Tuesday, October 28, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sister Holbrook

This is pretty fantastic. Church history is absolutely fascinating!

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Week 54: The Actual Year Mark

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

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

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

Remember to smile and expect miracles!

Sister Holbrook

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

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

The granddaughters after dinner

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

With the Edwards


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

Our youth group chat

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Week 53: Deeply Converted

This is going to be super short.
We went on exchanges with Sister Fernandez this week! I stayed in our area this time which meant I got lost a lot, I realized how badly I need to organize notes, and we had some adventures in contacting people. The three of us all came out from the MTC together, so Sister Bill left us a wonderful "Happy one year" note in the bathroom. It's crazy how fast the time flies. We talked a lot about finding and ways we can use the members more effectively to find.

I hope you members of the Church realize how important you are to hastening the Lord's work. We could not do this work effectively without your help. Thank you.
Karen is this incredible woman we started teaching. Her dad called us and said she wanted to be baptized, so now we're teaching her! She is in her thirties and has some mental disabilities, but she never had the opportunity to be baptized before. It's amazing to see the light of Christ just shine through her as we talk. Every single lesson, she tells us about how she gave one of the pamphlets to a friend at work :) I love her desire to follow Christ completely!
We had interviews with President Hansen this week. I am so grateful for the order of this Church. I know that those in leadership positions are truly called of God. I know President Thomas S. Monson is our prophet on the earth today. What a blessing it is to be able to be led by a modern-day prophet! I know revelation can and will come as we seek for and apply counsel from our leaders.
Speaking of which, how are your goals from General Conference? Have you applied that counsel in your life yet?

Jace and Abby were baptized this Saturday! It was such a sweet day. Their older sister was baptized about a month ago. Their mom hasn't been coming to church for several years, and their dad isn't a member of the Church. The dad has been showing more and more interest with every lesson, and we will be going to Temple Square with them this week! It's amazing to see the strength of the youth here. Their examples of faith and determination to follow Jesus Christ just shines for everyone around them to see. I love this family so so much!

We had dinner with Kat and her family this Friday. It was SO FUN. Their family is so sweet. They've been through so much, and it's neat to see how they are letting the gospel in to change their lives. Kat's husband hasn't been active for several years, she is not a member but is extremely interested, and their nine-year-old daughter wants to be baptized! It's amazing to see how the Spirit touches people's hearts to open them to the message of the restored gospel.
We decided we need to tell each other's stories at dinners. And it was a blast :) It's amazing the things you find out about your companions when you spend 24/7 with them.

I love this work! I love how every single day presents a new challenge. This is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. I will forever treasure this time I have had to grow close with my Father in Heaven and my Savior. I love watching Him shape me and others into His disciples.
I love you all!! Remember to smile and expect miracles :) The Lord is always watching over you. The Book of Mormon is true! I invite each of you to read it, especially every day. There is a tangible power that comes into our lives as we make daily reading of the Book of Mormon a priority in our lives.
Sister Holbrook
1 Nephi 4:6
Romans 5:19
THIS video. Oh my goodness. What does Christ mean to you?

The whole family

Us with Abby and Jace! They are so sweet. And hilarious. 

We found a CORN MAZE!! It was at a ward activity and probably the size of our living room. BUT it was awesome :)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Week 52: Exchanges, Conference, and I have no idea what else just happened

I woke up with a burning desire for hot apple cider, donuts, pumpkin bars, and jumping in piles of leaves.

I love the fall time :)

This was a long week with so much going on. I am dead tired today so I apologize if this email is a little blah. Sister Bill blames it on the impending year mark as when you realize just how tired you are from everything you've done over the past several months. I just think we did so much this week that my body finally caught up with it all. (Note from mom - Lauren's one year mark is on Thursday of this week.  Since she was 12 years old, she hasn't gone an entire year without a significant hospital stay where she slept for days recovering from some ailment.  I am sure she is physically exhausted!)

MLC (Mission Leadership Council): Eight hour meeting on Tuesday. We were dead at the end. BUT we were able to watch part of Meet the Mormons! That is an incredible film! All of you should go and watch it. Seriously. 
We learned a lot of other good things about spiritually uplifting sacrament meetings, meeting goals, and basically how to be more awesome. I'll share those later on in life.

Exchanges with Sister Haddock! Exchanges are when we switch companions for a day. Organizing and going on exchanges is something that sister training leaders get to do with each companionship. This week I was over in the Bountiful Heights Stake. It was a little crazy - we saw someone I started teaching over in Mueller Park, and then one of the service couples from Wells Stake. It was an amazing day full of beautiful views, awkward selfies, meeting lots of people! 

The miracle: we finally were able to meet up with this man who has been coming to church for years. He has never had a desire to be baptized, but as we were visiting with him, he shared that he wants to be baptized in November! They were finally able to add him as a new investigator. It was a tender mercy of the Lord, and a miracle that those Sisters had been praying for. 

General Conference. WOW. We were blessed to go to the Conference Center for three of the sessions. There is such great power in the combined faith of thousands of people. I know this is the true Church of Jesus Christ on the earth today! We are so blessed to have the counsel of modern prophets to guide us through the challenges of the world today. I thought I would just share a few thoughts from the talks this weekend:
·  Heavenly Father needs and wants us to be back with Him.
·  The sacrament must become one of the most sacred parts of the week in our personal lives.
·  Do not fear man! God's help is far stronger.
·  The choice is ours, but truth will always be truth. Personal responsibility is a gift from God.
·  We must strengthen our faith in the words of the prophets NOW. 
·  Parenting is the greatest calling we could ever have.
·  We must apply the Atonement into our lives daily as we consistently seek to improve and become more like our Savior.
·  It's really cool when people give their General Conference talks in their native language :)
·  Christ is the only way to experience peace and joy.
·  Seek after your own spiritual confirmation for those things that were taught.
·  Now is the time to prepare.
·  Always invite others to come unto Christ!
In Preach My Gospel, there's an incredible section about following the prophet and the blessings we have when we do follow the prophet's counsel: 
"Those who listen to and follow the counsel of living prophets and apostles will not go astray. The teachings of living prophets provide an anchor of eternal truth in a world of shifting values and help us avoid misery and sorrow. The confusion and strife of the world will not overwhelm us, and we can enjoy the assurance of being in harmony with God’s will."

I know that as we all seek for our own testimonies of what was taught this weekend, the Spirit will give us the conviction that these things are true. This is what the Lord needs us to know in our day! I know President Thomas S. Monson is God's prophet on the earth today. I know that his words are what our Heavenly Father needs us to work on and apply in our lives right now. The invitation I have for you this week: review your notes, watch the talks, listen to them, and study them, then set some goals for what you will go forth and apply because of what you have heard and felt this weekend. I'll be following up :)

I love you all! Remember to smile and follow the prophet :)

Sister Holbrook
Alma 23:6

Exchanges with Sister Haddock! That's us standing in front of the house of Jon Schmidt. You should be jealous.

Me with Hannah Holbrook elementary while on exchanges!

At General Conference

The tireless trio at the temple!