Monday, March 31, 2014

Week 25: Conference Season!

What a week. We're taking this one day by day. Thankfully, I'm a fast typer so I should get it all in before we have to head out for haircuts! #pdaycraziness

Went to this AMAZING Church history museum that is privately owned and the owner loves missionaries so she gave us this amazing tour. I had the opportunity to see some incredible artifacts, including uncut sheets of the Book of Mormon, several old organs, an altar from the Salt Lake Temple, etc. I also had the incredible opportunity not only to see but to also play the original box organ that William Clayton brought across the plains and wrote "Come Come Ye Saints" on. I am so blessed. 

Spent three hours updating the area book, progress records, teaching records, referral information, and more. It was ridiculously busy. But we found some awesome Mormon Messages for you all to watch!!
The Life of President Thomas S. Monson (hour long and totally worth it)
Christlike Attributes. So powerful.

We did also visit a few less active members and had a great visit with one of them discussing different pranks we could pull on others. Looking forward to testing them out... after the mission life :)

Visited a few other less active and very active members. Practiced the musical number for zone conference (see Friday). The laurels fed us a second dinner (almost as delicious as second breakfast) and we had some awesome visits with ward mission leaders.

Planning, lunches with some sisters in the Stake (yes, we had two - I have never eaten so much in my life as the past week), read the Book of Mormon with one of our investigators, had our new investigator drop us in the first lesson, awesome dinner with some crazy kids, practiced music for zone conference, and had everyone cancel on us. 

ZONE CONFERENCE!! I'm such a nerd - I love meetings. I love learning and listening and growing from other people's experiences and perspectives. This zone conference was absolutely amazing. We went from 8:30 until 4:30. And it was AWESOME. I accompanied "Homeward Bound" for our zone musical number and was in charge of prelude, postlude, and the rest of the music for the meeting. It's a good time when your mission president knows you play piano :)

Some highlights from zone conference:
Study the pamphlets. Seriously, get some from your local missionaries and study them. They are absolutely amazing.
Have the faith to find and invited people constantly!
Be excited about the Book of Mormon! It is such an incredible book, and that enthusiasm should carry to everyone!!!
Be creative in missionary work. There's not just one way for every single person.
The Atonement is at the center.
Focus on the simple doctrines of the gospel. Don't get caught up in the details. 
Watch the District. LOVE it. And it really does help in becoming better missionaries as you apply the principles.

As a missionary, holidays are basically the worst times of the year. Why? Because EVERYONE and their dog and their cat and six kids leave for a week. So basically, no one was home, our appointments cancelled, and we had very few people to visit. Granted, we probably could have tried harder to find people. But it was still rough. But we enjoyed a lovely dinner on our own after a neighboring area's baptism, then we went to the.... 

General Women Meeting!!! 
Like I said, I LOVE meetings :) I was in tears basically the entire meeting. So powerful. If you are a woman and love Christ, you need to watch this broadcast. Plus when President Eyring spoke, I had this whole new appreciation for the people he was talking about. When he talked about the youth here who go to the temple, what he didn't share is that the temple had to start opening almost an hour earlier at 4:30 in the morning to accommodate all the youth from this stake going to do baptisms. I love this stake a lot :)

Our usually busiest day was quite low-key as our regular appointments ALL cancelled. BUT we had a great visit with our high councilman, enjoyed six inches of snow, took some ridiculous pictures, shoveled ourselves out of the snow twice (hooray for front wheel drive in the mountains), and went to Church meetings from 9 to 4. I love the mission life :)

Well, I love you all lots! Hope this email doesn't totally overwhelm you and finds you all doing fabulously!! The gospel is true! Our Heavenly Father loves each one of you!!

Sister Holbrook

Transfers are next week, so you might want to hold off sending to the Bountiful address. The mission address is 1535 S Edison St Salt Lake City, UT 84115.

No pictures attached this week, but not because I have nothing. This computer doesn't have the right plug in for it... sad face. Guess you'll just have to wait until next week!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Week 24: Missionary Life Is The BEST!

So people from Mueller Park are finding my blog.... Hello my beloved Mueller Park peeps!!

There are so many amazing things happening in this Stake that I just can't handle it. You want to know why we're so busy that we can hardly handle it?
Members are the secret to everything. They have invited people into their homes, offered to go out contacting with us, come to lessons with us, helped increase enthusiasm in their wards, etc.

This past week we have been having family nights, creating family mission plans, contacting referrals, going to regular appointments, visiting widows, organizing the area book, gone on exchanges, learned from other missionaries, finding new people to teach, reading the Book of Mormon, and a million other things. 

I LOVE being a missionary. 

I love being so busy every single day that the work just completely engulfs your entire focus. I love coming home and being totally exhausted that I fall asleep instantly (a new thing for me). I love being myself as I teach and interact with people all day long. I love giving my all, and then turning to the Lord and having Him make up the difference and more. I love visiting with members and seeing them reach out to people they know. I love meeting new people and sharing my testimony with them. 

I love being able to talk about the Restoration, about the Book of Mormon, and about Jesus Christ and His Atonement every single minute of every day. I love not needing to worry about the rest of the world and the harsh realities of life - or at least, those in my own life. I love relying completely on Heavenly Father's plan for me and for this area. I love seeing people open their hearts and choose to change as they decide to come closer to Christ. I love seeing these sons and daughters of God through Heavenly Father's eyes. I love being here and loving these people with all my heart.

I love being a missionary!

This week I also saw some amazing people: Sister Beeton (one of my first companions) and my two sisters!! Craziness. I love them all so much and am so grateful for the influence they have had on my life. 

We also had exchanges this week. I went to the North Salt Lake stake for a day and had a grand old time contacting referrals, going to a Relief Society activity, and teaching a few lessons. That day was a wonderful reminder to me of the importance of having fun. Missionary work is HARD. Really hard. It is physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally exhausting. I laugh probably fifty times a day at the ridiculous little things that happen to us. When we're having a rough day, we look for opportunities to breathe and laugh for a few seconds. When you have fun, it makes everything that much better. 

Some of the fun moments of this week: we caught some crazy cats that a woman was babysitting, we ate lots and lots of Mexican food, our investigator juggled knives for us, we had a Russian woman yell at us, we took a 17 second nap on an investigator's front lawn when they weren't home, we crashed a member's birthday dinner, we talked in British accents for 20 minutes straight, we had green food for St. Patrick's day, we played frisbee with a dog in 20 degree weather. And maybe those aren't funny to you, but they are absolutely hilarious for me. 

We have a good time out here in Bountiful :)

General Conference is right around the corner and I am SO EXCITED!!!! We are so blessed to have prophets and apostles on the earth today who speak to us and tell us the things Heavenly Father needs us to know and apply so we can be prepared for the things that are coming. 
What an amazing miracle and blessing that is in this day.

This Saturday is the first ever General Women's Meeting for all the women of the Church and of the world!!! It is going to be AMAZING. I would invite every single woman to watch that broadcast this Saturday at 6:00pm MDT. 

Something I write down at the end of every single meeting is "Therefore, what?" Because of the things that I have observed, learned, and felt today, what am I going to do about it?
What will you do about the things that you have learned today?

I love this Church. I love this gospel. I love the Book of Mormon. I love my Savior, Jesus Christ. I love being able to focus completely on Him and Heavenly Father's work. 

I love you all dearly. I hope you all have a wonderful week full of miracles as you go forth and act in faith! Keep smiling :)


Sister Holbrook

Pictures from a youth activity we helped out at. Love the youth of this stake.

Me, Chris, and Sister Juarez at the Christus

Me and Sister Juarez at Temple Square

Me and Sister Beeton... Jessica now :) I love this girl!

POPCORN POPPING on the apricot tree :)

Beautiful Bountiful. I never want to leave this place.

I love the Salt Lake Temple :)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Week 23: The Best of Times

As my dear friend Sister Wolfgramm said, Im gonna make this short and sweet because I would rather read emails than write them :)

This week was full of great adventures, but the major highlights are:

Candice/Sister LeSueur came to visit!
We have a new teaching method!

And I also watched a cat give birth. And someone gave me a box of Thin Mints. Good times.

Tia's Baptism was one of the best days of my life. I am so blessed that I have been able to be with her since the beginning back in November. We have all been through so much together, and Saturday went absolutely perfectly. Except for when my page of sheet music for the musical number fell down... oops. Otherwise, it was amazing. So many of the ward members came to support Tia - we didn't have enough chairs in the Relief Society room, so people were standing in the back! It was absolutely beautiful. The Spirit was so strong

There is great power in the ordinances and promises, or covenants, that we make when we receive those ordinances. At baptism we promise to take His name upon us, always remember Him, and keep His commandments. In return, our Heavenly Father promises us that we will always have His Spirit to be with us. What a powerful promise! 

We also had the opportunity on Sunday to speak on repentance in Tia's ward. I am so grateful for our Savior, Jesus Christ, and for His infinite and eternal Atonement. The Atonement makes it possible for us to change. "When we choose to follow Christ, we choose to be changed." -Ezra Taft Benson. I love Sundays because we have the opportunity to partake of the sacrament. I love the weekly reminder of the changing and healing power of the Atonement, and also the opportunity to renew those covenants we have made throughout our lives. 

"Try a little harder to be a little better." President Hinckley

Saturday was also a great day because Candice was able to come to the baptism. I am so grateful for all that she has taught me, and I am so thankful for her example. It was just the cherry on top of a miraculous day to be able to talk with her for a bit!!

The other thing I wanted to talk about from this week is our new teaching program. I won't go into a whole lot of detail, but basically, this program is going world wide and is completely revolutionizing the way we missionaries teach. This method allows us to get out of the way and truly lets the Spirit teach and guide the people being taught. We as missionaries are simply guides for the people so they can feel the Spirit touch their hearts and teach them the truth. We use the pamphlets - ask your local missionaries for some Restoration pamphlets and study them. They are an absolutely incredible tool that are one of the most under-utilized tools we have. 

The best part of this new method is that we completely focus on the very basics of the gospel. In sixty seconds we can teach the first lesson because we just go over the basics: God is our loving Heavenly Father, the gospel blesses our families, prophets have revealed the gospel throughout time, Jesus Christ organized His Church, we fell into a period of apostasy where the full gospel was not on the earth anymore, Joseph Smith was the first prophet of the modern days and restored the full gospel of Jesus Christ, the Book of Mormon testifies of Jesus Christ, and by reading and praying about the Book of Mormon you can come to know that these things are true.

I love the simplicity of the gospel! I love knowing that my Heavenly Father loves me! I love focusing on the basics of praying, reading scriptures, and going to Church. Those three things are what will build and strengthen faith throughout our lives. Read the Articles of Faith. Those are the simple principles of the gospel that are so true.

I know these things to be true. I love being a missionary! The work of the Lord truly is hastening!


Sister Holbrook

Some photos from the Church News photographer-to-be

In front of Joseph Holbrook's Bountiful home

Me and Tia. This woman is one of the most incredible, prepared daughters of God I know. She is part of my family, and I will forever be grateful for the small part I was blessed to have in her life.

Sister Juarez, me, Brother Wilson (who baptized Tia), Tia, and Sister LeSueur/Candice!!! Love them all. Seriously, that day could not have been more perfect.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Week 22: Simple Invitations

This week was LONG. Seriously, last Monday seems to be an eternity ago. 

I am grateful for my parents. So incredibly thankful for them. I am so glad my dad taught me how to change a lightbulb, fix a toilet, check a fire alarm, etc. I am grateful my mom taught me the importance of thank you notes, weekly cleaning, planning sessions, taking pictures, etc. They have both taught me so much that I have used daily on my mission. Yes I did have to fix a toilet and change a lightbulb, and we do write thank you notes for our dinner appointments. So there's my little shout out to my amazing parents! I am truly blessed to have them for eternity.

Hymn #45 is absolutely beautiful. Especially the 3rd verse.

This week we had some rough patches with our investigators who are preparing to be baptized. Satan works so hard on people as they prepare to make these covenants (or promises to God) at baptism. But we are promised time and time again in the scriptures that Heavenly Father is with us, and He is far more powerful than Satan ever will be. We also saw miracles this week in the number of lessons we had and in the number of members who want to come out teaching with us. This stake truly is incredible, and the members have caught the vision. I am so grateful to be working with them!

We are trying to be more creative in our approaches to finding people to teach and helping members be more involved. We'll see where the Spirit takes us in that endeavor. Ideas would be welcome :)

On Tuesday we had the amazing opportunity to hear from Elder M. Russell Ballard AND Bill Marriott. These are amazing men of God, and I am so grateful that we had the chance to hear from them. 

Elder Ballard spoke about the importance of knowing the doctrine. When we truly know the doctrine, we can go and teach in faith and confidence. When we know the lessons inPreach My Gospel chapter 3, we can testify and teach with everyone we talk to. When we know the truths we teach, we can be confident in sharing our beliefs with anyone, even kings and rulers of the world. When we really know what it is our Heavenly Father needs us to teach, the doctrine moves from our head to our hearts. When teach from our hearts, others can feel the Spirit touch their heart as well, and that is where conversion takes place.

Elder (or Brother... not sure because Elder Ballard kept calling him Bill...) came as a last minute addition to our mission meeting. That man is incredible. His faith truly motivates everything he does, and when he keeps his faith in Christ at the center of his life, he has seen great things happen both professionally and spiritually. He counseled us to look for the right opportunities to be successful, to always accept Church callings, to make work and prayer the recipe for success in all things, to always ask others for their opinions, and to love every single second of whatever you do. 

Something that amazes me every single day is the power of simple invitations. When we talk about lessons, we give the same invitations to each person: Will you read the scriptures, pray every day, have Family Home Evening, keep the Word of Wisdom, pay tithing, obey the 10 commandments, pray to know if the Book of Mormon is true, come to Church, etc. But the three we almost ALWAYS give to people is something we refer to as CPR: will you come to Church? Will you pray every day/to know the Church is true? Will you read the Book of Mormon every day? Church, pray, read. Three very simple things that are completely central to building our testimony, staying converted to Christ, and feeling the Spirit in our homes and our hearts.

And so today, I extend a simple invitation to each one of you: 
Will you pray every day to know that your Heavenly Father loves you? 

It seems a simple thing. You would think everyone would know that beautiful truth. But I know there are several of you who may have never thought of that, and all of us need to be reminded. 
Will you do that this week?
I hope you said yes.
I look forward to hearing about your experiences this next week.

I love each one of you so much. I know this Church is true. I know our Savior lives! I know the Holy Ghost is there to lead and guide and comfort us along the way. I know God is our Father. He loves us, more than we could imagine. He knows exactly what we need, and as we turn to Him in full faith, He will bless us beyond comprehension.

I love this work. I love this gospel. I love my Savior. And I love you all :)

Expect miracles and remember to smile!

Sister Holbrook

Enos 1:15-16

With Tia and the Norman family. They have been a huge help in being friends to Tia and providing a place for us to teach her. And Christian (the Norman's son) is one of the sweetest kids I've ever met.
Besides my little brother :)

Angela, me, and Kinley at Temple Square!! Temple Square is such an amazing missionary tool. It really is a safe haven. And Angela is preparing to be baptized, and Kinley is such a great support and example for her. Love them.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Week 21: Excuse me, I'm popular today.

This week was full of fantastic quotes from all sorts of people.

"Why are you excited to get baptized?" -me
"Because all my sins will be washed away." - Drew, an eight year old. 
Also he's Elder Nelson's great-grandson. More on that later. Should have guessed with an adorable answer like that.

"You'll never know until you APPLY. Whether that be for college, General Conference, the Book of Mormon, tithing, a job, etc." -the wisdom of... ME!

"They're good people so we just love them." - Sister Dixon

In testimony meeting yesterday, a brother was up and expressing his gratitude for me and Sister Juarez, and says... "Just so you know, there's one who likes Disney movies, and the other thinks Disneyland is overrated." Perfectly describes our companionship.

Another one from testimony meeting: "When we came to earth we didn't sign up for a party. We signed up for a test." -Sister Jackson

And this week's title from Sister Dawson.

So you all know: I am down to 3 stamps. So if I don't respond to a letter for a while, please forgive me. I'm buying stamps today, though! So the problem should be solved. 

This was one of those very rare weeks that just seemed to drag on forever. Last P-day seems like it was an eternity ago. BUT it's all good because we still had amazing things happen this past week!

Some great hymns and scriptures for you all to read:
Hymn 105, 3rd verse especially.
Hymn 248 - the old mission theme song
Hymn 251 "Behold a Royal Army" our current mission theme song :)
Jacob 5 is one of the most powerful sections on how much our Heavenly Father loves us. Read it. Study it. Love it.

Moroni 8:3 "I am mindful of you always in my prayers, continually praying unto God the Father in the name of his Holy Child, Jesus, that he, through his infinite goodness and grace, will keep you through the endurance of faith on his name to the end." 
Basically describes how I feel about all of you. I love when the scriptures so directly apply to your own life.

The First Vision is so powerful. Memorize it. Testify of it. Share it in lessons. The Spirit is so incredibly strong when we bear testimony of the First Vision and Joseph Smith's experience that began the Restoration. 

"I saw a pillar of light, exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. When the light rested upon me, I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name, and said, pointing to the other, "This is my Beloved Son. Hear Him."

Do you feel that? That is the Holy Ghost testifying to you that this really did happen. I know that Joseph Smith saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I know that because of that vision, we now have the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth today. And I will forever be grateful for that.

I LOVE the youth theme this year: Moroni 10:32 "Come unto Christ and be perfected in Him."
The youth here are so powerful. 
We went to a youth mission experience this past week. The youth prepared to teach about the Book of Mormon, then they were put into companionships and sent out to various member and non-member homes in the ward. They came back and shared their experiences - some had been rejected, some bore testimony, some were given cookies, etc. It was really cool to see how that little 20 minute practice really had them thinking about how to be a missionary and what mission life really is like. 
We have other youth getting their mission calls right and left - Costa Rica, Australia, Argentina, and all over the world. The power of a righteous mother and father is being felt everywhere as these sons and daughters go out to serve the Lord. I am amazed at their faith, courage, and knowledge of the gospel.

We had amazing lessons with Valerie, Tia, and Angela. Read 3 Nephi 17 and watch some Mormon Messages if you need an awesome date night activity. Or a family home evening lesson. But it works for date night, too. Tithing is a privilege, and I am so grateful for the blessings the Lord pours out upon us as we exercise our faith and obey that simple, yet sometimes difficult, commandment.

We went to a ward chili cook-off where they were playing apostate music... you know, the music that everyone else listens to that missionaries aren't supposed to be hearing for a year and a half. So that was fun. Met tons of people and saw the Bishopric do a beautiful rendition of "Lean on Me." I love ward activities :)

At the Stake Baptisms yesterday, we were greeting people when all of a sudden, in walks Elder Russell M. Nelson!! He was there for his great-grandson's baptism. And he shared a few thoughts after Drew was confirmed a member of the Church. The one thought that really stood out to me: every lesson, every talk, every program, every quorum, every meeting, everything we do in the Church is meant to take us closer to the temple. 

Oh, and Elder Kikuchi of the Seventy bore his testimony in sacrament meeting yesterday as well. I love this area so much. I love this mission. I love being able to be surrounded by these men and hear their testimonies on a regular basis. I know they are called of God to do His work. 

Family history is a powerful missionary tool. You all should start doing your family history and talk about it with others! People really are interested in finding out about their ancestors, and has amazing resources, as do all the Church's family history centers.

Family home evening with members is the best. You learn so much about how to function as a family and for how to run a family home evening. Usually it's the same way that you always did it with us, Mom :) This past week's FHE was with the Packard's and we had a planning session, song, lesson, and treat :) I love family home evening. Challenge: do family night every single week!!

Again, I invite those of you who are not members of this Church to talk to the missionaries, to ask a member, or to simply read the Book of Mormon. I promise you will see great things happen in your life because of those simple acts of faith. And you can always shoot me an email, too! This gospel is the greatest thing to have ever happened in my life, and I simply want to give others the opportunity to experience that same joy. That is my invitation to you.

Love you all so much! Heavenly Father loves you even more :) Do the little things every single day: pray and read your scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon. I love this gospel. I love my Savior. I know this work is His, and we cannot fail if we turn to Him. 

Much love,
Sister Lauren Holbrook

This Mormon Message is an incredibly powerful lesson for all of us. 

Another district picture in our zone T-shirts. Love these missionaries so much.

The new bedroom without the bunk beds! Which means some pictures finally went up on the walls
Exciting stuff :)