! I love this gospel with all my heart, and I love being a missionary. I love this Christmas season and the time we have to celebrate Christ's birth. Let us remember the true meaning of Christmas and reach out to those around us at this wonderful time of year!
I love you all! Keep smiling!
Sister Holbrook
By the way, Cousins she mentions are from the Holbrook side - John Holbrook settled Bountiful so there are lots of cousins.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Week 9: The Mountains are White (already to harvest)

December 9, 2013
Key points of this week: 
I live in one of the most beautiful places on the face of the planet.
I actually planned out my email last night so we'll see how this all works out. 
I need fisherman height boots to avoid getting snow inside my boots.
I have cousins all over Bountiful, Utah.
The Book of Mormon is the greatest book in the world.
Bunk beds and little Christmas trees are the best things ever. Besides the gospel, of course.

Miracles have been happening like crazy this week - last transfer we were really building up our relationship with the members, and now they are just calling us with referrals and people to visit! It has truly been amazing!

Sister Beeton got to go to the Salt Lake Temple and the mission home for most of the day, so I got to spend some time with my mission mom (Sister LeSueur). We were SO EXCITED about not being transferred, so we went to Deseret Book and got this fantastic Christmas CD that we can listen to on P-days. The rest of the day consisted of laundry and a few lessons in the evening!

The morning consisted of packing and cleaning and getting ready for our new sister. We had a lesson with Val then headed off to the transfer building! We met Sister Beeton's fantastic family and said goodbye, then went to pick up our new missionary! Sister Horseherder is this cute, tiny, Navajo sister from Tuba City, AZ and she is just amazing. That night we went on splits so they went to a dinner appointment and I went to a ward Christmas party where Buddy the Elf performed, there was a clarinet quartet, and they sang "Do You Have Room." Such a great evening.

Fantastic follow-up meeting for the trainers and trainees! I absolutely LOVE President Hansen and his wife. So so much. And it's been absolutely amazing to see Elder Williams and Elder Colton and get to see how much they have grown over the past year and a half to two years. We then had pizza with one of our ward mission leaders and his cute grandkids, then it was off to a wonderful evening of Stake Correlation and learning all about the area book.

A few appointments cancelled, Sister Horseherder was sick, and then Sister LeSueur (as the sister training leader) was held hostage by some zone leaders who needed her help planning out their zone meeting. Which meant lots of study time and cleaning out the area book. Mom you would be ashamed of our planning sessions and area book right now. We are working on being more effective planners and having a much more organized area book. Still a work in progress though. Then the Relief Society Christmas dinner where we shared a little Christmas message. I felt like I needed to share about having a new heart for Christmas six years ago, and it's been really neat to see that story touch certain people as we've gone to other ward Christmas parties. 

Zone meeting and weekly planning. President Hansen has these 20 points that are to be our focus for this mission. It was awesome to review all of those! We then had two more ward Christmas parties where we shared similar messages. And I got to hear the Polar Express be read aloud which just made me super happy :) And then I of course started bawling talking about my new heart six years ago... good thing there were just Christmas lights around.

We had ward Christmas breakfasts, new bunk beds, and another ward Christmas party. Challenge: watch the Bible videos about Christ's birth. Absolutely incredible. Sister Horseherder was sick and slept most of the day, so we had a lot of Book of Mormon study time. It has been awesome! Next week I'm going to tell you all about the amazing Book of Mormon studies I have had!! It's been such a great blessing to be able to read the Book of Mormon. I am doing my best to finish it by the end of the year... maybe even by Christmas.

On our way to Stake Council with President Hansen, Sister LeSueur and I got stuck in the snow. Which means Heavenly Father sent the wonderful Moore's to pick us up on the way there. The snow here is amazing, and it's so deep and gorgeous. I just love it :) So then we were super late to a Stake Council. Where our mission president was there. Good thing he still loves us. 
President Hansen is absolutely amazing.  He talked about simply inviting people into your home without even hiding a Book of Mormon behind your back - just get to know them and love them until they open up. We also need to be more bold in inviting people to listen to the missionaries!! People will accept if only they are invited! He also talked about making time for the people around you, even if that means you can't have a family thing every single night. It was wonderful. 
The Christmas devotional was just amazing. I love all of these General Authorities so much, and I love that I get to be around them in this area. Always remember to keep Christ in Christmas!!

How are you all doing on the challenges I've been sending you? Who have you been working to bring closer to Christ?

I love you all dearly! Remember our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love you! This gospel is true. This is God's work, and I am so blessed to be a part of it all. I love my Savior, and I am so thankful for this time of year to reflect on His birth and His life. His Atonement is truly how we can experience true joy in this life.


Sister Holbrook

 Found snow up to our boots!

New companion - Sister Horseherder 

The temple 

Christmas Decor 

Bunk Beds!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Week 8: An Angel in Sweatpants and Transfers

Hello Family!
Crazy things happening this week.
First off, CONGRATULATIONS MarLeice and Mike! So fun to run into you at the temple :)
MIRACLE of the week:
We received a referral of a nonmember, had a lesson with her, and she committed to be baptized on CHRISTMAS DAY! It's going to be a white Christmas here in Bountiful. Such miracles. She is so prepared and just an amazing sister. 
This week seriously FLEW by but it also seemed to last for eternity. 
The best news: I am staying in Mueller Park with Sister LeSueur!!! We will be getting a new missionary sometime tomorrow and Sister LeSueur will be training while I get to observe. It's going to be an incredible transfer!
Plus, I get to be in this gorgeous place for Christmas and my birthday. So excited!!
I had an AMAZING study session about Ammon in Alma 17-18. Read it looking for the symbolism of Christ. So incredible.
We went and sang at a nursing home, and I was talking about Christ with this cute old lady. In her words: "Jesus was a nice one." She also wanted to know how many kids I have... 
Each transfer, I've decided to pick a theme to write at the top of each day in my planner. Last transfer's theme was "Open Your Mouth and Testify." This transfer's theme is "How have I seen the hand of God today?"
Sister George is in charge of the POW group - the poor old widows - for the ward. They're fantastic!
Something I totally forgot to tell you: last week when President Eyring bore his testimony, he used his smart phone to read a scripture. So cool. 
Contacting people here is a very interesting experience. Everyone knows who missionaries are and what they do. So you just have to LOVE them until they trust you!! It makes for some interesting contacts :)
Alma 17:3 This is how I want EVERY REUNION with any friend or family member to be!! 
You need to BE a Missionary, not just go on a mission. So start preparing by being a missionary now! Or you can be like me and just be an awkward missionary even before you get to the field... 
THANKSGIVING was the best. We had two dinner appointments, and then another family stuffed us with dessert. So. Much. Food. But it was all great, and we all helped each other eat reasonable amounts so we weren't too terribly sick. After all the food, we took an adventure to look out over the valley, then we went to a zone activity for laser tagging and bowling where we all just got into it and burned off everything from the day. It was the greatest! 
Wednesday I had a sick day, and so did Sister Henriques, so we spent the evening together catching up on letters and journaling and talking about mission life. Love her so much! And so glad we'll still be in the same zone :)
This transfer, we are becoming more effective planners. Which hopefully means you will all be getting more cohesive emails about life in the mission field :)
This work is all about love. I am completely blown away by how much our Heavenly Father loves each one of us individually. 
November 26th was a very special day. It was Sister Beeton's birthday and marked six years since my third heart transplant!! I am so very thankful to be on this earth at this time in history. I am incredibly grateful to be able to be doing the work I am doing now. I am grateful for my Heavenly Father, for His plan for me, and for His gospel!
I love you all! Stay amazing, and keep smiling!
Sister Holbrook
The District 

Thanksgiving Dinner 

Laser Tag Zone Activity 

Ran into MarLeice at her wedding! 


Monday, November 25, 2013

Week 7: Ya Eh Na Pa Doh

Note: Ya Eh Na Pa Doh (yah enna pah dough) means "I love you very much" in a Burmese dialect called Karen (kur ren) that Sister LeSueur is now teaching me. Good times.

Very little time again this week, so enjoy the scatterbrained email from today :)

P-day is actually on Thanksgiving this week. And we have three dinner appointments that day. It's so awesome how nice everyone is here.

Transfers are NEXT WEEK! So please send all mail to the mission office address! I should be staying, but there are no guarantees.

MarLeice and Mike are getting married on FRIDAY!!! In my area. Just saying.
Seriously though, CONGRATULATIONS to you two. 

Happy 50th Birthday Shauna!!! Tomorrow's going to be a good day :) It's also Sister Beeton's birthday so if anyone wants to send a birthday card to my fantastic companion... Just a thought :)

Dad, you were the greatest Bishop EVER. I am so grateful for your example to me and for all the blessings and miracles I was able to see because of your service. Mom, enjoy the extra bajilion hours with your husband home :)

Lots of good stuff this week. We had an AMAZING Temple Square tour with our investigator Russ last night. The Joseph Smith movie is seriously the best movie on the face of the planet. We've built up our teaching pool a bit with lots of less-active members in the area. It's amazing how this gospel truly is simple - going back to the basics to build testimonies is what we get to do as missionaries and I LOVE IT!

On Sunday, President Eyring bore his testimony in his ward conference we were attending. I feel so blessed and honored to be surrounded by so many General Authorities in this area, and especially to have been able to hear two prophets of God testify of Christ in the past two weeks. This Church is true, and those men are each called of God to serve and testify. 

I got to go on exchanges this week with my big sister, Sis. Schrock!!
Note on mission family trees: your mom is your trainer, your dad is your district leader. Therefore, the other Sisters that my trainer has trained are my sisters, etc.
She is so sweet. so fun, and we had a blast in this area visiting people and meeting with the ward mission leaders at correlation!

Mission life is so fun. It's really really hard... but it's also a lot of fun.

"When I consider the tremendous consequences of little things, a chance word, a tap on the shoulder, the wink of an eye - I am tempted to think there are no little things." -Emily Dickinson
It is through the small things - daily obedience, knocking on a door, planning your day - that the Lord allows miracles to happen. It is truly amazing to see those little things happen every day that bring about great miracles in the lives of the people here.

"Our mission is to preach the doctrines of salvation in plainness and complicity as they are revealed in the scriptures." -Joseph Fielding Smith
This gospel is SO SIMPLE! Always stay true to the simple basics of the gospel, and your testimony will grow each day, and you will be able to see your heart changed by the Atonement.

Brother Rubow - I met President Dietrich!! He used to be the Stake President years ago over in Buffalo Grove and he said to tell you hello! So, hello from President (now Elder) Dietrich! He's working in the church office building and we ran into him during lunch in Salt Lake.

The youth "Come Follow Me" program is such good mission prep!! How often are you youth teaching for that? We get to teach a lesson on December 1st - any suggestions?

We have really been trying to reach out to the youth here. They are so incredible! One night this week we were able to have dinner with the priests' quorum in a ward, then we taught them the first lesson - the Restoration. The Spirit was so powerful there! I had a good discussion with one of the priests afterwards about getting ready to go out on his mission. It was an amazing experience for us and for the youth in helping them get excited about missionary work! 

Mueller Park has become a sacred place for me. I seriously love the people here and the place is just beautiful. I hope I get to stay here for forever. Obviously that won't happen, but I want to make the most of every second I have here. The people are so loving and kind and willing to reach out. I love it, and I wouldn't change this experience for anything else.

Heavenly Father loves you. Each one of you. It's amazing to feel of that love that He has for each person as you serve a mission. It breaks your heart when someone rejects the message of the gospel, because all of this is done out of love. 

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true church of Christ here on the earth today. Joseph Smith truly was called of God and restored the fullness of the gospel back to the earth. This gospel is true. I know it, and I can never deny it. Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer, and He lives! He loves us, and He is the way for us to return to our Heavenly Father. I pray that each of us will turn to Him more fully and rely on Him.

I love you all! Stay amazing, keep smiling, and look for the miracles!


Sister Lauren Holbrook

Alma 26:37

Notes from Elder Bednar's visit 2 weeks ago

Act in faith. He shared how Joseph Smith didn't just ask what church was right - he asked which church to JOIN. When we ask with the expectation of acting, miracles happen!

Agency. We are agents, we are not to be acted upon. That goes for our investigators as well. We can study in faith and take action because of our study. And so on. 

Ether 12:6 Sometimes the trial of our faith is something as small as having the courage to take action.

Get yourself out of the way of the Lord. This work is not about me. It's about the people here. It's about Heavenly Father and His children and the love He has for them. It's been a humbling and wonderful lesson to learn these past few weeks. Basically, Elder Bednar told us to get over ourselves and let the Spirit teach.

Prayer is a privilege. Elder Bednar asked us if we were walking into a room to be introduced to and talk with President Monson, how would we feel? With prayer, we are essentially doing the same thing - we get to go talk with our Heavenly Father. And we get to do it multiple times a day. Prayer is a privilege, and I am so grateful to know that He answers every single prayer. 

Line upon line. This keeps coming up on my mission, so it must be important :) He talked about how everything is line upon line - understanding, improving, developing faith. Take it one step at a time!

Understanding comes with the heart. Knowledge comes with the mind.

Let your mission completely change you. He asked: will you let your mission go through you, or will you go through your mission? If Elder Bednar came and talked to you after you came home and you answered that it felt like you never left, then you never really did. If he came and asked you six years later and you responded that it still felt weird, well then you let your mission change you in the best way possible.
I want my mission to completely change my life - I want to be a LIFETIME not just a full-time missionary. 

D&C 88:122 Teaching pattern This is basically how Elder Bednar taught us - he asked us questions, we asked him questions, we all came prepared, and the Spirit taught everyone. It was incredible.

FAITH: acting in accordance with God's will. That is acting with power. Faith is expecting everything will work out, then taking action to see if it really will. That's what we get to do every day and it's the best.

D&C 59:21 Look for God's hand in your life. Do it.

You are called to serve as a missionary; you are assigned to serve in a place. There's a saying "You are not called to serve in a place; you are called to serve in place of the Savior." Elder Bednar basically backed up that saying. The assignment can change by revelation, but the calling is to be a full-time missionary and bear witness of the Restoration of the gospel and Jesus Christ. 

LOOK TO THE TEMPLE. In the waters of baptism, we should always be looking to the temple. Baptism isn't the end goal - the celestial kingdom is. And there's still a lot to do between baptism and that point. 

Repentance is a turn to Christ. Sin is a turn to self. Repentance is a wonderful, beautiful gift from the Savior, not a scary thing. As we choose to turn and align ourselves more fully with the Savior, that is repentance.

How the Lord sees us: He sees us both today and in 30 years from now. He knows our potential. Specifically, Elder Bednar said: "The Lord sees you as a man and a woman sealed in the temple happy at home." It really is that simple.

Representative agency. Something really interesting Elder Bednar talked about was how our agency becomes representative agency when we choose to take upon us the name of Christ. Every action we take is now done as though Christ himself were doing that. That thought really made me think about all that I do and making sure that it is in line with the Savior and His work. Always representing Christ is far more important than anything you want.

Ether 12:27 talks about weakness, not weaknesses. We each have the same weakness to overcome: the natural man. Just an interesting thought to point out.

Our testimonies should be spiritual exclamation points! Declare what you know to be true and always testify of Christ.

Time is a concept specific to mortality. Therefore, as eternal beings, time is really awkward for all of us. The closer you get to eternity, time recedes into the background and seems to pass by in an instant. That explanation made it so clear how the time I spend at the temple, in Church, and here on the mission seem to go by far too quickly. 

"We can only teach what you are prepared to receive." He shared how he and President Packer were teaching a group of Stake Presidents, but they couldn't share all that they had prepared because the group wasn't prepared. Before the meeting, Elder Bednar gave us 4 talks to study in preparation for the meeting. That experience has inspired me to more fully prepare for any meeting, lesson, appointment, etc. that I ever attend. We all could gain so much more if we would prepare our spirits more fully to be taught, not just our minds.

I've noticed I'm already becoming awkward as a missionary. Which is totally fine by me. I'm ok with being weird the rest of my life - Elder Bednar told me it was all good :) Just kidding. 

It was such an incredible experience to have been spiritually prepared for the meeting and have the Spirit teach each of us exactly what we needed. He truly is called of God. At the end of the meeting, Elder Bednar blessed us with the gift of submissiveness, then bore his testimony of the Savior. The Spirit was so powerful. You could tell that he knows that every last bit of this gospel is true and that Jesus Christ lives. 

The shelf of wedding announcements - The Shelf of Shattered Dreams
We are very happy for you all :)

The biggest bowl of soup I have ever seen 

This is Bryan. He is the son of one of our Ward Mission Leaders. And he plays tuba in the band with RACHEL. So yeah. That was awesome to meet him. And get an update on Rachel :)

Cucumbers from the Zone Leaders 

Salt Lake Temple