Sunday, June 29, 2014

Week (I don't want to count anymore) 37

WOW. You know those weeks when everything goes right and you know you won't be the same because of everything that happened and it's just the best feeling EVER and then you have to send an email to your family to sum it all up and your mind is everywhere and your planner is so completely full of things to share and you only have like 30 minutes left in your email time because you're a missionary and email time is like a thing and so you're a little scatter-brained and trying to figure out how to start off the email and then it just ends up being this long pointless story and paragraph at the start. 
Yep that's what happened.
Also: I forgot my camera cord, so no pictures this week. My bad. I'll repent for next week.
First off, EVERYONE should tune in via Facebook to participate in this broadcast with David Archuleta. There will be two - one in Spanish and one in English. It will be an amazing opportunity to hear the testimony of a recently returned missionary and to share the gospel with all those around us, especially for the youth!!
Now, on to the good stuff.
Quotes and fascinating thoughts from Zone Conference that you're going to love:
  • "SSCUF 'til you drop." -President Hansen
  • The EFY Medley sung by a small army of missionaries is one of the most powerful experiences. Heavenly Father truly is on our side!
  • 2 Timothy 1:7-8 "I wish every member of this Church would put those words where he might see them every morning as he begins his day. They would give us courage to speak up, they would give us strength to try, they would strengthen our conviction of the Lord, Jesus Christ. I believe miracles would happen." -President Gordon B. Hinckley. AMAZING scripture and incredible powerful quote.
  • We desperately need the help of every single member of this Church. We cannot do this work effectively on our own, and we will not be able to move forward at an increasingly faster rate if we do not work hand in hand with each other.
  • Strive to emulate the valor, fidelity, and sacrifice of the army of Helaman.
  • We must first live the principle of repentance in our own lives before we can help others to come to Christ and apply the Atonement in their lives. see Moroni 8:24-25
  • Every part of missionary work must work together - planning, finding, baptizing, reactivation, teaching, etc. The same principle is true with all of the gospel! As we all work together to improve in one area to become more like the Savior, we cannot help but progress in others as well.
  • Watch The District. Do it. Great mission preparation in applying the principles of Preach My Gospel.
  • BE EXCITED!!! This is the gospel! This is the greatest gift we have to share!! What greater work could we be involved in?! I love being a missionary, and I hope the excitement I have for this work will continue to be contagious.
  • Believe in the promises of the Lord. Believe He will answer your investigators' prayers. Believe He will help you. Believe that He is by your side. 
I love the lyrics of this sweet Primary song:
Whenever I hear the song of a bird, or look at the blue, blue sky. Whenever I touch a velvet rose, or walk by a lilac tree, I'm glad that I live in this beautiful world, Heavenly Father created for me.
Our Heavenly Father does love us, and He always wants to bless us! I love having the gospel in my life, and I want others to be able to recognize Heavenly Father's hand in their lives as well.
Finally, a talk I read this week called The Fourth Missionary was basically a turning point in my mission and probably my life. And there are a lot of deep thoughts that I won't go into too much. 
Basically, it comes back to covenants and choosing to give our whole hearts to the Lord. To serve with our heart and mind as well as our strength. To put aside our own desires and to always put the Lord's will, work, and ways above our own. To always remember the promises we made at baptism and when we take the sacrament and when we go to the temple. To give even more than our best as we rely on Him and His power.
Like I said, lots of deep thoughts. But don't take it from me - go read the scriptures :)
Omni 1:26 is an amazing scripture, too.
And this quote: "Life is hard, NOT the gospel." That's from the talk. Read it.
Finally, the fantastically hilarious quote of the week goes to Ally.
After explaining the principle of the olive tree and the gathering and scattering of Israel (if you want the whole explanation, talk to my family or search per her request, we explained how it meant that she was being gathered in to the olive tree of the House of Israel. To which she replied: 
"Thanks for attaching me to the tree then!"
Love her so much.
Sorry this is more of a thoughts email than miracles and events.
I love you all more than you know. This gospel is true! Our Heavenly Father's plan is a plan of happiness. I know that through obedience to His commandments, we will experience true joy in this life and in eternity. I know that the Holy Ghost is real, and that as we listen to the promptings we receive and act in faith, miracles happen.
I LOVE YOU!!! Remember to smile :)
Sister Holbrook

THIS talk by Elder Dallin H. Oaks is incredible. All about the priorities we need to have. AMAZING.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Week 36: Planning for Eternities

Megan's a senior.
Nathan's a teacher.
Rachel's a missionary.
And my parents are awesome.
Life is pretty great.

This was an incredible week. Lots of miracles. I've never been so tired, and we worked harder than I ever have before on my mission, and it was amazing! I can't wait to be this tired next week, too :)

First off, I want to wish a very happy day-late Father's day to all the amazing Priesthood holders in my life! I am so grateful for your examples and for your willingness to always do the Lord's will. Especially my dad, who is basically the best dad in the entire world. I love you all so much!!

Now for this week's instant replay:

Tuesday was our temple day at the Bountiful Temple!!! It was so fun to drive through my old area to get up there :) I love the temple. I love being reminded of the covenants, or promises, we make with our Heavenly Father when we go there. I love the peace, love, and joy that we can feel when we attend the temple. I know that we can be together as families for eternity. I know our Heavenly Father loves us! I know the Atonement of Jesus Christ is real. I know that we can be healed, strengthened, and uplifted as we turn to Him and rely on His grace.

Wednesday, Sister Bill and I headed back up to Bountiful for a special meeting with Brother Donaldson of the Church missionary department. We discussed the importance of the short, simple lessons using the pamphlets and other resources, but we really focused on the principle of planning. Everything we do outside of teaching should be planning. Scheduling is simply a function of planning - there is so much more involved in the planning process. We need to constantly be focused on our area and the people we serve. There is no better work for us to be involved in than that of sharing the gospel with our fellow brothers and sisters. And we can only accomplish the Lord's will for these people by taking the time and energy to plan for them. To know what they need, to seek revelation, to decide what to share, to know how members can help, to know where we should go to find people. 

Everything comes back to the time we spend planning. The most important point made, though, was this: We aren't just planning for a lesson or activity or whatever it is we have scheduled. We plan for their eternities. These lessons, the Spirit felt, the testimonies shared, all of these things contribute to whether or not the people we teach will decide to follow the example of Jesus Christ and make covenants with God. 

Needless to say, we've been watching the planning training videos A LOT this week, and we've seen amazing things happen as we've really applied the principles learned from trainings and meetings. I love going forth and applying the things I learn each day, whether it be in a study or from pondering or from a meeting. 

Two experiences to share this week: 

We found an incredible new investigator - Ally - through a media referral. She's been going to church for a while with one of her friends who lives in Layton. We walked in and she said, "So how do we do this? I want everything!" It was amazing. We sat down right then and taught her the first lesson. She committed to be baptized! The Spirit in the room was so strong. You can tell that she knows it's true, and she desperately wants to do all that Heavenly Father has asked of us. We asked her what stood out to her about the Church, and she testified of the cleansing power of the Atonement and how she knows she can repent and change to ultimately return to live with her Heavenly Father.

We also had an amazing Temple Square visit with Lisa, one of our recent converts. She LOVES the gospel, and is always seeking to learn more. We went and saw the Joseph Smith movie. I know Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. I know he restored the true gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth. I know that we now have the Priesthood, the authority of God given to men to bless His children, on the earth so we can perform those ordinances necessary to return to our Heavenly Father. My testimony was strengthened of the truthfulness of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ this past week, and especially of the prophet, Joseph Smith, from that experience with Lisa.

I know this gospel is true! I know the Book of Mormon to be the word of God! I know we will grow closer to Him as we read and pray every single day and do those things He has asked us to do. I love my Savior, Jesus Christ. I know He lives! I know He loves us. I know our Heavenly Father is always watching over us. I know we are in His hands. I know He loves us more than we can ever comprehend. I know it because I have asked for myself. I invite each of you to take the time and to ask, to kneel and pray, and to ask if God is watching over you. I promise if you ask sincerely, He will let you know that you are never alone.

I love you all! Remember to smile and to look for the miracles in every day :)

Sister Holbrook 
the old one

Mormon 5:21,23
Ether 12:27

I love the temple. And my companion :)

Me and Sister Tucker at Bountiful Temple.

The four Wells Stake Sisters at the Bountiful Temple.

And this is the day I walked out of the house wearing two different shoes. This is why we have companions.

I love the Salt Lake Temple!!!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Week 35: You and me, we're in a club now!

After trials cometh the blessings. 
What a true statement. 

We had an incredible week! We worked harder than ever before, and we saw lots of little miracles. I'm excited to go forth this week and work even harder. Continual improvement leads to continual miracles. 

Maya. This ten-year-old girl lives with her mom most of the time and stays with her dad on every other weekend. Her mom is baptist and very against the church. Her dad is a member of the bishopric in one of the wards where we are serving. We have FHE with them every Monday. And this week's was incredible. 
We taught the Plan of Salvation, but Maya doesn't believe in the pre-mortal life. We were able to find out some of her deeper concerns, and ultimately testified of our love and of God's love for her. We really want to help her realize that this is something she has to figure out for herself - she can't let her parents force anything on her. She has the desire to read the entire Bible and then the Book of Mormon so she can compare the two. She is incredibly smart, and just wants to know what the truth is while she has these two conflicting voices around her.
We are praying that in our lesson with her today, we can help her recognize that she is a child of God who loves her more than she knows. And we'll see if we can help her to read the Book of Mormon. 

The Johnson family. Bro. Johnson has been having a lot of struggles the past month. He is a returned member who has become one of the strongest members of the ward. But then he's had trial after trial after trial, mainly with a foot infection that could still potentially lead to him losing the foot. We've been going over to check in on him and his two kids, as well as another guy who lives there who is another recent convert who helps Bro. Johnson take care of his kids. We were making no head way in inviting him to read and to pray every day. He had lost all of his hope, and he had no desire to act on the particle of faith he had left.
But then, a few days later, we get a text from him saying he read the Book of Mormon! And he watched a few Mormon Messages (LOVE THOSE) and had been praying a lot more. As we've gone back to see him several times this past week, you can see a light about him that wasn't there before. His faith and hope have been restored as he has chosen to take those actions to do the little things of praying and reading.

I know the Book of Mormon is true. I know we can come to know our Savior, Jesus Christ, even more closely as we read that book. I know we will feel the Spirit in greater abundance in our lives as we make reading the Book of Mormon a daily priority in our lives.

We ate a lot of Chinese food this week, had lunch with one of the office senior sisters (LOVE her so much), contacted a ton of people, helped solve people's problems, organized our paperwork, had an amazing zone meeting about planning, and enjoyed a beautiful Sunday full of inspired speakers.

I love this work. I love being a missionary. I love being so involved in the work of the Lord. I know this is His work, and because it is His work, we cannot fail. I know we can receive revelation for our stewardships - the places and people that we have been given responsibility over. I know the Holy Ghost testifies of the truth. I know Heavenly Father is there, waiting to bless us. He only asks us to obey. I know miracles happen because of our daily obedience. 

I love you all. I love this gospel! I know it is true. I know the Atonement of Jesus Christ is real. I know as we choose to rely on Him and His way, He will lead us where we need to go and give us the strength we need in every single day. 

I love you! Remember to smile!
Sister Holbrook

Mosiah 4
John 13:17
Chapter 1 Preach My Gospel. The best.

I HAVE A GRAPE SODA PIN. And it was basically one of the best moments of my life. I'm in the club now :)
(the grape soda pin is a reference to the movie Up)

Me and my darling companion, Sister Tucker.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Week 34: Refining Moments

So last week's email was pretty fantastic. And there's just no way I can top that. And I have a few things I have to take care of today for my mission president. 

Basically: this is going to be a super duper short email that will mostly be my testimony. 

All of our investigators had their lives blow up. Same with most of the recent converts, too. And I can't really share any details because of confidentiality issues. But basically anything you can imagine before someone dying is what happened to every one this week. And it's been intense. And we've been put in the middle of it all. There is only so much we can do, and there is so much more to do to become the missionaries God wants us to be. 

On top of it all, I tripped on a sidewalk that tried to eat me and now have two skinned knees and large bruise on my cheek. 

The moral of the story: this has been an overwhelmingly refining week for Sister Holbrook. And it will continue to be.

1 Nephi 20:10 "For behold, I have refined thee; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction." 

Our job as missionaries is to go forth and preach the gospel. The hardest part of missionary work is remembering that people have their own agency, then seeing them utilize their agency in less-than desirable ways. We show them, we teach them, we help them, and they still won't do anything about it. They lose their hope and their faith, and expect us to solve everything. We can't.

2 Nephi 2:27 "Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself."

It is incredibly frustrating when people don't choose to exercise faith and call upon our Heavenly Father for His help. I cannot even imagine how sorrowful that makes our Heavenly Father. But there is an amazing thing: Christ suffered for each one of us, regardless of if we choose to accept His Atonement or not. He loves us so much, and He is just waiting to help us. We simply have to choose to rely on Him, to trust in His plan and timing, and to do the things that He has asked. And those things really are not that hard, because when we do them, we are promised His help.

I know that when we put our trust in God, He helps us. When we call on Him in faith, believing He will answer, He helps us. He is always there, reaching out to us. It is up to us if we will reach back to Him.

I really do love this gospel. I love the peace, hope, and true joy that it brings into my life. I love being a missionary! I would not trade the experiences of this past week for anything. The Lord continues to shape and refine me into the daughter He knows I can become. And He does the same with each of us if we will trust in Him. 

Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding; in all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths." 

I love my Savior. I love my Heavenly Father. I can see their hand in every single day as I actively look for those miracles. I know He is there. I know He loves us. If you haven't recently, or ever, please take the time to kneel and pray. Talk with your Father in Heaven about life. Thank Him. Ask Him for His help. You will find answers and peace in your life.

I love you all! Remember to smile, because life really is a wonderful thing!

Sister Holbrook

Ridiculously deliciously massive breakfast at Penny Anne's. #oops 

The top of Ensign Peak with Sister Lwin!! Woot woot!