Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Week 64: White Christmas dreams do come true

We're going to do some daily play-by-plays for you all to enjoy.

Christmas Eve
Delivered packages to all of the Sisters in our zone while wearing our santa hats :)
Yes, we're adorable.
Left our mail bag at one of their homes which created some delivery issues... and then the zone leaders dropped off more mail for the ones we had already delivered to... 
All mail was delivered at some point during the day.
Went to the Arbuckle's for family brunch.
Met with a Bishop and his family.
Caroled for Grandma Morgan.
Made cookie jars with other ladies at the rest home.
Picked up, packed, and delivered Sub for Santa presents. Best thing ever!
Dinner with the Bradley's where we met their daughter going on a mission this week and the foreign exchange student from Norway. Good times.
Second dinner with the Moriyama's where I saw people who knew Sister Lwin again.
Finished up the night with a part-member family and their kids' adorable puppet show.

Christmas day
Woke up to a WHITE CHRISTMAS! Finally! It was fantastic and snowed all day :)
Brunch with the Holbrook's and Vogrenic's. 'Twas a blast.
Skyped with my adorable family at the Morris's! I have the best family in the entire world. For real.
Stopped by another part-member family we've been trying to get in to for a while. They let us right in, we crashed some family videos, watched He is the Gift, and got a return appointment. 
Waffles, Alfie Boe, and a Christmas message with the Randall's.
Picked up snow shovels from our senior couple then proceeded to shovel their driveway.
First time shoveling a driveway for Sister Soelberg :) So we shoveled a few others.
Dinner and Christmas message with the Grant's! 
Went with the Grant's daughter to the Klein's for puzzles and another Christmas message! Love them.
Miracle of Christmas:
We decide to drive up to our Stake President's house. However, his house is at the top of the mountain, it's been snowing all day, but the plows had been good at getting everywhere.
Needless to say, we got stuck.
Sister Soelberg got out and was shoveling tire tracks to finish getting up. Not the most successful attempts though.
One of the neighbors came out in shorts with a shovel and asked where we were going. We said we were about to turn around, and he refused to accept such an answer. He pushed, we shoveled, I floored the gas, and ultimately, we got up the hill. 
This whole time Sister Soelberg was able to talk with him. Turns out he's been inactive for years but is good friends with the Stake President's family. He accepted a return appointment, we said a prayer with him, and thanked him with some pie. 
As we told our Stake President about this experience, he was shocked. The family had had no interest for a long time and so they had never thought to send us over there.

Getting stuck in the snow isn't all that bad.

Exchanges with Sister Fluegel on Saturday was just a party. Everyone asked where we were from, then if we knew each other before, and then how we met. It was great! We had an amazing experience with a recent convert who asked us to come over out of the blue. She had been feeling depressed and didn't feel like she was feeling the joy anymore. We talked about going to the temple, and she and her husband are going at the beginning of the year! It is absolutely amazing to see how far this family has come in just a few short months.
THEN we had a lesson with Dillon, our investigator who is on-date to be baptized. He wants to move his baptismal date up and is completely prepared to do so! Why, you might ask? So he can go with the youth to do baptisms for the dead at the temple. This kid is just the best.

Sunday went like this.
6:45 Stake correlation meeting in Bountiful.
8:00 ward council in Bountiful, after getting lost in Bountiful church buildings and finding out about potential investigators
9:00 spoke in a Bountiful sacrament meeting
10:15 met with Centerville Stake President
10:50 spoke in Centerville sacrament meeting
12:20 taught Gospel Principles class in Bountiful
1:00 ward council in Bountiful and ran into someone from Mueller Park who moved to this stake!
phone calls and planning exchanges and such until
2:30 Young Women's class in Bountiful
Then the evening we had dinner with a less-active family and our ward mission leader before going on splits for two hours to meet amazing people. I was with Tori who is just the best person ever. We went to an appointment with a member's family members who are visiting for a few weeks. Their family is completely non-members, and they all accepted a return appointment and to take the lessons. It was absolutely incredible! We are seeing them again on Tuesday.

The storal of this mory is: miracles happen in every single day as we live worthy of them. Our Heavenly Father truly loves us! Remember to smile! Expect miracles! #ShareTheGift

I know Christ is our Savior. I know that because of His love and His Atonement, we can become perfect. I know that as we do what He has asked us to do, we can feel of His peace at all times, no matter our circumstances. 

Sister Holbrook

John 6: 5-13 Are we like the little lad who will faithfully turn over all their loaves and fishes to the Savior? The promise is that if we do so, He will magnify our offering more than we can imagine.

Merry Christmas from Sisters Soelbrook ;)

Exchanges with Sister Fluegel (also from Chicago)! Awful picture, but it's whatever.

White Christmas love.


Skyping with the family :)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Week who cares it's CHRISTMAS!!!

We're skyping on Thursday which means this may be short.
Mom can put up the details from Skype on the blog.

Instant replay:

This scripture hit me this morning. I love the promise that the Lord will immediately make His plan of redemption available if we will but do as He asks. All that He asks is that we have the faith to take the first steps toward changing, repenting, and becoming more like the Savior. His love is perfect, His blessing come with time, but His plan can take affect immediately for us as we put our faith into action.

Sister Soelberg is a living, walking Preach My Gospel. It has been an incredible week. I could not have handled taking over two stakes without her. She is coming from Rose Park where she's been over two wards for six months, but she's taking to having seventeen wards quite well. She is from the bay area of California, loves sports and horses, and her favorite breakfast food is breakfast burritos. We are having a blast and getting so much done. 

Miracles of the week: Got new member lessons set up with two of our recent converts who have been avoiding us. One of our new investigators accepted to have regular lessons and not just work on quitting smoking. Mormon Messages answered an investigator's prayers. A referral contacted last night led to an inactive single mom accepting regular lessons because the gospel is all she has to hold on to right now. Most of the referrals we contacted accepted return appointments. We've met most of the new ward mission leaders in the Bountiful North Stake. Our Stake open house wasn't a huge failure and we had leftover cookies that saved an investigator from having to take the time to make some for Santa. Our former investigator accepted to have us come back. We had an incredible service project for four hours where we contacted about fifty different people and gave out tons of He is the Gift cards. I got to practice my Spanish way more than I ever thought possible. We had several potential investigators come to church who accepted a return appointment. Lots of little moments that made the craziness worth it. 

The Widow's mite has taken on a whole new meaning. President and Sister Hansen at our mission Christmas party talked about how the members all around have been donating things to our mission so that each of the missionaries in our mission could receive a Christmas gift. It was incredible to see how many donated and put their faith in the Lord that as they helped the missionaries, they would be blessed. 

President Hansen held up an orange shoe box and proceeded to tell us this story: One woman came in with her two little boys. One of the boys was carrying a shoe box. The woman told of how the two boys had emptied their piggy banks to purchase a gift for the Elders. President Hansen opened the box and inside were a few pens and a stack of Post-it notes. Those boys gave all they could simply because they loved the Lord and His servants. The box was given to one of the Elders there who could barely hold back tears as he accepted the gift. 

I know the Lord blesses us for every sacrifice, no matter how large or small. He is aware of us. He knows our needs. He knows our hearts. As President Eyring said, giving the gift of money is giving much, giving the gift of time is more, but giving the gift of self is giving all.

I love you all! Have a very merry Christmas as you continue to put God first.
Remember to smile!

Sister Holbrook
Alma 35:15 Are we offended by the commandments of God? Or do we accept them with a willing heart?

The most adorable opening to a Christmas party.

I have the cutest mission president and his wife EVER. They sang "I'm gettin' nothin' for Christmas" together." Just saying.

After the mission Christmas party with my new companion, Sister Soelberg!

The CUTEST stocking ever!! Promise I didn't peek :) But look at that. Completely adorable.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Week 62: Transfers

Transfer results:
I'm staying!!!
Sister Blankenship is leaving :( Saddest day ever.  I just love her so so so so much :) You just have no idea. Pray she gets accepted to BYU so we can be roommates at least for summer :) Everyone here has commented on how well we get along - it's been great :)
She's whitewash training in Rose Park!
Which means she is going into a new area that she doesn't know anything about and she will have a companion who just came from the MTC.
She's just the best.
 On my end, I will be with Sister Soelberg! She's from California, she's leaving her first area in Rose Park, and she is a brand new STL.
we're now covering two stakes. 
BUT we only have five companionships of Sisters!
10 Sister missionaries and 17 wards to watch over.
Philippians 4:13 is taking on a whole new meaning right now.

We had a leadership meeting this morning so I don't have much time. 
Quick recap:
Everyone here is loving the video that Rachel and Megan put together about being grateful. They are sharing it amongst themselves and with others as they feel inspired to do so. It's been cool to see how it's become a tool in the Lord's hands to help others feel of the Spirit and of their Heavenly Father's love for them.

Carl is a new investigator. He is currently living with his less-active girlfriend, and they just accepted to take the lessons! The missionaries have tried to meet with them before, but they have new jobs with better schedules, and one of the families in the ward has agreed to have the lessons at their home. It's an incredible miracle to see how this ward's friendship toward this couple has helped them in their desire to learn about the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Fenker family has a dad and a Young Women's age daughter who were baptized last summer. Their mom had a serious accident this summer and has had a ton of health problems since then. We're finally getting back in there to do new member lessons and help them get on family history!

We went to the last five ward Christmas parties on Saturday and one on Wednesday. They were SO FUN! It's cool to see how everyone does it so differently, and yet the Spirit can be felt as everyone strives to turn to Christ and remember the true meaning of Christmas.

We had our best Youth Chat yet last night! 36 youth came including one of our new investigators, one of our recent converts, and one of the youth brought his less-active friend. It was incredible to see how the youth are getting more and more excited about sharing and inviting everyone they know to learn about the gospel they love. We invited four youth to come dressed as Mary, Joseph, and two wisemen to share what they learn from those characters in the Christmas story. I am always astounded at the faith, diligence, and exact obedience of each of these people. We also read from 3 Nephi 1 in the Book of Mormon about the experiences of those who believed in Christ and held to that belief, no matter the worldly consequences. We watched "He is the Gift" and answered some fantastic questions about different principles of the gospel. I LOVE the youth here! It's absolutely incredible to see how strong and prepared they all are to share their testimonies with everyone they know.

Family: I LOVE the family Christmas card!!! You win all awards for that one :) And I'm sending you a legitimate Christmas package (hopefully today... but it may get there the day after instead). Be excited :)

I love the Christmas season. I love feeling of our Heavenly Father's love so strongly. I love knowing that because of Christmas - because of Christ, we are able to return to live with Heavenly Father. I know the Atonement of Jesus Christ is real. I know we can be fully healed and forgiven. What greater gift could our Father in Heaven have given us than the opportunity to choose to live with Him? I know the Book of Mormon testifies of Him in every single page. I love studying the Book of Mormon looking for the character of Christ. I love my Savior!

I love this gospel! I love the joy that it brings to all who choose to discover, embrace, and share it. I love you all. Thank you for your support, love, and prayers. It has been much needed. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ LIVE and love each one of you! I know it to be true.

Remember to smile! Share the Gift! Merry Christmas!

Sister Holbrook

Alma 31:34-35 I love the contrast in this chapter of choosing the way of the world or the way of God. Inspiring thought courtesy of Rachel: Christ's mission lasted for three years, but without the last week, none of it means anything. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Week 61: Weeeee wish you a Merry Christmas!

Christmas comes fast around here, doesn't it?!
Thank you so much everyone for your prayers! Sister Blankenship and I are both back on top of life, totally organized and healthy and attacking the world. Yesterday we received four referrals for families who are ready to hear the gospel, and we'll be contacting them today! Miracles happen every day! The Stake has been fasting together and you can just see the miracles fall into their laps.

How has it been watching He is the Gift? Did you see YouTube yesterday?!
I just love the gospel :)
And the Christmas devotional last night. Incredible.
I love the inspiration, upliftment, and general spirit of love that is just everywhere at Christmastime.
It's the BEST! :)

The new place we live is AMAZING. We live in the basement of a member's home.  The ward is SO EXCITED to have us. The ward mission leader lives down the street. We live right behind the apartments so we ALWAYS have people to visit. It's amazing. We are so blessed. We are finally organized and settled as of Saturday.
We are doing an open house on the 18th!! We're super excited and advertising it to everyone! 
We are reading the Book of Mormon as a mission looking for the attributes of Christ. It is INCREDIBLE. I love the Savior. I also read the Christmas story this past week and was just amazed at the exact obedience of Joseph and Mary. I am so grateful for their examples and their character.
As for the video, I saw it on Monday. Pres Hollingshead (our stake pres) saw it on Tues. He enjoyed it and wants to use it for missionary work here! Just not sure how. But the stake is quickly finding out about my health history. ha ha

Study thought of the week:
When Andrew heard the testimony of John the Baptist, he immediately left John to follow the Savior. That is the miracle of this work - seeing people rely on their own faith and testimonies to follow Christ in all things. THEN Andrew, after spending time with Christ and gaining his own witness that He was the Messiah, goes and brings his brother to Christ. That brother was Simon Peter, the president of the church after Christ had been resurrected. 
Who will we bring to Christ? We do not know their future, but we can know that the gospel will bless their lives more than anything else in the world!

We had Zone Conference this week! The mission is just flying by - I only have one left! Crazy stuff. Bullet point thoughts from that:
  • We do only one thing in this Church: shepherd people to the temple.
  • Read Mosiah 23-Alma 40 and BE ALMA. We now refer to each other as "Alma" instead of "Elder" or "Sister" on occasion.
  • "My religion is to know the will of God and do it." Brigham Young
  • We are in the business of saving souls, not increasing numbers.
  • Unity with leaders and members is the only way we will ever accomplish anything in this work.
  • The Lord is pleased with our efforts. But He is not satisfied. There are people to find that we are not finding. They are His children. He knows where they are, and He knows who He has prepared. We must exhaust every resource and turn every corner until every person has the opportunity to receive the restored gospel. 
  • Senior couple missionaries are just the best. True story.
  • Steady progression and fire in the bones!
Other highlights:
  • Exchanges with Sister Silva (my MTC companion)! It was so fun to reminisce and see ho much we've both grown on our missions.
  • Our recent convert family is going to start teaching (well, they think it's quizzing) us on the lessons. It should be a blast!
  • FIVE out of eleven ward Christmas parties down! Mom received several texts of the two of us in our Santa hats :) 
  • Little Samuel after a meeting with our ward mission leader gave the closing prayer. He asked for the ward to have experiences in sharing the gospel. It was so sweet to see this little 4 year old praying with such great faith for the ward members to have missionary experiences. Do we realize the faith of these children and how simple this gospel truly is?
  • Lots of gift wrapping with one of the families we are working with. And talking about the gospel too :)
We had a fun lesson with Tom - an older gentleman who has been coming back to church for about a year now and really wants to strengthen his testimony of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. He has such great faith, but has a very analytical mind, so he doesn't give his faith much credit. He is willing to keep every commitment and comes to church every week. He's this adorable, slightly grumpy man who just wants to know that his Heavenly Father loves him, and that the Plan of Salvation is real. We testified and were talking for a bit, and he said to see our confidence in our faith was comforting for him. He knows he can gain a witness for himself and wants to work towards that. 

I love when people choose to truly exercise their faith by keeping commitments and obeying the commandments of God. We will not receive a witness until we live His gospel.

I love you all. I hope you all are feeling the spirit of this Christmas season. If we will choose to look past all the commercial hustle and bustle of this time of year and really focus on the why of all of this, the power of the love of the Savior will fill our hearts and homes.

Remember to smile and #sharethegift!

Sister Holbrook

Fluffing a Christmas tree!! 

Best. Mission. President. Ever. For real though. We have to have all of our skills in the same bag if we ever hope to be successful in the "game" of the Lord's work. We can't just focus on finding or planning - they all must work together

Cute Christmas Nativities :)

With the most epic gingerbread house ever at one of our ward Christmas parties.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Week something: #SharetheGift

We moved this morning.
I'm exhausted. 
BUT it should be permanent. HOORAY!
Therefore, this email will be quite short.

New address is 35 S Cara Vella Lane Centerville, UT 84014

So Thanksgiving happened. We had 2.5 dinners, all delicious. It was a fabulous day to give thanks and to practice our abilities to eat large quantities of food. We enjoyed it quite a lot :)

If you haven't seen this video yet, you definitely should. 
Similar to the "Because of Him" video, the Church is really pushing to have this video shared with as many people as possible. Next Sunday, all of YouTube advertising will be this video. The video will be playing on the Times Square jumbotron. Temple Square is playing the video constantly as people come from all over the world to see the lights. The goal: everyone in the world is touched by the spirit of Christ this Christmas season.

The message shared is so powerful: what is the meaning of Christmas and how can we better remember that reason? I love the three invitations at the end:
discover the gift, embrace the gift, and share the gift.

I invite each of you to personally consider what you can do this season to discover, embrace, and share the gift. These are invitations to everyone, not just members of the Church. We all need to feel of the love of our Savior in greater abundance. What better way to feel His love than to share it with others.

We ran into a group of three older gentlemen walking their dogs this week. We went to talk to them about "He is the Gift." One of them was uncomfortably avoiding us. The other just looked at us and said religion tears apart people and walked away. But the third guy just started talking with us - he told us he wasn't interested and never has been and that he would smoke while he talked with us, but that he appreciated what we were doing. We asked if he knew of anyone who needed help, and he asked that we go share some holiday cheer with one of his friends in the area. He gave us the name and address for his friend and we parted ways. 

It's amazing to see how there are so many good people in the world. As we all work together to share the love of our Heavenly Father with others (and maybe they do it without knowing), miracles happen. We all need the gospel of Jesus Christ and the ordinances of salvation, such as baptism and the temple ordinances, but we can still love and respect each other and work together to make the world a happier place.

Man, I just love the gospel! I love being able to interact with Heavenly Father's children every single day! 

In closing, here's how our Sunday went:
-combined meeting where the Bishop unknowingly called us up to share the "He is the Gift" video.
-meeting where we left not feeling the best...
-homecoming talk for the Smith's! The housing coordinators who continually saved my life down in Salt Lake. We are so blessed to have them in our area. Elder Smith shared how they actually did learn a new language - Tiwi, pinkwash, textis, etc. Sister Blankenship and I were dying laughing, and the rest of the congregation was quite confused.
-another ward's guest speaker totally forgot, so we got to take over the meeting for thirty minutes with technology problems, spur of the moment scriptures, and Sister Blankenship and I having way too much fun with the whole situation. 
-one last sacrament meeting where the sandman decided to continually poor sand on poor Sister Blankenship's head. 
-talked about family history and were fed plenty of pie and popcorn
-visited with our ward mission leader and helped his family put ornaments on the Christmas tree :)
-Sister Blankenship and I talked with President Hansen for our BYU endorsement interviews!

I love you all dearly! Thank you for your faith, love, support, prayers, tears, laughs, and everything you've been through with me! I am so grateful for my friends and family who have been there with me every step of the way.

Remember to smile!! and MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! hehe we can say that now :) 

Sister Holbrook
Alma 26:22

If you haven't seen the video my family made, you definitely should. Just ask Rachel about it. (The link is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XC8OzfiFNdo)

Ok, this email was far too long.

Merry Christmas everyone!!! We love helping put up Christmas decorations :)

Goodbye to Grandma Stratton's home. Our heaven on earth.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Week 59: Swigget!

We played switcheroo this week.
Sister Blankenship got a milder form of what I had last week.
Which means I had a minor relapse into the world of Kleenex.
But she had ibuprofen.
So we were mostly productive this week.

We had two investigators (people learning about the Church) drop us (they don't want to meet with us anymore) this week. Sad face.

Our Stake is doing a 40-day fast for missionary opportunities. We have one family (or more) fasting every day starting last week and going until two days before Christmas. It has been amazing to see how the members of the stake are receiving promptings for who and how to share the gospel with their friends and neighbors. 

We came across a mom this week who told us she has twin daughters who aren't baptized and she wants them to be taught and baptized... by the end of the year. Miracles? They totally happen.

Baptism is just the beginning. Baptism is an ordinance, which is an outward expression of us making a covenant, or promise, with God. Sometimes, we run across parents, family members, or friends who think that those they have been sharing the gospel with have to be perfect and know everything before they can even think of making such a commitment with God. While wanting to be prepared for making that promise is important, there comes a point where faith must take a role. 

We can't know everything - even in our entire life here on earth. We just can't. But we can feel the Holy Ghost testify to our hearts that this is the true gospel of Jesus Christ. And when we feel that testimony grow, that is when we begin to be prepared for these covenants with our Heavenly Father. We cannot afford to put off such important commitments. When we are living the gospel, when we feel the Spirit, and when we have gained that witness of truth, that is when we are prepared. We don't need to know every story in the Bible, or know every detail of Christ's life, or completely understand the words of Isaiah. It all comes down to one question: 

"When you are baptized, you covenant with God that you are willing to take upon yourself the name of Christ and keep His commandments throughout your life. Are you ready to make this covenant and strive to be faithful to it?" -final baptismal interview question

Baptism is the gate on the path toward the temple. We're not done until we reach the celestial kingdom, sealed together as eternal families. Baptism is the first step along that path. We continue learning and growing along that path. We ultimately go to the temple and make more covenants to lead us to the celestial kingdom. 

I love the simplicity of the gospel!
Pardon my soapbox. 

If I had time, I would go on another soap box about obedience.
98% of problems in missionary life are due to obedience. 
It's a simple principle: do what God asks you to do, whether that's in the scriptures or as revealed to His modern-day prophets and Priesthood leaders, and He'll bless you with miracles.

Sister Blankenship told me about a Young Women's leader whose family had a vase of rose stems - the flower removed and the thorns very much still on the stem. Each person would then take a stem and share the thorns of the year that they were grateful for. How grateful are we for the thorns in our lives?

There have been so many hard moments and so many miracles this past year. I still can't believe I've been a missionary for so long! Thanksgiving last year seems like it was just a few weeks ago. I am so grateful for who my Heavenly Father is shaping me into. It's been a refiner's fire, but I will forever treasure these moments when I had to completely trust in Him. He has taken care of me and blessed me beyond measure. I know this is His gospel! He is in charge! When we turn ourselves over to Him, He will lead us in the path that is best for us.

Isn't it funny how day by day nothing seems to change, but looking back everything is different? #missionmotto

Love you all like a turkey loves to see the sunrise on black Friday! -Sister Blankenship's mom

Sister Holbrook

Spoiler alert: 
Go to christmas.mormon.org on November 25th and watch the video on the 28th. 
Be excited :)

This is the Muddy Gutter band. Fabulously classic bluegrass entertainment at the High Priest social in one of our wards. Basically, a dinner for all the people over the age of 50. It was a blast.

This is my little corner of life!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Week 58: Wassail and Coughing

Top of the temple, Moroni speaking.

I contracted para-influenza this week, more commonly known as croup.
Not fun.

And so it is with a manly voice, a throbbing chest, and a British accent (because it's easier to talk in a British accent that uses the front of your mouth than an American one that uses your throat more) that I come to you all today for a short note to say I'm alive.

Wednesday I was feeling quite ill, so I called the heart doctors and they told me come in via emergency room so they could make sure my heart was fine. Five pokes, 12 vials, and liter of fluids later, they came in to say they wanted to watch me overnight just to be sure, but that the blood tests were positive for paraflu, or the croup. hooray....

So Sister Blankenship and I called our mission president. And then I called my family. Which was super awkward - how on earth do you announce yourself to your own family?! And then I got a blessing from the greatest mission president on the face of the earth. And Sister Blankenship and I had some bonding moments. And we went to sleep. We were out of there early the next afternoon. 

Sister Blankenship and I became pretty good friends this week, if you couldn't already tell. Mostly because, you know, we only have each other. Weird to be in a normal companionship. We had some good contacts and discussed what movie characters we would be. We've come to the general consensus that we're the awkward ones in the background that everyone loves. Beware the grooove....

Other highlights:
We went to the temple yesterday!
We found the best hot chocolate this side of the Mississippi or really on any side of the Mississippi and it's only 99 cents. #happinessinacup
A dog sang "Silent Night" to me. Not well, but still. Impressive.
Wise turtles. Man. They are the best.
IT SNOWED!!! YAY!!! #almostchristmas

We also had a 10-Stake Training with Elder Chidester of the Seventy and President Hansen, our mission president. Wow. They talked about the roles of high councilman and of ward mission leaders. They also talked about how our focus must be on ordinances and covenants for people. Sometimes, we all get too caught up in the programs and details of the gospel. This gospel is simple. We need to help people understand the basic doctrines of the gospel so they can progress in making covenants and receiving ordinances so they can return to live with their Heavenly Father. It's that simple! 

We're doing a 40 day fast in the stake to find 2 families who can be baptized by Christmas. It's been cool to see each ward take it a little differently - we have a few wards who are doing the whole 40 days with just their ward and a few wards who are having lots of families on their assigned days. It's awesome :) #whitechristmas

The gospel is true! I love you all! Remember to smile and find the good in every situation. 
Miracles happen!!! 

Sister Holbrook

PS I'm fine now. Promise.

3 Nephi 26:9

Man, I love my companion and her southern ways.

Our lovely hospital room.

After the temple!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Week 57: What just happened?

I have literally no desire to email today. 
It's almost Christmas!! That's exciting.
We did a lot of family history this week. 
We raked leaves with a lot of people too.
We took Sister Schrock to the airport on Saturday. It was a little weird

Sunday was full of craziness. We went to a ton of meetings for different wards, then there were two Primary Programs that were fabulous and adorable :) One kid's line was "I love my dad because he gives me treats and teaches me Primary songs." Then we had double booked appointments all night. And we had a Veterans' Honor Fireside which was pretty incredible. 

All right, since I literally have nothing to share right now, I'll tell you all about my companion! Sister Blankenship is from the south, she LOVES Christmas, and she is just a ball of sunshine :) She served in this area a year ago and is having a blast reconnecting with people she taught last year. She's the youngest of 5. And basically, she's a boss at being a missionary. She's better at quoting movies than I am, and she appreciates the Amy Grant Christmas CD as much as I do.

Thought for this week: You never know when a church meeting will change someone's life. It could be a Relief Society lesson, a sacrament meeting talk, a comment made, or a hug. Some people are at church for the first time. Some are going through the motions. Some love every single second of it. And some are giving church one last shot. What will we do to create the environment where everyone who enters a church building will feel the love of the Savior? What preparation will we put in to be sure that the Spirit touches their hearts?

I love you all!! Remember to smile and expect miracles :) Because they really do happen!!

Sister Holbrook

Hebrews 6:10-13

Last companionship picture before Sister Weber headed to Layton and Sister Bill finished!

With Sister Schrock just before we took her to the airport. We went to Temple Square with her for a few minutes. Oh, and Sister Blankenship, my current companion :)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Week 56: Swing Low Sweet Chariot

Lots to do. Every single companionship in our zone is having a transfer, so we had to inspect seven apartments already this morning. Short email again this week, but enjoy the pictures!

Transfer Results:
I'm going to be serving with Sister Blankenship in the same area!!! She is one of my favorite people ever, and it's going to be amazing. We are also going to have another Sister with us for a week until she heads home. 
Sister Weber is going to Layton, and Sister Bill is being transferred back to Montreal. I will miss them SO MUCH. I cannot even express.
But. It's going to be an amazing transfer.

Halloween was celebrated by us dressing up as each other, having breakfast for lunch with a few of the Sisters in the zone, the longest District Meeting of my life, and then planning and packing the rest of the night! Oh, and homemade root beer :) 

Power of covenants
This weekend was absolutely incredible. Karen was baptized this Saturday! Her dad just called us out of the blue about a month ago and said they were ready for her to be baptized. It has been amazing to see this perfect, clean daughter of God choose to be baptized so that she could completely follow the example of Jesus Christ. I love her so much, and I am so excited to continue teaching her and helping her get to the temple :)

We also were able to go to the temple with Shaneka and her Young Women's leader to do baptisms for the dead (we were just able to watch). Shaneka is so excited to one day be able to go through the whole temple, and she's going this week with her sister who just got her temple recommend as well.

I am continually reminded of the importance and power of covenants. A covenant is a two-way promise with God - we promise Him something, and He promises something back. If we will keep our part, the Lord is bound to keep His part. Baptism is the first ordinance, or outward expression of making a covenant with God, on the path towards living with our Heavenly Father again. The ultimate goal is to be sealed as eternal families in the temple. As Shaneka was leaving the temple, her face just glowed. One of the temple workers said she looked like a 500 watt light bulb haha :) But it was amazing to see as we met with the whole family the next day how her light made all the others excited to go to the temple as well.

I know this gospel is true! I know that we can be sealed together as families for eternity. I want to be there in the temple with each one of you. Yes, all of you.I know our Heavenly Father wants each of us to return to live with Him. That means you just as much as it means me. As we live the gospel of Jesus Christ, we will experience true joy in every single day. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can be made clean and whole. I love being able to share this message with everyone!

My invitation to you today is to get on your knees and pray, even if it's for the very first time. Your Heavenly Father is there and is listening. He loves you. He will never leave you alone. Turn to Him.

I love you all!! Have a fantastically wonderful week!

Sister Holbrook

Karen's baptism. Best day ever. Sister Nelson, Brother Nelson, Sister Weber, me Sister Bill, and Karen!

At the temple with Shaneka and Sister Sarp.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Week 55: Trunk or Treat! We've moved!

We moved from our beautiful home at Grandma M's to a new (temporary) home at Grandma S's! It's this cute little house that we live on the main floor of (hallelujah no stairs with luggage) and it feels a little like we're on a vacation. We will probably move again in the next week or two (or three...) once the stake finds a place in Centerville South (we're in Bountiful right now), but for the moment we're enjoying the house :)

This particular week seemed to drag on FOREVER. We had two exchanges, all of us had a little meltdown/dying moment/needed to sleep a few hours at some point this week. BUT we also saw miracles! Three people came to church this week, our recent convert's husband has come to church four weeks in a row, we were able to get everything packed and moved out within a few hours, and we have two younger girls who are praying about baptismal dates! 

I got to spend some time with Sister Toutai and Sister Smith on exchanges this week. I love being able to interact with these Sisters and learn from them! Sister Toutai just reminded me of the importance of having meaningful back up plans for every hour of every day. Sister Smith helped me to remember to take a step back sometimes to figure out what's most important. I love how revelation comes through exchanges!

We ate so much this week... ugh. Side note for those preparing to go on missions: you're signing up to expand your ability to eat. There comes a point in your mission where you're able to just put food in without tasting or thinking of the effect on your tummy that's about to explode inside. BUT if that's what gets us in a door or to meet someone, I'll do it. (Don't worry mom - I'm only taking two bites of dessert and managing my portions - it's just by the third dinner, you can only do so much)

We have incredible leaders here. We have the blessing of meeting with our Stake President each week. He knows who the people are and exactly how they are progressing. We all take assignments and report back each week. We have a senior couple who helps us out with finding, new member lessons, and people that we just can't teach anymore because they aren't progressing. We have ward mission leaders and Bishops that we are mostly in contact with daily. There are families we have dinner with who will do everything to make sure someone is at dinner who needs to meet with the missionaries. We have a mission preparation class every Sunday morning. I am continually blown away by the faith of these members to accomplish the Lord's work in this stake.

The Book of Mormon is true! If we will pray in faith, go with a question, and ponder to seek revelation, Heavenly Father will give us the answers we are seeking for. Often times, those answers come as we read the scriptures. I know He is in charge. He will lead us along. 

I love you all! Remember to smile and expect miracles :)

Sister Holbrook

This is pretty fantastic. Church history is absolutely fascinating!

I've met at least 10 people that I'm related to this week. #welcometoutah #smallworld

Our thank-you note at a place that feeds missionaries for free :)

My fabulous companions at one of the three Halloween parties we went to on Friday. #trunkortreat

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Week 54: The Actual Year Mark

So we had some adventures last night taking care of people (emergency room visit for Sister Bill who ended up having peripheral neuropathy or a sleeping arm and so she'll now be on meds for a week and she'll be ok but it means we didn't get home until 2am), so this week I am mostly going to email pictures and give some short bullet points.

I considered totally ditching a weekly email, so you should be excited I'm even doing this right now :)

First, we're moving this week so don't send anything to the Canyon Way address.
  • I have met so many relatives here it isn't even funny. This week's relatives: Holbrook's who are ward missionaries, and the Edward's uncle! 
  • Elder Ballard has amazing ideas for how to share the gospel. Read his past 2-3 talks and write down the ways he suggests that we can have missionary experiences.
  • We have great things going on in this stake! We're going to have a community Christmas festival that is going to be awesome! And every month we host a youth chat. Last night's topic was on the Atonement and it was so powerful! It was amazing how strong these youth are in their faith in Christ.
  • Nathan I need some good jokes! The only ones I have are cheesy missionary ones... oops.
  • Temple Square is a sacred place. We had an amazing lesson there with Karen and her family and friends about families being together forever. Her desire to obey our Heavenly Father and keep His commandments is absolutely amazing. I cannot wait for her baptism and confirmation in two weeks!
  • We had exchanges, people cancelling on us, people triple booking us, 
  • Legacy is a wonderful film produced by the church about the faith of the early pioneers. And it's a pretty great chick-flick for Sister missionaries who want to just relax on P-day :)
  • We saw Meet the Mormons! That was an amazing film. It really gives a glimpse of the basics of the gospel; how our faith in Jesus Christ motivates us to do what we do. Plus, the music was fabulous (fun secret: the song "Glorious" is on the youth site for free!)
  • Revelation comes during sacrament meeting. Every single week. Yesterday we were in church from 9-4, at Temple Square at 4:30, and had appointments until 9. We ate a sandwich that a youth class happened to be using, and that's how our whole day was. It was NUTS. And then we were at the ER.. anyway. Revelation. I was reading in Doctrine & Covenants sections 6-10 and gained a lot of peace and a lot of answers that are helping me in daily missionary decision and big life decisions. I know our Heavenly Father is in charge. He answers our prayers. Every time. 
I love you all! The gospel is true! Our Heavenly Father lives and loves us so much! He will never leave us alone. I know that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is real, and through Him we can be healed, forgiven, and cleansed. Because He lives, and because He loves us, we have purpose in this life, and we can always strive to become better.

Remember to smile and expect miracles!

Sister Holbrook

Some other notes:
Lauren says – “We meet with the stake president every Saturday afternoon and then he buys us lunch because he knows that if he feeds us his stake will be blessed. I have never met anyone so concerned about missionary work in their area. HE's amazing!! He usually comes to our Tues night correlation meeting too.”         What stake president has time for that?
Poor girl – they are moving again this week – she has moved sooo many times.  They have been living at the home of an older woman, but she had a stroke and has been in rehab in Ogden.  So I guess that is why they are moving.
Sister Holbrook is working to help strengthen a family because of some challenges they've had going on with their young son having a heart transplant this summer.  She says – “Coincidence? I think not.”
From Val and Kathy Edwards – We had your lovely daughter in our home last night!  We signed up to have the missionaries come and teach us.  Your missionary brought a young woman from our ward with her.  We got a little acquainted and she taught us a wonderful lesson on the Savior and His atonement.  She mentioned that she had Edwards family in Utah County but we didn’t pick up on it.  At the end of our discussion she offered such a wonderful prayer.  As an afterthought when she was shaking Val’s hand, she said, “You look so much like my uncle Brad!”  Then it became a family reunion!  (Val is Brad’s brother)  I got to hug her twice and she took our picture with her in it.  What a sweet and beautiful woman she is!  I just remember her when she was little and having her heart transplants and all her medical challenges.  She was absolutely vibrant and vivacious and we felt so blessed to have her in our home.

From a sweet sister - My parents had the opportunity to have the sister missionaries, including your sweet daughter for dinner last week. The granddaughters (three of them being my girls) were also there. Your daughter is so kind and has such a cute personality, we just loved her. I appreciated her lesson on diligence and following Jesus Christ's example.  It was a neat experience for my daughters who could possibly serve missions in a few years too. You have a wonderful missionary and she is doing a great job.

The granddaughters after dinner

The Pham and Park families. I love them so much! We had an amazing discussion about temples and why they're important.

With the Edwards


At Temple Square with Karen! Sister Martin, me, Sister Weber, Bro. Nelson, Karen, Sister Nelson, Sister Bill, and Stephanie.

Our youth group chat