Saturday, November 29, 2014

Week 59: Swigget!

We played switcheroo this week.
Sister Blankenship got a milder form of what I had last week.
Which means I had a minor relapse into the world of Kleenex.
But she had ibuprofen.
So we were mostly productive this week.

We had two investigators (people learning about the Church) drop us (they don't want to meet with us anymore) this week. Sad face.

Our Stake is doing a 40-day fast for missionary opportunities. We have one family (or more) fasting every day starting last week and going until two days before Christmas. It has been amazing to see how the members of the stake are receiving promptings for who and how to share the gospel with their friends and neighbors. 

We came across a mom this week who told us she has twin daughters who aren't baptized and she wants them to be taught and baptized... by the end of the year. Miracles? They totally happen.

Baptism is just the beginning. Baptism is an ordinance, which is an outward expression of us making a covenant, or promise, with God. Sometimes, we run across parents, family members, or friends who think that those they have been sharing the gospel with have to be perfect and know everything before they can even think of making such a commitment with God. While wanting to be prepared for making that promise is important, there comes a point where faith must take a role. 

We can't know everything - even in our entire life here on earth. We just can't. But we can feel the Holy Ghost testify to our hearts that this is the true gospel of Jesus Christ. And when we feel that testimony grow, that is when we begin to be prepared for these covenants with our Heavenly Father. We cannot afford to put off such important commitments. When we are living the gospel, when we feel the Spirit, and when we have gained that witness of truth, that is when we are prepared. We don't need to know every story in the Bible, or know every detail of Christ's life, or completely understand the words of Isaiah. It all comes down to one question: 

"When you are baptized, you covenant with God that you are willing to take upon yourself the name of Christ and keep His commandments throughout your life. Are you ready to make this covenant and strive to be faithful to it?" -final baptismal interview question

Baptism is the gate on the path toward the temple. We're not done until we reach the celestial kingdom, sealed together as eternal families. Baptism is the first step along that path. We continue learning and growing along that path. We ultimately go to the temple and make more covenants to lead us to the celestial kingdom. 

I love the simplicity of the gospel!
Pardon my soapbox. 

If I had time, I would go on another soap box about obedience.
98% of problems in missionary life are due to obedience. 
It's a simple principle: do what God asks you to do, whether that's in the scriptures or as revealed to His modern-day prophets and Priesthood leaders, and He'll bless you with miracles.

Sister Blankenship told me about a Young Women's leader whose family had a vase of rose stems - the flower removed and the thorns very much still on the stem. Each person would then take a stem and share the thorns of the year that they were grateful for. How grateful are we for the thorns in our lives?

There have been so many hard moments and so many miracles this past year. I still can't believe I've been a missionary for so long! Thanksgiving last year seems like it was just a few weeks ago. I am so grateful for who my Heavenly Father is shaping me into. It's been a refiner's fire, but I will forever treasure these moments when I had to completely trust in Him. He has taken care of me and blessed me beyond measure. I know this is His gospel! He is in charge! When we turn ourselves over to Him, He will lead us in the path that is best for us.

Isn't it funny how day by day nothing seems to change, but looking back everything is different? #missionmotto

Love you all like a turkey loves to see the sunrise on black Friday! -Sister Blankenship's mom

Sister Holbrook

Spoiler alert: 
Go to on November 25th and watch the video on the 28th. 
Be excited :)

This is the Muddy Gutter band. Fabulously classic bluegrass entertainment at the High Priest social in one of our wards. Basically, a dinner for all the people over the age of 50. It was a blast.

This is my little corner of life!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Week 58: Wassail and Coughing

Top of the temple, Moroni speaking.

I contracted para-influenza this week, more commonly known as croup.
Not fun.

And so it is with a manly voice, a throbbing chest, and a British accent (because it's easier to talk in a British accent that uses the front of your mouth than an American one that uses your throat more) that I come to you all today for a short note to say I'm alive.

Wednesday I was feeling quite ill, so I called the heart doctors and they told me come in via emergency room so they could make sure my heart was fine. Five pokes, 12 vials, and liter of fluids later, they came in to say they wanted to watch me overnight just to be sure, but that the blood tests were positive for paraflu, or the croup. hooray....

So Sister Blankenship and I called our mission president. And then I called my family. Which was super awkward - how on earth do you announce yourself to your own family?! And then I got a blessing from the greatest mission president on the face of the earth. And Sister Blankenship and I had some bonding moments. And we went to sleep. We were out of there early the next afternoon. 

Sister Blankenship and I became pretty good friends this week, if you couldn't already tell. Mostly because, you know, we only have each other. Weird to be in a normal companionship. We had some good contacts and discussed what movie characters we would be. We've come to the general consensus that we're the awkward ones in the background that everyone loves. Beware the grooove....

Other highlights:
We went to the temple yesterday!
We found the best hot chocolate this side of the Mississippi or really on any side of the Mississippi and it's only 99 cents. #happinessinacup
A dog sang "Silent Night" to me. Not well, but still. Impressive.
Wise turtles. Man. They are the best.
IT SNOWED!!! YAY!!! #almostchristmas

We also had a 10-Stake Training with Elder Chidester of the Seventy and President Hansen, our mission president. Wow. They talked about the roles of high councilman and of ward mission leaders. They also talked about how our focus must be on ordinances and covenants for people. Sometimes, we all get too caught up in the programs and details of the gospel. This gospel is simple. We need to help people understand the basic doctrines of the gospel so they can progress in making covenants and receiving ordinances so they can return to live with their Heavenly Father. It's that simple! 

We're doing a 40 day fast in the stake to find 2 families who can be baptized by Christmas. It's been cool to see each ward take it a little differently - we have a few wards who are doing the whole 40 days with just their ward and a few wards who are having lots of families on their assigned days. It's awesome :) #whitechristmas

The gospel is true! I love you all! Remember to smile and find the good in every situation. 
Miracles happen!!! 

Sister Holbrook

PS I'm fine now. Promise.

3 Nephi 26:9

Man, I love my companion and her southern ways.

Our lovely hospital room.

After the temple!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Week 57: What just happened?

I have literally no desire to email today. 
It's almost Christmas!! That's exciting.
We did a lot of family history this week. 
We raked leaves with a lot of people too.
We took Sister Schrock to the airport on Saturday. It was a little weird

Sunday was full of craziness. We went to a ton of meetings for different wards, then there were two Primary Programs that were fabulous and adorable :) One kid's line was "I love my dad because he gives me treats and teaches me Primary songs." Then we had double booked appointments all night. And we had a Veterans' Honor Fireside which was pretty incredible. 

All right, since I literally have nothing to share right now, I'll tell you all about my companion! Sister Blankenship is from the south, she LOVES Christmas, and she is just a ball of sunshine :) She served in this area a year ago and is having a blast reconnecting with people she taught last year. She's the youngest of 5. And basically, she's a boss at being a missionary. She's better at quoting movies than I am, and she appreciates the Amy Grant Christmas CD as much as I do.

Thought for this week: You never know when a church meeting will change someone's life. It could be a Relief Society lesson, a sacrament meeting talk, a comment made, or a hug. Some people are at church for the first time. Some are going through the motions. Some love every single second of it. And some are giving church one last shot. What will we do to create the environment where everyone who enters a church building will feel the love of the Savior? What preparation will we put in to be sure that the Spirit touches their hearts?

I love you all!! Remember to smile and expect miracles :) Because they really do happen!!

Sister Holbrook

Hebrews 6:10-13

Last companionship picture before Sister Weber headed to Layton and Sister Bill finished!

With Sister Schrock just before we took her to the airport. We went to Temple Square with her for a few minutes. Oh, and Sister Blankenship, my current companion :)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Week 56: Swing Low Sweet Chariot

Lots to do. Every single companionship in our zone is having a transfer, so we had to inspect seven apartments already this morning. Short email again this week, but enjoy the pictures!

Transfer Results:
I'm going to be serving with Sister Blankenship in the same area!!! She is one of my favorite people ever, and it's going to be amazing. We are also going to have another Sister with us for a week until she heads home. 
Sister Weber is going to Layton, and Sister Bill is being transferred back to Montreal. I will miss them SO MUCH. I cannot even express.
But. It's going to be an amazing transfer.

Halloween was celebrated by us dressing up as each other, having breakfast for lunch with a few of the Sisters in the zone, the longest District Meeting of my life, and then planning and packing the rest of the night! Oh, and homemade root beer :) 

Power of covenants
This weekend was absolutely incredible. Karen was baptized this Saturday! Her dad just called us out of the blue about a month ago and said they were ready for her to be baptized. It has been amazing to see this perfect, clean daughter of God choose to be baptized so that she could completely follow the example of Jesus Christ. I love her so much, and I am so excited to continue teaching her and helping her get to the temple :)

We also were able to go to the temple with Shaneka and her Young Women's leader to do baptisms for the dead (we were just able to watch). Shaneka is so excited to one day be able to go through the whole temple, and she's going this week with her sister who just got her temple recommend as well.

I am continually reminded of the importance and power of covenants. A covenant is a two-way promise with God - we promise Him something, and He promises something back. If we will keep our part, the Lord is bound to keep His part. Baptism is the first ordinance, or outward expression of making a covenant with God, on the path towards living with our Heavenly Father again. The ultimate goal is to be sealed as eternal families in the temple. As Shaneka was leaving the temple, her face just glowed. One of the temple workers said she looked like a 500 watt light bulb haha :) But it was amazing to see as we met with the whole family the next day how her light made all the others excited to go to the temple as well.

I know this gospel is true! I know that we can be sealed together as families for eternity. I want to be there in the temple with each one of you. Yes, all of you.I know our Heavenly Father wants each of us to return to live with Him. That means you just as much as it means me. As we live the gospel of Jesus Christ, we will experience true joy in every single day. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can be made clean and whole. I love being able to share this message with everyone!

My invitation to you today is to get on your knees and pray, even if it's for the very first time. Your Heavenly Father is there and is listening. He loves you. He will never leave you alone. Turn to Him.

I love you all!! Have a fantastically wonderful week!

Sister Holbrook

Karen's baptism. Best day ever. Sister Nelson, Brother Nelson, Sister Weber, me Sister Bill, and Karen!

At the temple with Shaneka and Sister Sarp.