Monday, May 26, 2014

Week 33: Mattresses, machetes, and miracles.

Well I have a lot of thoughts. And then I opened my email to amazing news about Rachel's mission call and basically erupted in happy screams and tears. And it's been an incredible week of miracles and emotions and testimony building and Preach My Gospel studying.
The gospel is true! That's basically the message of this whole weekly email. I cannot imagine my life without the hope of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, without the knowledge of God's plan for us all to be eternal families, without the gift of the Holy Ghost guiding me in everything. I love the Book of Mormon. I have gained such an amazing appreciation for this gospel the past few days.
I just have a few miracles from this week to share with you:
Cynthia. We were in Walmart getting water because we ran out when we got a text from Elder Larsen telling us to call Cynthia as soon as possible. So we call her and she asked, "What do I need to do to be baptized?" BEST PHONE CALL EVER. So we were talking with her in the middle of Walmart and our phone died. NO. So we ran around the store like crazy people trying to find someone who would let us borrow their phone. Anyway, we ended up calling her a little alter and setting up an appointment.
A sister from the ward came with us on Saturday morning to the lesson. Cynthia had so many questions, but her faith is so strong. We reviewed the baptismal interview questions with her, and even though we need to still teach her most of the lessons, she knows it's true. She asked about her daughter who passed away at age 3 and her dad who passed away when she was young and never accepted the gospel. As we taught her the Plan of Salvation and promised that she would one day see them again, the Spirit in the room was incredible. Sister Tucker bore simple, powerful testimony that we will be with our families for eternity. The sister from the ward bore testimony that helped calm Cynthia's fears. It was one of the most incredible moments of my mission. I love this gospel. I know it is true. I know we will be with our families in eternity as we strive to obey the commandments here. Cynthia chose to be baptized on June 7th, and her husband wants to be baptized as well, though his testimony is a little slower in coming. They are absolutely amazing, and I love them so much!

Brooke. I have really been focusing this week on putting myself and my fears out of the way in talking to absolutely everyone. We were grabbing a snack after correlation on Saturdaynight and there were a few people there as well. I talked to one guy, and then I was talking with the other missionaries about the stake. Then this girl walked in and I just felt like I needed to talk to her. We talked for a second, and it turns out she's been wanting to meet with missionaries for a while and hasn't known how to go about it!! We took down her information and sent it over to the missionaries in her area.
Moral of the story: open your mouth. Never postpone a prompting. People need the gospel and peace it brings to our lives. 

And now for the less spiritual side of this crazy week:
First off, while waiting for companions to finish emailing last week, I clicked back in some part of our family tree on and found out that not only are we related to Uther Pendragon (read a Camelot legend if you don't know who he is) and some guy named Theseus, but that particular line goes clear back to Adam.

Moral of the story: do your family history and find awesome things like that.
Funny story: Primary kids. We were invited to sing a song in a six-year-old class yesterday. And they were so cute. And they talked about how they could call the cops or Batman if they were in trouble, so the teacher said they should call Heavenly Father. Then I was asked to play piano for Primary singing time in another ward because there were no pianists there. We sang "The Family is of God" probably eight times. And I played "Jesus Wants me for a Sunbeam" for the sunbeams. Best day ever :)
Funny story numba two: awkward run in with the mission president. Twice.
First time, we had to grab something from our Bishop who happened to be in a bishopric meeting while the missionaries who were leaving were just getting out of their testimony meeting. At the same building. So everyone thought we were just crashing their party when we were actually attempting to do missionary work. But we got to help out Sister Hansen a bit, so that was fun.

Second time: we get to the machete story.
We were cleaning out our apartment of Elder relics this week since we needed to, you know, LIVE there. As we were cleaning, we found a machete and a hand ax. Seriously. Majorly lethal weapons in a missionary apartment. No bueno. So the next day we obviously took it all over to the mission office. BUT there was no parking at the mission office. Which meant we had to park over at the church building and walk down the street carrying a very suspicious looking package - a machete and ax wrapped in a filthy T-shirt we also found under a bed. That was fun.
But of course, as we're walking up to the mission office, who should pull up but President and Sister Hansen. They were happy to see us but heading to a meeting. So they walk in to the mission office and we're behind them in the doorway. 
Sister Hansen turns around and looks happy to see us then gives a puzzled look at our package.
"What's that, Sisters?"
"Uh, lethal weapons left by the Elders."
"Oh, what Elder left a bee bee gun this time?"
"um, it's a machete. And a hand ax."
At this point, President Hansen turns around and they both look extremely concerned that these two sweet sister missionaries have discovered a machete in their apartment.
"a MACHETE?! What Elders lived there?!" -President

And then the entire office staff joined in making up stories about the history of the machete.
Love life.

Fun experience with the Smith's of this week: throwing 20 year old mattresses over our little porch down to the truck. Basically the best experience of my life.

We had one of our investigators kind of disappear in Texas. So that's fun. And we're really focusing on finding more and trying to utilize the ideas on page 162 in Preach My Gospel in helping the members be involved. There you have the life of Sister Holbrook. I hope you all enjoyed this highly intense and slightly concerningly emotional email. 

Mission life really is the best. I love this gospel! I love being a missionary! There is nothing better than being engaged in the work of the Lord.

I love you all! Have a fantastic week! Remember to smile and expect miracles!

Sister Holbrook

This talk by President Packer is amazing.

Sister Taylor and Sister Pearson weren't there, but here are the rest of the sisters in the zone!! We have such a blast together haha

Our zone: Elder Fearnley, Sister Jacobson, Sister Cox, Elder Gonzalez, Elder Taylor, Elder Unklesbay, Sister Bill, Sister Tucker, me; front row by face: Elder Westlund, Elder Thevenin, Elder Nelson, Elder Whittle
Love them all.

So we were cleaning out our apartment, right? And we found a machete. And a hand ax. But the machete is the important part here.
So then we had to take the two lethal weapons to the mission office. And of course there was no parking at the office because they were in the staff building so we had to park down the street and walk to the office while carrying a very suspicious looking package wrapped in a T-shirt we also found underneath one of our beds.

Me and Sister Smith. I love the Smith's so much. And they helped take away all of our Elder relics. So wonderful. She also told us we should keep the machete if we had plans to go bushwacking or sword fighting so we could brandish it high above our heads for protection. Love her.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Week 32 (WHAT?!): Transfers and Long Weeks

The results are in and...... duh duh duh....

we're all staying!!!

Sister Bill will be greenie-breaking (having a companion who just finished her 12 Weeks of training) and me and Sister Tucker will move back upstairs!
Sad. But at least we're all still together!!!

Mom's synopsis of our skype conversation (was that really only a week ago?!) was fantastic. Thanks for all the laughs! I love you all more than you know!

Like mom mentioned, I don't really have time to get discouraged. Yes we have our bad days, but it doesn't take away from the joy of being involved in the work of our Heavenly Father. In Preach My Gospel page 11, it says, "When you have done your very best, you may still experience disappointments, but you will not be disappointed in yourself. You can feel certain that the Lord is pleased when you feel the Spirit working through you." When I give my best every single day, I can sleep well and still be joyful in being here, because I know that this is the Lord's work and no greater joy can come than through His Atonement. 

I love Alma 26:16: "Therefore, let us glory, yea we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice for our joy is full; yea we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel." Perhaps that's why emailing is so stressful - there is no way to put into words each week the miracles, joy, and experiences that I am blessed to be a part of every single day. 

I love being a missionary! I love my Heavenly Father! I love my Savior, Jesus Christ! I know that through His Atonement we can become clean and whole. I love the restored gospel of Jesus Christ - the full gospel that is the way we can return to our Heavenly Father. I love being led by the Spirit every single day as I strive to give my best. Who can glory too much in that?

Studies this week have included an intense study of chapter 2 in Preach My Gospel, "Effective Study." Not only does this apply to mission life, but the principles contained (in this and every single page of PMG) apply to improving our study in all things! Praying, practicing, and evaluating are key in any kind of study. The Spirit can help us remember all those things that we need in the moment we need them, if we are prepared. 

This was one of those weeks where everyone and their dog cancelled on us. But did that get us down? Nope. We spent a lot of companionship study this week practicing teaching and inviting people to be baptized. We focused on teaching the lessons, particularly the Restoration, simply and according to the person's needs. We're still working on getting our lesson times down to even shorter (people like to talk a lot when we ask questions), but as we practice we are becoming even better!

We found a new investigator this week - Sherry - from one of our recent converts. She has been through so much in her life, and now she just wants to experience happiness in this life. She loves the Church, and though she doesn't know everything yet, she has a great desire to be baptized! We are so excited to see yet another miracle in the Lord's work - He sent her here so she could find the gospel. That's literally what happens every day in Salt Lake. The people we teach are almost always brought here by the hand of God so they can find the joy and peace of the gospel. There is no other explanation.

This transfer, I have several key goals for myself, but one of them is to really master the art of planning. To really think about these souls, our brothers and sisters, we get to help come closer to the Savior. To use my time more effectively. To be focused on the work. To become more exactly obedient. Lots of things. So mom, this transfer, I'm becoming a master planner :) You should be excited ;)

Alma 37:33-34 is a fantastic scripture that is now one of my all-time favorites.
Hymn 279 verse 3 is pretty great, too.
This talk by Elder Ballard is incredible.

Thank you all for your prayers, fantastic letters and packages, and continual love and willingness to share the gospel with all around you! I know that this gospel, the gospel of Jesus Christ, is the only source of true happiness in this life and in eternity. I know that as we seek to obey His will and do those simple, daily things that He has asked us to do, we will find blessings poured out upon us. 

I love this work! I love these people! I love you all :)
Remember to smile and expect miracles!

Sister Holbrook the Older

Companionship picture at Temple Square!!
Our district at the Utah capitol building (seriously, what other district in the world gets to do that?). back row - Elders Espinal, Flores, Carillo, Unklesbay, Whittle, and Farias
front row - Sisters Taylor, Bill, me, Pearson, and Tucker

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Week 31: Preach My Gospel

It was so fun to skype with Lauren.  Her face is full of joy and light and she is soooo happy as a missionary.  I asked her if she ever gets discouraged and she said “there isn’t time for that – there is so much to do.”  Her trio consists of Sister Bill from Canada, who has been out a year and Sister Tucker from North Carolina, who has been there a few weeks.  Sister Bill’s native language is French and she uses lots of hand movements and facial expressions when she talks which Lauren has caught onto.  Lauren was hilarious when she would randomly make hand gestures to explain something.  Megan would say wait do that again and we all would laugh.  Their study time in the mornings is personal study, then companionship study, then the 12 week study for Sister Tucker, then language study for Sister Bill.  So they are having LOTS of study time.  Lauren expects that next week a 4thsister will be added and then they will split up again.  There are 7 wards in their stake, a retirement branch, and a Spanish branch.  On Sundays they split and each goes with a sister member so that they can cover more wards.  The North part of the stake has been “neglected” and is excited to have motivated sister missionaries to work with them.

They have 3 investigators right now – a couple who has come to church a few times and another lady who is enjoying learning about the Book of Mormon.

They work with a lot of less-actives there and basically teach them the same things they would teach new investigators.  They set temple goals so that someone who is baptized gets on Family Search within 2 weeks, then takes those names to the temple 2 weeks after that.  She gave us the quick lesson on how she introduces the Book of Mormon.  She is such a gifted teacher.  We apparently should all get copies of the 2013 edition with the pictures in the front – the pictures introduce it all step by step. 
Megan and Nathan comment that she only wants to talk about the gospel and teaching, which is true.  It just shows me that she has immersed herself in missionary work and that is all that is on her mind. Which is what she is supposed to be doing!

She is in what I would term a scary part of town.  I try not to worry and pray daily that she will be protected. I asked if she feels safe. She said “Yes. We don't go contact people at night. But thankfully it's light until about 8:30 now. And we have a car. So it's a lot better. And Sister Bill says she's really good at kicking stuff :) So yeah, we feel safe for the most part.“

Her quote for this week was cute - "We don't raise couch potatoes, we raise future missionaries." From
one of the service missionaries :)

The nurses from the hospital called on Tuesday to report on Lauren’s annual.  This is where they do a cath through her leg and look at her coronary arteries and take tiny samples of her heart tissue to see if there is any rejection.  The report was fabulous – coronaries are nice and clear and biopsy is basically perfect.  That news is always such a relief to hear. 

So, there is the report.  We have to wait until Christmas to see her cute face – that is 7 months!



Well today is gorgeous outside. And it's not too hot. And there are mountains. And I'm finally NOT coughing!! oh, and I'm a missionary :) So life is pretty fantastic today and I hope you all can catch the spirit! Because life is a beautiful thing and it's such a blessing to be able to experience everything we do each day! The gospel is true and it brings so much perspective to life!

Yes, I'm happy today :)

First off, Happy Mother's Day to not just my own mom, but to all of those women who have led, taught, and guided me and been incredible examples for me to follow. I love each one of you so so much! Mom, you're the best. And I love you so much!

My annual biopsy was this week and all is well!! I've never been healthier and I'm enjoying every single second of it. 

It was a BLAST talking to my family yesterday! Basically, I have the best family ever. And it was so fun to see all of your cute faces and see how tall Nathan is now (sorry Megan) :) I LOVE that because of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, our families can be together forever. What an incredible blessing that we will be an eternal, forever family as long as we keep the promises we have made to our Heavenly Father. 

This morning as I was studying in chapter 2, I read Doctrine & Covenants 88:118 which says that we are to seek out of the best books words of wisdom and seek learning by study and faith. BUT what stood out to me today was actually in the first few lines - the WHY of learning and studying. "And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom." 

We are to study and learn as much about the gospel as we can, but not for ourselves. We build up our own testimonies and knowledge and understanding so that we can then go forth and help others build their faith. When we know and understand the doctrine, we will be able to teach it simply and according to how people need to be taught to build their faith. 

And then I was reading on page 18 of Preach My Gospel, there's a study activity where it asks, "What influence did [Joseph Smith's] study have on future generations?" Think about that. Because Joseph Smith was studying the Bible, seeking for answers, and later on when he was translating and studying the Book of Mormon looking for guidance, look at what we have today: the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Wow. Think about the effect that our studies and our going forth to share those studies can have on others?! 

My personal study time will forever be a daily priority. I would not be able to have the spiritual and physical stamina for this work without the help of the Spirit and the guidance and revelation given during those morning study hours. That time I have each morning to study and listen is sacred for me, and I love continually learning about the gospel. This is a restoration of questions, and I love finding new questions to ponder and go into the scriptures with. I love receiving revelation and discovering even more questions. It's a wonderful process that really allows us to learn and to follow the Spirit in that learning process.

I love this gospel! I love being a missionary! I love my family! I am so grateful for this restored gospel that makes not only this life an incredible joy, but also the possibility of eternal happiness in the life to come. Family - you're the best. Keep being awesome :)

Remember to smile and look for the little miracles in every single day!

Sister Holbrook

Me and Sister Taylor at the hospital for my annual biopsy. Everything checks out splendidly!! As in I've never been healthier :)

Me and my sweet, wonderful, fantastic, hilarious family who I love a whole lot!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Week 30: My Area: Liberty

It appears I am still in the process of perfecting the art of weekly emails home. This week I will attempt to share funny moments, spiritual upliftment, stories of each person we visited, and the meetings we had. Enjoy!

First off, any of the youth (or really anyone reading this) should go check out the Youth Hastening the Work website. Such fantastic ideas and study helps for being involved in sharing the gospel!

Mom has asked for a few questions to be resolved.

Differences between Bountiful and Liberty
Bountiful is tucked away up in the mountains. Liberty is in the south downtown side of Salt Lake. Bountiful is very prosperous. Liberty is not. Bountiful is well-educated, with lots of opportunities for education, youth activities, etc. Liberty has a lot fewer of those opportunities. Bountiful and Liberty both have people who have been here forever. Liberty has a lot more movement with apartment complexes and young college families.
But the cool thing: both of these areas are full of people of incredibly strong faith. I am just astounded by the role faith plays in our conversion as I have met so many people these past several months. I love both of these areas, and I'm grateful the Lord put me in both of them.

The role of senior couple service missionaries in the stake
We have lots of church service missionaries in our stake. They are older couples from southern Salt Lake valley (West Jordan, Riverton) to Bountiful and Kaysville. They are assigned to a ward or stake in south Salt Lake to help with welfare, visits, and reaching out to various families per the Bishop's needs. They are also there to help us with reaching out to our investigators in more temporal needs, but they also come to lessons with us and contact referrals. They are basically my grandparents here in the stake, and I just adore them.

Funny quotes and stories
"How can we show Jesus that we love Him?"-me  "Go to Church and get married in the temple."-Jaden "That's too fast Jaden."-his mom
"You don't understand." Sister Bill
"We need to pray before we go to bed. I know it's hard, but try." -Sis. P
"Are you wrestling?" "Yes." "Watch out for sharp corners." -Sis. S
"When I look out, I only see beautiful people. There are no freaks here." -sweetest boy who bore his testimony yesterday
We keep seeing cars with bright pink mustaches - fuzzy, bright pink mustaches - on the front of their cars. Who knows why. #welcometoliberty
I saw an old friend from BYU who lives in my area.... weird.

Oh yeah! I went on exchanges with Sister Taylor this week!!! LOVE that sister. We had a blast in YSA (young single adult). It was incredibly different from working in the family wards, but I loved it. We had some adventures, went and walked probably 3 miles to contact people, ate fantastic Dominican food, and texted every person in the entire area. Super fun.

Now for my own little bits from this week: Firesides and Meetings

Clayton Christensen "Everyday Missionaries" fireside over in Rose Park was incredible. Since I'm running out of time, let me just share the five main points he talked about in order to be a more effective member missionary: 
1. We can't predict. Meaning, we can't judge if a person would or would not receive the gospel just because of an outward perspective.
2. We succeed when we open our mouths! or when we invite! see Preach My Gospel chapter 11
3. Ask if they have questions! This is a restoration of the gospel and a restoration of asking questions.
4. Teach them how to pray, to read the scriptures, to come to church, etc.
5. They will feel the Spirit when they serve. Provide service opportunities for them! We need them.

Meeting with Bishop C about the needs of his ward ended up being an awesome experience of us learning about the importance of covenants. When people come to ask for something temporal, what they really need to to make and keep covenants and to enjoy the blessings that come from living the gospel. It's so true - when we do what the Lord has asked us to do, He pours out blessings upon us, and that makes everything work out.

Mini zone meeting with President Hansen about reaching our goals and internalizing our purpose. Everything we do must be working towards our purpose. And we must become converted before we can really help others become converted as well. I love Preach My Gospel chapter 1 so much. We talked about teaching with the pamphlets and how the purpose of that is to help us keep our lessons short, concise, and focused on the basic principles of the gospel.

We were invited to attend a baptism for a sweet eight-year-old girl who's father had recently been reactivated. He is the only member of the church in his family, and so when the time for the confirmation came, he bore his testimony and asked if any other Priesthood holders in the room would come join to help him confirm His daughter. I love seeing the Priesthood in action. It truly is the power of God to act in His name. 

Biggest accomplishment of the week was on SundayWe visited every single ward in the stake. And that's how we do it here in Liberty. We felt so accomplished. 

I love you all! I love this work! The gospel is true! Miracles happen! Heavenly Father loves you! 

Sister Holbrook

Hymn #30 is my favorite. And my mission theme song,
Jacob 5 is amazing. Great personal study reading the book of Jacob the past few days.

Companionship matching. So sweet

Our Sunday snack... at like 7 at night after we broke our fast. Such a busy day