Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Week 51: Once Upon a Dream

This has been a week of plot twists, struggles, laughs, and miracles that I hope I can convey in the next ten minutes in this email. It's all felt like a dream, and I don't think it will really seem real until later this week.

First plot twist: we're in a trio! We found out on Monday night that me and Sister Bill would also be with Sister Weber who was in the MTC with me! It's been a blast :) One day I'll have a companionship that isn't a trio, but for now I love it :) 

Mom asked for a definition of a Sister Training Leader (STL): basically it's a Sister who is called to love, lift, and help other sisters in the mission. There are two called for each zone, and those two are in a companionship. We have a responsibility over 7 companionships (14 Sisters) in the Farmington zone. We go on exchanges with each of these sisters, meaning, we switch companions for 24 hours to see how we can help in their area and personal struggles. We text them throughout the week, organize morning exercises together, find cool activities to do, do cute little packages for them, and basically are their go-to resource for anything and everything. 

Being over 14 sisters is a lot more than most of the other STL's in the rest of the mission, but it's exciting to get to know more sisters and learn from what they do and how they work. I'm excited! Our first exchange will be this Thursday, then for the next two weeks, we'll go on exchanges twice a week. It's going to be crazy!

Centerville South Stake: This stake is incredible. I feel like I'm living inside of a training video from the Hastening the Work website. Everyone is on fire for missionary work! The Stake President expects so much out of us - we have a goal of 2-3 baptisms per month for the rest of the year. Every single Bishop and ward mission leader is excited to find, teach, baptize, retain, and reactivate. We talk about people, meet with the Stake President twice a week, It's very different from Liberty, but I am loving every single second. It all still feels like a little missionary dream, but I'm sure I'll adjust soon :)

Saturday was one of those days where it was a reminder of what missionary work is all about. Sister Bill went to the temple with an old companion and one of her recent converts who was going through the temple for the first time! Then we had two baptisms right after each other, and then went to the General Women's Meeting with Kat and Ashley. It was a nutty day - we didn't even have time to eat! But it was neat to see all of these people moving forward in faith to make commitments and keep covenants - those promises with God that are so important for us to return to live with Him again. 

I know the gospel is true! I know that keeping our promises with Heavenly Father brings us so much joy and power in this life. I know obedience to all of God's commandments is what truly brings us joy in this life.

I miss Liberty so much. I love those people with all my heart. I know the Lord needed me there for a reason, and He needs me here now for another specific reason. I love this work. I love being a missionary. I never want it to end. Sister Bill continually teaches me to love every single second. We all have such great fun together, but most importantly we have amazing spiritual experiences. 

I love you all! Remember to smile :)

Sister Holbrook

Moroni 9:6

The greatest miracle of this week was being able to attend Ally's baptism!! It's been a long five month road, but she was finally able to enter the waters of baptism and make that promise with God. It was an incredible day. Her whole family was there, and the Spirit was so strong. You could tell that she knew of the importance of the ordinance. I love this girl so much!!
Chris and Ally - her boyfriend who introduced her to the church.

Elder Tapia, Elder Patton, Ally, Chris, Sister Tucker, and me! We had to turn her over to the YSA Elders and they finished teaching her. 

With the Francom family. I love this family so much!

Goodbye Liberty!

The three of us at the Conference Center after being soaked :)

Sister Bill and me with the creepy butler we assembled for a Young Women's activity.

Me, Ethan, Sister Bill, and Sister Weber on the day of his baptism!! He's so funny. He doesn't say much, but when he does talk, his testimony just shines through!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Week 50: End of Liberty

Just a few thoughts from this week to share as there is A LOT going on today.

Transfer results: I will be serving as a sister training leader in the Centerville South Stake with.... Sister Bill!! Crazy how the Lord works sometimes. This is her last transfer, and I know it will be incredible to continue learning from her and the other Sisters in the zone.

Alma 17:23 basically describes how I feel about this area.
The Church has produced a film called, "Meet the Mormons." This is an incredible opportunity for members of the Church to share their beliefs and for those who are not members to come and see what this is all about. You can request to have it shown in a theater near you (family you should request it for LZ!) and if certain areas get enough votes, they'll show it in that area! I invite each of you to go to the website meetthemormons.com to check out the video and see what it's all about. 

General Conference is on October 4th and 5th! Are we spiritually prepared to hear what our modern-day prophets have to share? 
ALSO the General Women's Meeting is THIS SATURDAY at 6:00pm MDT. You should all tune in to watch the incredible strength of faithful women in this world. It's going to be awesome :)

Miracle story of the week where God's hand was truly in every detail: 
Sister Holbrook tripped (again) and more-than-skinned her knees (again) on Thursday night. Friday, we needed to then go to Walmart to get some Band-aids since we ran out during the last knee-skinning episode. At Walmart, we ran into two Temple Square sisters who stopped to talk with us. One was from Thailand and talked with Sister Lwin for a bit about Myanmar.

Fast backward to earlier that day: Sister C on Temple Square got back from her outbound (the Temple Square missionaries go serve in other stateside missions for 3-6 months of their mission) and had a family that was from Myanmar that they were starting to teach in California. The family's English wasn't great, so Sister C wanted to know if there were any Burmese-speaking missionaries. Sister C felt prompted to talk to a certain sister from Thailand that night - the one who saw us at Walmart only a few hours previously. They called us up and Sister Lwin will be helping to teach that family about the gospel of Jesus Christ. Not sure on the details of it all, but that's what's going to happen. All because Sister Holbrook fell and scraped her knees up.

Best part of the story though: Sister C calls us AGAIN on Saturday night - we thought for the Burmese family. Turns out, she's the missionary MEGAN first started working with, and she had invited Megan to attend sacrament meeting with the Temple Square sisters the next morning, which we then ended up going with them.

Is your mind totally blown? Because mine definitely was when we figured all of this out.
Heavenly Father truly is aware of each one of His children. He places us exactly where we need to be to bless the lives of His other children that surround us. I don't know why or how He chose to let me have the gospel in my life, to be in this mission, to be a missionary at this great time, etc. but I am SO incredibly grateful for those blessings. 

I love this gospel. I love this work! Sometimes we have to go on faith, but that faith can become strong enough if it is rooted in Christ to perform miracles, even moving mountains if necessary. I love you all! Remember to smile!

Sister Holbrook

Just as a side note for all of you on the Meet the Mormons movie.
LDS Charities is donating all net proceeds from the movie to the American Red Cross to support their efforts to bless people's live around the world.  This is a great article to share with your friends.
Sister Holbrook's Dad :-)

Our district: Elder and Sister Wilson, Elder Meza, Elder Carillo, Elder Lopez, Elder Peshkov (back to front row): Sister Pearson, Sister Tranchina, Sister Banaña, Sister Lwin, me, Sister and Elder Prier.

Me and Megan, one of the greatest people I have ever met. It will be hard to leave her as she continues growing in the gospel!

Serving in the Wells Stake has been some of the greatest months of my life. I love this stake and these people!! #wellsmission 

Selfies in the car. Of course.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Week 49: If the Savior Stood Beside Me

I love this song for many reasons. This week, I love it because I know it's true. The Savior does stand besides us in all things! We had a musical sacrament meeting program yesterday that was a testimony to me of the power of music to touch our hearts. That meeting was for our investigator who was there that day, but I was also able to feel Heavenly Father's love through the testimonies that were shared. 

SO MUCH happened this week. And I have about ten minutes left... ready GO!

Tia. I got a text late Sunday night last week saying that Tia was going to do baptisms for the dead at the temple for the first time on Tuesday! I found a ride up to Bountiful and was able to be there with her for that incredible experience. Tia was able to be baptized and confirmed for her mom, and she had a sweet experience being able to perform that ordinance for her mom. It was amazing to be able to see Tia, to see how she's grown in her faith since I saw her back in April, and how much she loves the gospel! 

Wally and Ayak were baptized on Saturday!! Their dad was so happy for them, and he was able to share some sweet testimonies with them as he reflected on the joy of his own baptism. We asked their dad why he chose to be baptized, and he simply said, "Well, because I know this is the true church." I love this sweet family. I love how they have grown closer together as they have made the gospel a more central focus in their lives. I am excited to continue to help them grow!

We always have amazing lessons with Megan. This week we talked about repentance. For her, it is such a foreign concept, the idea that we can be completely forgiven of anything we do wrong. Sister Banaña and Sister Lwin bore powerful testimonies of the love of our Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ. We talked about how repentance really means changing our lives to be more in line with God's will, and asking for His help and forgiveness to do so. We talked about experiencing a change of heart, and Megan was able to share about the changes she's seen in her life since she's just been coming to church beginning in February. I love her so much. I love her desire to know. I am so grateful for her commitment to the gospel, even if she doesn't fully believe it's true just yet. I know our Heavenly Father answers our prayers. I know He will help us to know what we need to share in the moment we need to share it.

Adame. We had an appointment fall through this past week, but a member came with us so we went to visit some other people we knew about in that apartment complex. We contacted a man named Adame on the stairs, and the member was able to offer him a ride to church. Miracle: he actually came this Sunday! And he really wants to learn more, so the member coordinated a lesson and dinner with him. I love these people. I love their desire to share the gospel! 

Family history. Researching our ancestors, finding their names and stories, and taking those names to the temple to receive the ordinances of salvation is the most incredible thing in the world. I know that as we do family history, we can feel an extra portion of the Spirit in our lives. Working with our ancestors allows us to be even more protected against the continual attacks of Satan. Satan's power is real, but we can counteract that as we take righteous actions!

God's timing. "Some blessings come soon, some come late, but for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, THEY COME." -Elder Holland
"Faith in God includes faith in His timing." -Elder Neal A. Maxwell
Both of these statements are true. We are where we are for a reason. We receive answers for a reason. Heavenly Father tries our patience that we can learn and grown. 

Some science-y stuff for you: This one guy gave a talk yesterday about obedience that was absolutely amazing. He shared from a science article some studies that have been done on decision-making and the ability to make decisions over the course of a day. We all have a limited amount of mental energy. If we use that energy extensively, it goes down and our ability to decide also decreases. If you're faced with a chocolate chip cookie and resist the decision to eat it, you lose more mental energy than if you simply avoided the chocolate chip cookie. He compared this to facing temptation in life. If we choose to just avoid temptation completely, if we make decisions early on in life and in the day, we don't have to use that mental energy later on when we have a limited resource left.

Don't know if that made sense. But it's pretty awesome. Science proves it: living the gospel will make your life easier.

And the best miracle of all: after months of waiting, Ally is finally getting baptized! I love this girl so much, and it is amazing to see how she recognizes how the gospel has helped her in her life. She's an incredible example of faith and patience to me and to her family. The 26th is going to be an amazing day :)

Funny quote: we were walking up to a door and this little kid outside shouted in to his parents, "THE CHURCH IS HERE!!!" So funny!

Oh, and the Spanish-speaking Jehovah's Witnesses missionaries showed up at our door this week. We had an awesome conversation about how faith in Christ has helped us in our lives, and I got to practice my Spanish a bit.

Next week is transfers. Craziness! We'll let you know what all happens.

I love you all! The gospel is true! Heavenly Father loves each one of you. Never forget it. 
Remember to smile. Expect miracles. Pray always.

Sister Holbrook

This is what it's all about: helping people come to the temple to feel the Spirit even more strongly and help others receive the ordinances they need to return to their Heavenly Father. 

Wally and Ayak's baptism!! Getting them to smile is a chore sometimes...

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Week 48: "My future is so bright I have to wear sunglasses!"

This week's title courtesy of Elder Wilson, one of the senior couples in our district.

We had an incredibly busy week that somehow we were able to manage, thanks to the help of our Heavenly Father. We really struggled getting members to come to lessons and visits with us, which has been a little disheartening because we simply can't handle everything on our own. 

BUT this weekend we had powerful talks from Elder HalesSister Burton, and Elder Oaks about the importance of sharing the gospel to help strengthen our families. 
Everyone's pretty motivated, so we'll see what happens this week!

Follow-up. I've heard absolutely nothing about anyone reading Preach My Gospel or the Book of Mormon or praying or anything. So question - do any of you do anything with the challenges I try to give out each week? If not, please do them. I have seen them bless my life and countless others' lives here in this area. If you have, let me know!!!

Challenge of this week: Go create a mormon.org profile, get a pass-along card, put your name and mormon.org profile URL on there, and start sharing your beliefs with your friends!
That came from President Bennett of our mission presidency.
Do it. Let me know how it goes.

Updates on some people my mom asked about:

Megan has been doing really well! We saw her two weeks ago and haven't caught her since - she's crazy busy with her work schedule. She has been praying daily, and we're working on her scripture study. She loves prayer and being able to feel as though that helps another person when she herself can't really do anything. 

Ben was sick this week. Still working on him recognizing the role of faith in his life.

The Ballenger family has made every moment of my time down here in the Wells Stake completely worth it. We went by for our usual family home evening with them last night. They weren't planning on us coming because it was Stake Conference weekend. Turns out, Sister Ballenger was super sick, and has been for a while, so we found some ward members, and within 10 minutes they were over at the Ballenger's house to give her a blessing. It was a powerful testimony builder to me of the power of the Priesthood, the importance of the members of the Church, and the inspiration that comes through planning each day. I know our Heavenly Father guides us in every aspect of His work!

Ally is doing amazing! She's still with YSA so we just check in every now and then. We are waiting to hear about a baptism day for her!

The rest of what I want to share comes from our Stake Conference this weekend. But my family really only wants stories of people and not insights,  I'll keep it short.
  • We must make daily family prayer, daily family scripture study, and weekly family home evening priorities. These are how we teach children the gospel, help protect them spiritually, and strengthen each other.
  • Doing family history work and then taking the names of family members to the temple is a huge part of hastening the work of salvation!
  • Use mormon.org. Do it.
Interesting facts: 
I know all the good Asian food places in this area. Don't go to Yum Yum if you can go to Ho Ho instead. 
Penny Ann's has the best pancakes in the world.
Pink mustaches are apparently still a thing... oh well. 
Puppies love missionaries but dogs do not. Cats can be slightly insane. 
Sometimes you just have to smile at what people say to you. 
Other times you get to solve problems that really only belong in a dramatic action-packed film, not in real life. 
Scones can be delicious if you don't get too many. 
Asking questions is always better than holding them back. 
When people cancel, you are in that area for a reason still. 
Pizza is fantastic and I miss it. Two Asian companions means lots of Asian food. Mexican food is lovely on occasion. Lime cilantro sauce is the best salad dressing in the world. Filipino food smells really strong.
I have the best family in the entire world. 
Even when your area explodes, you don't have to. 
Faith and prayer and charity is what it all comes down to. 
Daily reading of the Book of Mormon brings an incredible power into our lives. Read it and find out for yourselves that it's true!
Selfies are always a party. 
I never want to stop being a missionary. The idea of reality or "normal life" is a complete make-believe world right now.
Heavenly Father really loves to bless His children. We just have to do what He asks!
Being happy is always the best option.
Sometimes we just want to ditch email time... but I love you all too much :)
Lightning storms can keep you awake all night long.
Companions help you keep your sanity.
Several times a day, we want to just stick it in their brains that if you let Christ into your life, everything gets so much better. But we can't. Agency.
Siblings can be really funny and old letters can make your day.
The same goes for good friends.

That's all I can come up with right now...

We have another baptism this weekend, people haven't run away yet this week, and we had a beautiful morning at the temple. Life is good. The gospel is true! Heavenly Father loves us! He will strengthen us as we ask, act, and obey in faith.

I love you all! Stay fantastic! Remember to smile :)
Sister Holbrook

We were prepared before we came to earth to go out and share the gospel!! Doctrine & Covenants 138:56

General Conference is in FOUR WEEKS!!! Are we prepared to hear messages and testimonies and to receive revelation? Reviewing the promises and applications of this past Conference has been absolutely amazing. I invite you all to do the same.

Adventures with my wonderful companions!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Week 47: Little Moments

I was talking with Sister Fletcher (a member who helped us out with some appointments) this week about how our testimonies came. We both agreed that we came to know the gospel was true, the Book of Mormon was true, that Jesus Christ is our Savior, and so on through little moments where the Spirit spoke to us and told us in our hearts that this work is right.

I love those little moments where I have been able to feel of my Heavenly Father's love. I know this is His gospel. His plan is perfect. I know we can all return to live with Him one day as we live according to the commandments He has given to us. 

Fun fact: We are serving in the ward where President Monson served as Bishop over 85 widows. There are still about that many in that ward. 

Follow-up. I know you all are sick of Preach My Gospel, but guess what? Elder Ballard in the last Conference asked every member to have a copy and to start studying it and sharing with missionaries what they've learned from it. So here I am following up - how are you doing on that? I am so grateful for Preach My Gospel and for the inspired patterns it contains not just for now but for the rest of my life! For example, the follow-up section on page 200 is incredible.

We've become so much better this week at being diligent in our following-up with members, leaders, and the people we teach about commitments, lessons, and assignments. It's amazing to see how their trust in you grows, and how they come to recognize the importance of this gospel as we give our all to help them live it.

Jackie showed up at the Jefferson ward last Sunday, and we were able to meet with her this past week. It was an incredible lesson. She is so prepared to receive the message of the restored gospel! Sister Banaña was able to commit her to baptism right there in the first lesson for later in September :) Jackie is so excited, and it was a huge testimony builder for all three of us that the Lord does prepare people to hear the message of His gospel. 

Julie was baptized this week! Despite all the stress and troubles of getting to that point, Julie was determined to make this commitment to Heavenly Father to do His will. She has been an amazing example to her family and friends in a rough area. She loves her Savior, Jesus Christ. She reads her Book of Mormon every day. She just loves living the gospel and recognizes the blessings that come from it. I love her so much, and I am so blessed to have been able to be a part of helping her receive the blessings that come from the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Ally is getting baptized later this month!!! We got to meet up with her this weekend. Again, a testimony builder to me that Heavenly Father is aware of His children and places trials and experiences in their lives to prepare them to receive His gospel. Ally basically bore her testimony to us of how living the gospel - reading her scriptures and praying every day, coming to church, building her faith, repenting, and preparing to be baptized - has brought her so much joy! She wants her family to accept the gospel, too, so they can also experience the joy. I loved seeing the light of Christ shine through her face - she is an incredible example and friend to me. I am so grateful that I was able to find her and have some tiny part in helping her follow Jesus Christ.

Funny story of the week:
We got a text from our zone leaders on Thursday asking if anyone had 3x-large baptism suits. We checked our supply and were able to find two, so we let them borrow the suits with the promise they'd bring them back on Saturday after the baptism. They checked the size of the suits - big enough to drown my tallest, largest friend - and left to go save the Elders who needed the suit. We got a call from them Friday night asking if they could bring the suits back in the morning. We thought the baptism had been cancelled, but it turns out the 3x baptism suit was too small. They ended up having to go buy a 5x-large from the church distribution center. Craziness in coordinating and helping with all of that. 

Maybe that wasn't funny... here's an inspirational quote for you instead.

"If you ever dig yourself a hole that's too deep for you to get out of, call me. We've got plenty of shovels." -Bishop Carling

I love you all! The gospel is true! Miracles happen!! As we pray and fast and ask in faith, Heavenly Father does bless us and answer our prayers. 

Sister Holbrook

Watch this Book of Mormon story. Best quote: "I want this book to fill the world!"

Julie was baptized this week!!! It was so amazing. Her faith and her example to her family blows me away. She is so excited to continue to follow Jesus Christ her whole life.

The Woodward family - Bro. Woodward was the first ward mission leader I met in this area, and we were able to help him get excited about missionary work again. We found out this week that they are moving (where the Lord needs them) THIS WEEK. So sad to say goodbye, but thankfully, I now have awesome kids to babysit next summer ;)

Beautiful Salt Lake. I love this city so much.

With Sister Platero, the best Primary President in the world!