Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Week 64: White Christmas dreams do come true

We're going to do some daily play-by-plays for you all to enjoy.

Christmas Eve
Delivered packages to all of the Sisters in our zone while wearing our santa hats :)
Yes, we're adorable.
Left our mail bag at one of their homes which created some delivery issues... and then the zone leaders dropped off more mail for the ones we had already delivered to... 
All mail was delivered at some point during the day.
Went to the Arbuckle's for family brunch.
Met with a Bishop and his family.
Caroled for Grandma Morgan.
Made cookie jars with other ladies at the rest home.
Picked up, packed, and delivered Sub for Santa presents. Best thing ever!
Dinner with the Bradley's where we met their daughter going on a mission this week and the foreign exchange student from Norway. Good times.
Second dinner with the Moriyama's where I saw people who knew Sister Lwin again.
Finished up the night with a part-member family and their kids' adorable puppet show.

Christmas day
Woke up to a WHITE CHRISTMAS! Finally! It was fantastic and snowed all day :)
Brunch with the Holbrook's and Vogrenic's. 'Twas a blast.
Skyped with my adorable family at the Morris's! I have the best family in the entire world. For real.
Stopped by another part-member family we've been trying to get in to for a while. They let us right in, we crashed some family videos, watched He is the Gift, and got a return appointment. 
Waffles, Alfie Boe, and a Christmas message with the Randall's.
Picked up snow shovels from our senior couple then proceeded to shovel their driveway.
First time shoveling a driveway for Sister Soelberg :) So we shoveled a few others.
Dinner and Christmas message with the Grant's! 
Went with the Grant's daughter to the Klein's for puzzles and another Christmas message! Love them.
Miracle of Christmas:
We decide to drive up to our Stake President's house. However, his house is at the top of the mountain, it's been snowing all day, but the plows had been good at getting everywhere.
Needless to say, we got stuck.
Sister Soelberg got out and was shoveling tire tracks to finish getting up. Not the most successful attempts though.
One of the neighbors came out in shorts with a shovel and asked where we were going. We said we were about to turn around, and he refused to accept such an answer. He pushed, we shoveled, I floored the gas, and ultimately, we got up the hill. 
This whole time Sister Soelberg was able to talk with him. Turns out he's been inactive for years but is good friends with the Stake President's family. He accepted a return appointment, we said a prayer with him, and thanked him with some pie. 
As we told our Stake President about this experience, he was shocked. The family had had no interest for a long time and so they had never thought to send us over there.

Getting stuck in the snow isn't all that bad.

Exchanges with Sister Fluegel on Saturday was just a party. Everyone asked where we were from, then if we knew each other before, and then how we met. It was great! We had an amazing experience with a recent convert who asked us to come over out of the blue. She had been feeling depressed and didn't feel like she was feeling the joy anymore. We talked about going to the temple, and she and her husband are going at the beginning of the year! It is absolutely amazing to see how far this family has come in just a few short months.
THEN we had a lesson with Dillon, our investigator who is on-date to be baptized. He wants to move his baptismal date up and is completely prepared to do so! Why, you might ask? So he can go with the youth to do baptisms for the dead at the temple. This kid is just the best.

Sunday went like this.
6:45 Stake correlation meeting in Bountiful.
8:00 ward council in Bountiful, after getting lost in Bountiful church buildings and finding out about potential investigators
9:00 spoke in a Bountiful sacrament meeting
10:15 met with Centerville Stake President
10:50 spoke in Centerville sacrament meeting
12:20 taught Gospel Principles class in Bountiful
1:00 ward council in Bountiful and ran into someone from Mueller Park who moved to this stake!
phone calls and planning exchanges and such until
2:30 Young Women's class in Bountiful
Then the evening we had dinner with a less-active family and our ward mission leader before going on splits for two hours to meet amazing people. I was with Tori who is just the best person ever. We went to an appointment with a member's family members who are visiting for a few weeks. Their family is completely non-members, and they all accepted a return appointment and to take the lessons. It was absolutely incredible! We are seeing them again on Tuesday.

The storal of this mory is: miracles happen in every single day as we live worthy of them. Our Heavenly Father truly loves us! Remember to smile! Expect miracles! #ShareTheGift

I know Christ is our Savior. I know that because of His love and His Atonement, we can become perfect. I know that as we do what He has asked us to do, we can feel of His peace at all times, no matter our circumstances. 

Sister Holbrook

John 6: 5-13 Are we like the little lad who will faithfully turn over all their loaves and fishes to the Savior? The promise is that if we do so, He will magnify our offering more than we can imagine.

Merry Christmas from Sisters Soelbrook ;)

Exchanges with Sister Fluegel (also from Chicago)! Awful picture, but it's whatever.

White Christmas love.


Skyping with the family :)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Week who cares it's CHRISTMAS!!!

We're skyping on Thursday which means this may be short.
Mom can put up the details from Skype on the blog.

Instant replay:

This scripture hit me this morning. I love the promise that the Lord will immediately make His plan of redemption available if we will but do as He asks. All that He asks is that we have the faith to take the first steps toward changing, repenting, and becoming more like the Savior. His love is perfect, His blessing come with time, but His plan can take affect immediately for us as we put our faith into action.

Sister Soelberg is a living, walking Preach My Gospel. It has been an incredible week. I could not have handled taking over two stakes without her. She is coming from Rose Park where she's been over two wards for six months, but she's taking to having seventeen wards quite well. She is from the bay area of California, loves sports and horses, and her favorite breakfast food is breakfast burritos. We are having a blast and getting so much done. 

Miracles of the week: Got new member lessons set up with two of our recent converts who have been avoiding us. One of our new investigators accepted to have regular lessons and not just work on quitting smoking. Mormon Messages answered an investigator's prayers. A referral contacted last night led to an inactive single mom accepting regular lessons because the gospel is all she has to hold on to right now. Most of the referrals we contacted accepted return appointments. We've met most of the new ward mission leaders in the Bountiful North Stake. Our Stake open house wasn't a huge failure and we had leftover cookies that saved an investigator from having to take the time to make some for Santa. Our former investigator accepted to have us come back. We had an incredible service project for four hours where we contacted about fifty different people and gave out tons of He is the Gift cards. I got to practice my Spanish way more than I ever thought possible. We had several potential investigators come to church who accepted a return appointment. Lots of little moments that made the craziness worth it. 

The Widow's mite has taken on a whole new meaning. President and Sister Hansen at our mission Christmas party talked about how the members all around have been donating things to our mission so that each of the missionaries in our mission could receive a Christmas gift. It was incredible to see how many donated and put their faith in the Lord that as they helped the missionaries, they would be blessed. 

President Hansen held up an orange shoe box and proceeded to tell us this story: One woman came in with her two little boys. One of the boys was carrying a shoe box. The woman told of how the two boys had emptied their piggy banks to purchase a gift for the Elders. President Hansen opened the box and inside were a few pens and a stack of Post-it notes. Those boys gave all they could simply because they loved the Lord and His servants. The box was given to one of the Elders there who could barely hold back tears as he accepted the gift. 

I know the Lord blesses us for every sacrifice, no matter how large or small. He is aware of us. He knows our needs. He knows our hearts. As President Eyring said, giving the gift of money is giving much, giving the gift of time is more, but giving the gift of self is giving all.

I love you all! Have a very merry Christmas as you continue to put God first.
Remember to smile!

Sister Holbrook
Alma 35:15 Are we offended by the commandments of God? Or do we accept them with a willing heart?

The most adorable opening to a Christmas party.

I have the cutest mission president and his wife EVER. They sang "I'm gettin' nothin' for Christmas" together." Just saying.

After the mission Christmas party with my new companion, Sister Soelberg!

The CUTEST stocking ever!! Promise I didn't peek :) But look at that. Completely adorable.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Week 62: Transfers

Transfer results:
I'm staying!!!
Sister Blankenship is leaving :( Saddest day ever.  I just love her so so so so much :) You just have no idea. Pray she gets accepted to BYU so we can be roommates at least for summer :) Everyone here has commented on how well we get along - it's been great :)
She's whitewash training in Rose Park!
Which means she is going into a new area that she doesn't know anything about and she will have a companion who just came from the MTC.
She's just the best.
 On my end, I will be with Sister Soelberg! She's from California, she's leaving her first area in Rose Park, and she is a brand new STL.
we're now covering two stakes. 
BUT we only have five companionships of Sisters!
10 Sister missionaries and 17 wards to watch over.
Philippians 4:13 is taking on a whole new meaning right now.

We had a leadership meeting this morning so I don't have much time. 
Quick recap:
Everyone here is loving the video that Rachel and Megan put together about being grateful. They are sharing it amongst themselves and with others as they feel inspired to do so. It's been cool to see how it's become a tool in the Lord's hands to help others feel of the Spirit and of their Heavenly Father's love for them.

Carl is a new investigator. He is currently living with his less-active girlfriend, and they just accepted to take the lessons! The missionaries have tried to meet with them before, but they have new jobs with better schedules, and one of the families in the ward has agreed to have the lessons at their home. It's an incredible miracle to see how this ward's friendship toward this couple has helped them in their desire to learn about the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Fenker family has a dad and a Young Women's age daughter who were baptized last summer. Their mom had a serious accident this summer and has had a ton of health problems since then. We're finally getting back in there to do new member lessons and help them get on family history!

We went to the last five ward Christmas parties on Saturday and one on Wednesday. They were SO FUN! It's cool to see how everyone does it so differently, and yet the Spirit can be felt as everyone strives to turn to Christ and remember the true meaning of Christmas.

We had our best Youth Chat yet last night! 36 youth came including one of our new investigators, one of our recent converts, and one of the youth brought his less-active friend. It was incredible to see how the youth are getting more and more excited about sharing and inviting everyone they know to learn about the gospel they love. We invited four youth to come dressed as Mary, Joseph, and two wisemen to share what they learn from those characters in the Christmas story. I am always astounded at the faith, diligence, and exact obedience of each of these people. We also read from 3 Nephi 1 in the Book of Mormon about the experiences of those who believed in Christ and held to that belief, no matter the worldly consequences. We watched "He is the Gift" and answered some fantastic questions about different principles of the gospel. I LOVE the youth here! It's absolutely incredible to see how strong and prepared they all are to share their testimonies with everyone they know.

Family: I LOVE the family Christmas card!!! You win all awards for that one :) And I'm sending you a legitimate Christmas package (hopefully today... but it may get there the day after instead). Be excited :)

I love the Christmas season. I love feeling of our Heavenly Father's love so strongly. I love knowing that because of Christmas - because of Christ, we are able to return to live with Heavenly Father. I know the Atonement of Jesus Christ is real. I know we can be fully healed and forgiven. What greater gift could our Father in Heaven have given us than the opportunity to choose to live with Him? I know the Book of Mormon testifies of Him in every single page. I love studying the Book of Mormon looking for the character of Christ. I love my Savior!

I love this gospel! I love the joy that it brings to all who choose to discover, embrace, and share it. I love you all. Thank you for your support, love, and prayers. It has been much needed. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ LIVE and love each one of you! I know it to be true.

Remember to smile! Share the Gift! Merry Christmas!

Sister Holbrook

Alma 31:34-35 I love the contrast in this chapter of choosing the way of the world or the way of God. Inspiring thought courtesy of Rachel: Christ's mission lasted for three years, but without the last week, none of it means anything. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Week 61: Weeeee wish you a Merry Christmas!

Christmas comes fast around here, doesn't it?!
Thank you so much everyone for your prayers! Sister Blankenship and I are both back on top of life, totally organized and healthy and attacking the world. Yesterday we received four referrals for families who are ready to hear the gospel, and we'll be contacting them today! Miracles happen every day! The Stake has been fasting together and you can just see the miracles fall into their laps.

How has it been watching He is the Gift? Did you see YouTube yesterday?!
I just love the gospel :)
And the Christmas devotional last night. Incredible.
I love the inspiration, upliftment, and general spirit of love that is just everywhere at Christmastime.
It's the BEST! :)

The new place we live is AMAZING. We live in the basement of a member's home.  The ward is SO EXCITED to have us. The ward mission leader lives down the street. We live right behind the apartments so we ALWAYS have people to visit. It's amazing. We are so blessed. We are finally organized and settled as of Saturday.
We are doing an open house on the 18th!! We're super excited and advertising it to everyone! 
We are reading the Book of Mormon as a mission looking for the attributes of Christ. It is INCREDIBLE. I love the Savior. I also read the Christmas story this past week and was just amazed at the exact obedience of Joseph and Mary. I am so grateful for their examples and their character.
As for the video, I saw it on Monday. Pres Hollingshead (our stake pres) saw it on Tues. He enjoyed it and wants to use it for missionary work here! Just not sure how. But the stake is quickly finding out about my health history. ha ha

Study thought of the week:
When Andrew heard the testimony of John the Baptist, he immediately left John to follow the Savior. That is the miracle of this work - seeing people rely on their own faith and testimonies to follow Christ in all things. THEN Andrew, after spending time with Christ and gaining his own witness that He was the Messiah, goes and brings his brother to Christ. That brother was Simon Peter, the president of the church after Christ had been resurrected. 
Who will we bring to Christ? We do not know their future, but we can know that the gospel will bless their lives more than anything else in the world!

We had Zone Conference this week! The mission is just flying by - I only have one left! Crazy stuff. Bullet point thoughts from that:
  • We do only one thing in this Church: shepherd people to the temple.
  • Read Mosiah 23-Alma 40 and BE ALMA. We now refer to each other as "Alma" instead of "Elder" or "Sister" on occasion.
  • "My religion is to know the will of God and do it." Brigham Young
  • We are in the business of saving souls, not increasing numbers.
  • Unity with leaders and members is the only way we will ever accomplish anything in this work.
  • The Lord is pleased with our efforts. But He is not satisfied. There are people to find that we are not finding. They are His children. He knows where they are, and He knows who He has prepared. We must exhaust every resource and turn every corner until every person has the opportunity to receive the restored gospel. 
  • Senior couple missionaries are just the best. True story.
  • Steady progression and fire in the bones!
Other highlights:
  • Exchanges with Sister Silva (my MTC companion)! It was so fun to reminisce and see ho much we've both grown on our missions.
  • Our recent convert family is going to start teaching (well, they think it's quizzing) us on the lessons. It should be a blast!
  • FIVE out of eleven ward Christmas parties down! Mom received several texts of the two of us in our Santa hats :) 
  • Little Samuel after a meeting with our ward mission leader gave the closing prayer. He asked for the ward to have experiences in sharing the gospel. It was so sweet to see this little 4 year old praying with such great faith for the ward members to have missionary experiences. Do we realize the faith of these children and how simple this gospel truly is?
  • Lots of gift wrapping with one of the families we are working with. And talking about the gospel too :)
We had a fun lesson with Tom - an older gentleman who has been coming back to church for about a year now and really wants to strengthen his testimony of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. He has such great faith, but has a very analytical mind, so he doesn't give his faith much credit. He is willing to keep every commitment and comes to church every week. He's this adorable, slightly grumpy man who just wants to know that his Heavenly Father loves him, and that the Plan of Salvation is real. We testified and were talking for a bit, and he said to see our confidence in our faith was comforting for him. He knows he can gain a witness for himself and wants to work towards that. 

I love when people choose to truly exercise their faith by keeping commitments and obeying the commandments of God. We will not receive a witness until we live His gospel.

I love you all. I hope you all are feeling the spirit of this Christmas season. If we will choose to look past all the commercial hustle and bustle of this time of year and really focus on the why of all of this, the power of the love of the Savior will fill our hearts and homes.

Remember to smile and #sharethegift!

Sister Holbrook

Fluffing a Christmas tree!! 

Best. Mission. President. Ever. For real though. We have to have all of our skills in the same bag if we ever hope to be successful in the "game" of the Lord's work. We can't just focus on finding or planning - they all must work together

Cute Christmas Nativities :)

With the most epic gingerbread house ever at one of our ward Christmas parties.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Week something: #SharetheGift

We moved this morning.
I'm exhausted. 
BUT it should be permanent. HOORAY!
Therefore, this email will be quite short.

New address is 35 S Cara Vella Lane Centerville, UT 84014

So Thanksgiving happened. We had 2.5 dinners, all delicious. It was a fabulous day to give thanks and to practice our abilities to eat large quantities of food. We enjoyed it quite a lot :)

If you haven't seen this video yet, you definitely should. 
Similar to the "Because of Him" video, the Church is really pushing to have this video shared with as many people as possible. Next Sunday, all of YouTube advertising will be this video. The video will be playing on the Times Square jumbotron. Temple Square is playing the video constantly as people come from all over the world to see the lights. The goal: everyone in the world is touched by the spirit of Christ this Christmas season.

The message shared is so powerful: what is the meaning of Christmas and how can we better remember that reason? I love the three invitations at the end:
discover the gift, embrace the gift, and share the gift.

I invite each of you to personally consider what you can do this season to discover, embrace, and share the gift. These are invitations to everyone, not just members of the Church. We all need to feel of the love of our Savior in greater abundance. What better way to feel His love than to share it with others.

We ran into a group of three older gentlemen walking their dogs this week. We went to talk to them about "He is the Gift." One of them was uncomfortably avoiding us. The other just looked at us and said religion tears apart people and walked away. But the third guy just started talking with us - he told us he wasn't interested and never has been and that he would smoke while he talked with us, but that he appreciated what we were doing. We asked if he knew of anyone who needed help, and he asked that we go share some holiday cheer with one of his friends in the area. He gave us the name and address for his friend and we parted ways. 

It's amazing to see how there are so many good people in the world. As we all work together to share the love of our Heavenly Father with others (and maybe they do it without knowing), miracles happen. We all need the gospel of Jesus Christ and the ordinances of salvation, such as baptism and the temple ordinances, but we can still love and respect each other and work together to make the world a happier place.

Man, I just love the gospel! I love being able to interact with Heavenly Father's children every single day! 

In closing, here's how our Sunday went:
-combined meeting where the Bishop unknowingly called us up to share the "He is the Gift" video.
-meeting where we left not feeling the best...
-homecoming talk for the Smith's! The housing coordinators who continually saved my life down in Salt Lake. We are so blessed to have them in our area. Elder Smith shared how they actually did learn a new language - Tiwi, pinkwash, textis, etc. Sister Blankenship and I were dying laughing, and the rest of the congregation was quite confused.
-another ward's guest speaker totally forgot, so we got to take over the meeting for thirty minutes with technology problems, spur of the moment scriptures, and Sister Blankenship and I having way too much fun with the whole situation. 
-one last sacrament meeting where the sandman decided to continually poor sand on poor Sister Blankenship's head. 
-talked about family history and were fed plenty of pie and popcorn
-visited with our ward mission leader and helped his family put ornaments on the Christmas tree :)
-Sister Blankenship and I talked with President Hansen for our BYU endorsement interviews!

I love you all dearly! Thank you for your faith, love, support, prayers, tears, laughs, and everything you've been through with me! I am so grateful for my friends and family who have been there with me every step of the way.

Remember to smile!! and MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! hehe we can say that now :) 

Sister Holbrook
Alma 26:22

If you haven't seen the video my family made, you definitely should. Just ask Rachel about it. (The link is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XC8OzfiFNdo)

Ok, this email was far too long.

Merry Christmas everyone!!! We love helping put up Christmas decorations :)

Goodbye to Grandma Stratton's home. Our heaven on earth.