Friday, June 12, 2015

a final note

The time has come to return to reality.
And a normal blog.
Please keep in touch or continue to silently stalk at my blog of normality.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is true! 
Forward, and on, on to the victory!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Week 80: The Final Farewell

Well, I'm officially home.
As a final email out, here's a recap of the final week as a full-time missionary.

Our final P-day activity of the usual basketball at a church building.
Two family home evenings with some amazing members in the wards.
Finally finished our task of delivering neighborhood directories and met two fantastic people because of it!

Had my departing interview with President Spendlove. Some key points from there:
-Always live the standards of For the Strength of Youth
-Because of my time in this mission, I have come to know and understand our Savior, Jesus Christ, even more.
-CTR now means current temple recommend
-Serve WITH the Savior, not just for Him.
-Always live your life for others. Think about the effects your decisions will have on your family, children, Relief Society, etc.

Sister Spendlove joined us for a lesson with the Myer's. Her testimony was perfect for the questions that Sister Myer asked. I love seeing how the Lord brings specific people together for specific reasons!
The Lord is good to me: we had several inches of snow that day which is just gorgeous on the mountains of Bountiful.

Departing temple day! We went to the Bountiful Temple in the swirling snow with the 19 of us heading home. Crazy.
I love the peace the temple brings. It truly is the house of the Lord. Before going in, Sister Spendlove shared some thoughts with us that really struck me. She told us to spend time in our true home after we returned home. If the temple is our Heavenly Father's home, and we are His children, then it must be our home, too.
Lunch downtown with everyone, rides to some Sisters, and then back just in time for dinner and evening appointments with my sweet companion.

Final zone lunch and district meeting. Mo'bettah's one last time. District meeting was all about the attribute of patience, which has been extremely helpful the past several days.
Contacted several people with entertaining stories from it all. Had one last lesson with the Vita family. Love them to pieces.

Things got real that day. I finished up basically all of my packing. Crazy stuff.
Had a short, powerful training on the importance of testimony.
Won candy while playing bingo with the people in the care center that our stake covers.

We had one of the most spiritually powerful experiences of my mission later that night. We had dinner with the former stake president and his wife. Shortly after he was released, he was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and given between 6 and 15 months to live. He's into month eight, and seems to be doing pretty well. We talked about Food network, family, health struggles, and how the gospel brings it all together. As we were preparing to leave, they asked about our appointments that night. We had a lesson with the Myer's set for right after. He looked at us and simply told us to tell the Myer's, "Russ and Pauline know it's true." Tears came to his wife's eyes, and I nearly started, too as the power of that testimony hit each one of us.
I know this gospel is true. I know our families can be together forever because of the ordinances of the temple. I know that no matter the challenge we face, the gospel of Jesus Christ can and will bring us the peace we are so desperately seeking.

Phone calls, laundry, packing, early morning meeting with some people in one of our wards, and a final apartment inspection before a final trip to Nielsen's for some custard. Paperwork, more laundry, more visits, and final packing. An accidental door contact with the wrong address led to a fantastic conversation about heart and health stuff. Our final appointment of the evening also had some heart problems. The Lord gives us the exact trials we need to help both us become more like Him and to help His other children. 

The final day. We were in church meetings from 8am til 3:30pm. Final correlation meeting, taught a youth group the Restoration and practiced teaching with them, joined the Myer's at church for a few hours, helped with a youth sunday school class, visited Relief Society, and raced home to finish packing before a final dinner appointment. Crazy day. 
The drive down to Salt Lake was surreal, sitting in the Whittier chapel for the departing testimony meeting was even moreso. We each bore our final testimonies as full-time missionaries, took pictures and visited with all the people who came to visit, and then we were off. Crazy. Fun fact: I got to drive the luggage minvan down to the mission office haha.
We received a final training from President Spendlove, saw the transfer board, had a little performance and visited with everyone. The Elders spent the night at the mission home and the Sisters packed up down to the Bishop's home in the Spendlove's ward. Approximate bedtime: 1:00am

Due to early morning flights, we were up at 4:40am to head off to the airport by 6:30.

It's been surreal. It's still weird to be home. But I am forever grateful for these eighteen months that have changed who I am. I am so grateful for the relationship I now have with my Heavenly Father and with my Savior. I am so grateful for the firm testimony I have that these things are true! I know the gospel of Jesus Christ is the way for us to experience true joy in our lives. I love His work. I love His plan. And I know it is true.

I love you all so much. One of the greatest blessings has been to meet each of you. Your faith and examples have changed my life. Thank you for your goodness and love for the Lord. Keep smiling. Keep living the gospel. Keep loving every moment.

I know our Heavenly Father is there. He lives! He answers every prayer. Our Savior is Jesus Christ. He lives and He loves us. He will never leave us alone. Turn to Him and He will always answer.

Remember to smile :)

Sister Holbrook

Please keep in touch on email or Facebook!

On the plane with Sister Fluegel!
Our departing group!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Week 79: Invite Other to Come Unto Christ

Crazy how the time flies, isn't it?

We had a busy week! Paperwork, practicing a song to teach to a young women's group, lots of visits to lots of people, teaching lessons to members of the wards, ward mission leader visits, getting our oil changed and a Buick for a day, writing final letters, spending time with our sister training leaders on hikes and exchanges, helping investigators with a yard sale (meaning we showed up and said hi), crashing several different ward activities, and a million other things.

We're tired. And it feels so good.

Enos 1:26-27 currently describes my attitude toward my mission.

I have loved every single moment of these past eighteen months. I love sharing what I know to be true. I love focusing completely on the gospel of Jesus Christ, on those things that truly matter from the eternal perspective. I love these people with all my heart. Heavenly Father has put some of the greatest souls to ever walk this earth into my life. I am so grateful for that. I have never been happier, healthier, or more tired. I love the lessons, the trials, and the refinement my Heavenly Father has given to me and taught me these past months. I'm different because of it, and I never want to go back to who I was before.

There's one comfort in going home: the purpose stays the same. 
Our purpose as missionaries is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. 

That is our Heavenly Father's purpose, and all that we do in the Church is geared to that end. To invite others to come unto Christ. That is what we all must do every single day of our lives, whether by example, word, or invitation. It must be a part of who we are. That is what my misison has taught me. To invite others to come unto Christ, with or without a nametag.

Faith in Jesus Christ.
Baptism and eternal covenants.
The gift of the Holy Ghost.
Enduring to the end.

That's what this is all about. Nothing else really matters. It is just that simple. This is how we return home to Him.

I know this is the true church of Jesus Christ on the earth today. This is His gospel. This is His plan for us. This is a plan of joy! I know He loves each one of us. That includes you. He has done everything He possibly can to help us get back to Him without taking away our ability to choose. Oh, how He wants us to choose His path! 

I know the Book of Mormon is true. It testifies of Christ in every single page. I know daily reading of the scriptures and daily prayer will bring us closer to our Father in Heaven and invite the power of the Spirit into our lives. I love the scriptures. I love the time I get to spend on my knees each day. I love our Father in Heaven and our Savior, Jesus Christ. I know They live!

I love you all more than you know. Thank you for your love, letters, prayers, pictures, and general support these eighteen months. It has meant so much. 

Remember to smile! The gospel is true!
I'll talk to you all soon.

Sister Holbrook

Keep in touch:

P-day hike with Sister Johnson!

Snow on Mom's birthday :)

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Week 78: I Know That My Redeemer Lives

Sister Holbrook will be returning home on Monday, April 20th and speaking in church on Sunday, April 26th at 9 am!

Happy birthday Grandma Hyde and Hermana Juarez!! I love you two :)

Quotes of the week:
"All roads lead to a church building. "Sister Hay
"You're a polar bear because you're white." Hermana Tranchina
"That's because the Lamanites rock." -Mitch, a recent convert in response to our daily scripture text
"If you can't bring someone else to Christ, bring yourself." Sister Hay

Precious moment
Sister Allen received her patriarchal blessing this week!
Sister Soelberg and I received permission to attend, and what a highlight that was. It was one of the most spiritually powerful experiences of my mission.
I know the power of the Priesthood is real. I know that Heavenly Father speaks to us today. He will give us specific, personal direction when we ask for it. Patriarchal blessings are powerful, personal scripture for us to use, study, and apply throughout our lives. I know that as we live the gospel, Heavenly Father will pour out His blessings upon us. 

General Conference
We spent conference as such:
Saturday morning with the Compton family, a recent convert.
Saturday afternoon at the conference center with a woman who's been coming back to church for several months and her daughter.
Sunday morning with Sister Skaggs, our landlady who is just the best.
Sunday afternoon at the conference center with the Myers and the Vita's!

The miracle of conference for me was being in the conference center with Sister Myers, who is from Spain, and having two of the talks be in Spanish. That was powerful.

Other thoughts that stood out:
  • Make the Sabbath more holy. Elder Nelson
  • Eliminate distractions from the world and media. Basically everyone
  • Build our lives on our covenants. Elder Pearson
  • Help others to hear and feel the music of the gospel. Elder Andersen
  • Defend the family. Elder Perry and several other people.
I am grateful for the questions I took to conference, for those are the answers and direction I received. I know that what was taught this past weekend comes from our Heavenly Father. If we will study and apply those things the Spirit taught us, we will be able to feel the joy and peace that comes from living the gospel.

Despite it being spring break with 90% of our area in St. George for the vacation, we had miracles this week: someone let us do service and paint their bedroom, we were able to visit a former investigator who agreed to have us come back, our investigators readily accept everything we teach them, a member took us to visit two of the people we had planned to see, Priesthood blessings answered questions, and the Lord simply took care of us and let us know that He is there. 

Sister Hay and I are working on faith and hope, trusting that God's promises are certain, and moving forward with an increased enthusiasm for the work. I love this stake. I love the people we meet each day. I love being able to serve here. I love being able to feel our Father in Heaven's love for His children. I love learning more of His gospel and coming closer to Him each day. 

I am so grateful for the time I have had here to become more like Him, to learn more of Him, and to draw nearer to Him. I love the Lord. I know this is His work. I know it is a work of joy, not of fear! I know He is always with us and will never leave us. If we will turn to our Savior, Jesus Christ, He will lift us, heal us, and embrace us. I know He lives! That is the greatest miracle of this life: that because He lives, we too will live again. That is the hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ and I know it is true.

I love you all. Remember to smile!

Sister Holbrook

I love General Conference :)

I love Temple Square :)

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Week 77: #BecauseHeLives

Sounds mind is to have common sense, which is the less common of all the senses.
Quote courtesy of our ward mission leader.

Also this one:
"Take your pirate shirt and go away."

I love people and the funny things they say :)

We had a very slow week with another one ahead. Everyone and their dog is out of town for spring break, and every school has a different week for spring break. So it's been rough trying to see people or contact new people. BUT the Lord has a plan, and Sister Hay and I have been growing in ways that haven't been stretched before.

This area is causing me to literally grasp at straws, to use everything I've learned these past several months, to pray more than I ever have before. I am so grateful for that. It's a mountain to climb, but I know it's forcing me to become even more of who Heavenly Father needs me to become. And that's what this work is all about: becoming like Him.

I know Heavenly Father answers each of our prayers. It's not always in the way we are expecting, but He does answer. I know He will always be by our side, no matter what we go through. 

If you haven't seen the video yet, go watch it.
I just want to add my testimony that our Savior, Jesus Christ lives! I know that to be true. Because He lives, we all will be able to live again. We have the opportunity to become perfected if we will repent, change, and strive to be like Him. Because of His sacrifice, we can have confidence that He understands every pain, sorrow, trial, joy, and light that we will ever experience. Because I know He lives, I want to help others gain that testimony for themselves. This is the center point of all hope: the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I know that as we turn to Him in faith, we can feel of His power in our lives.

The Stake Vision
We were able to meet with our stake president this past week and understand a little more of his vision for the stake: to improve the three-hour meeting block. And it all starts with talks in sacrament meeting and the lessons taught during the other two hours. Here are just some key points from some of the training he and his wife have given us:
  • Ask inspired questions. No one wants to listen to a lecture. As we engage through the right kinds of questions, others share testimony, and all are uplifted and edified.
  • It all starts before the meeting. We must give ourselves time for the Holy Ghost to tell us what needs to be shared. That comes as we prepare to the best of our ability, using every resource the Lord has given to us.
  • This isn't about you. The Holy Ghost is the only one who can carry the message to the hearts of the people (2 Nephi 33:1). Our job is to create an environment where the Holy Ghost can testify and teach.
  • Remember: people usually come hoping to gain something. Some people may be giving church one last chance. If we will ask our Father in Heaven what His children need to know, He will help us to give the lesson that He would have us give. 
I love you all! I know this is the true gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth today! I know the Book of Mormon is true. I know that as we read from it daily and ask God if it is true, we will become more deeply converted disciples of Jesus Christ. I know Heavenly Father wants each of His children to come back to Him - that's why we share the gospel, why we gain our own testimonies, why we teach each other each week. This is a work of love. He loves each one of you. As we shepherd people to the baptismal font, to the sacrament table, and to the temple, the Holy Ghost will fill our hearts and homes, and we will feel just a taste of the joy our Father in Heaven feels in the soul that comes back to Him (Doctrine & Covenants 18:15-16).

Remember to smile! Miracles happen - we just need to take the time to look for them.

Sister Holbrook

PS It's spring break and the family history center is open for less time, sorry I couldn't respond to everyone!

PICTURES! Your favorite part, I know :)

I love my Texan companion :)

General Women's Meeting with Sisters Hamblin and Johnson!

I <3 my companion!

Flowers just for mom :)

I love the temple so much.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Week 76: Break-Ins and Full Circles

Mom's Note:
We have been out of town in Hawaii for Spring Break, so sorry this letter is late.  
Tia, who Lauren mentions in her letter is a woman Lauren started teaching back in November 2013 when she arrived in her very first area.  Tia was baptized in March of 2014, so it is really exciting that she has now gone through the temple and that Lauren and her 1st companion (Candice) were able to be there with Tia.
She comes home in 23 days!!!!

Lauren's Letter:
Once upon a time, two sister missionaries were planning for the next day when they heard someone banging on their basement window well cover.
Naturally, these two poor missionaries thought that someone was trying to break in.
Lock the doors. Turn all the lights on.
Sister Hay looks out the window and sees three men. 
So we call our district leader to ask if they're outside. 
But the men start laughing, so I open the door in frustration.
And there stood three BYU friends to drop off a package and say hi.
I know the best and craziest people in this world.

Two topics for this week: temple and sacrament.

Saturday was one of the happiest days of my life. 
Tia went to the temple to receive her endowment.
Walking into the celestial room, giving her a big hug, and seeing all of the members from her ward.
That was the best moment.
I was bursting with joy! To see all of these people I love in the best place possible. 
I know the Atonement of Jesus Christ is real. I know we can repent, change, and become clean. I know the temple is His house on the earth. I know we can be families for eternity because of the power of the Priesthood and because of the ordinances of the temple. I know this is His work. I know He loves us. Heavenly Father has done everything possible for us to return to live with Him. He only asks that we keep His commandments. 

We had a fireside with one of our wards last night. 
President Beck, the General Young Men's President, and his wife spoke.
They gave us the assignment to share this video on the sacrament. 
In 3 Nephi 18:7-12, Christ instituted the sacrament among the people in the Americas.
It was one of the last things He did before He was crucified.
It was one of the first things He did after He was resurrected.
How important is the sacrament to the Savior?
How important is the sacrament to you?
How will you always remember Him? 
I am so grateful for the sacrifice Jesus Christ made for us. For you. For me. I know that as we strive to always remember Him, we can feel of His strength at all times. 

What places have become holy in your life because of your labor there?
Each of these areas has become a holy place for me. I love these people.

I know this is the true gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth today! I know He lives! I know His plan for us is perfect, even if we don't always understand it. I know He answers every prayer.

I love you all. Remember to smile, and go out and be the answer to someone's prayer!

Sister Holbrook

Candice, Tia, me, and Sister Moore and Sister Wilson at the temple! Best day ever.

Me and my sweet companion after a very long day.

The wall of sand-dirt in our basement. Sister Skaggs and her mom have collected dirt from all over the world.
Kind of cool.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Week 75: Hay Ho!

The North Canyon stake has been absolutely amazing! There is so much work to be done here. It's been awesome to see how the experiences the Lord has given me this past year or so are helping me to have all sorts of things to apply here now. I absolutely love this stake and can't wait to see the miracles that lie ahead!

Sister Hay is absolutely incredible. She acts like she's been out forever when she's really only been here for six weeks. She loves this area, too, and she's so excited to see the miracles that the Lord has in store for this stake. She works her hardest and is always trying to find ways to be better. She's just an angel. I love her to pieces. She's from Dallas, Texas and loves it there - as any true Texan would :) She has a gorgeous voice and loves piano. She's the youngest of four (three girls and a boy) and just loves the gospel!

We are currently teaching the Myers - they are a middle-aged couple who have lived in the stake for several years. They sought out the missionaries to learn more about the church, and they just eat everything up. Sister Myers is from Spain, so we had a little connection on speaking Spanish (mine is awful by the way). They love learning and coming closer to Christ. Brother Myers needs to quit smoking, but they are so prepared and want to be baptized! 

This area has shown my mission coming full circle. 
I'm currently serving in the stake just south of my first area. As in if we go too far down one street, we're in my first area. Pretty cool. Same view of the temple, too :)

We had a lesson with the Vita family. Their kids, Wes and Emma, were baptized 3 weeks ago. The mom has started coming back to church and went to the temple to do baptisms for the dead last week. They are absolutely amazing! We were visiting with the mom and Emma while we waited for the boys to come in, and here comes Wes with his friend, Garrett. As soon as they walked in, I recognized the two boys.

Garrett's mom was not active for a long time, and we had been teaching her and her family to help Garrett prepare to be baptized. This was a year ago in my first area. Garrett, being the awesome missionary he is, had invited his friend to join in on the lessons with his family. That friend was Wes. Now here we are, over a year later, and both boys have been baptized and are helping their families become more active in the Church. It was incredible.

Garrett didn't remember me at first, but Wes remembered us teaching them how to pray using the prayer sandwich. Then Garrett remembered that delicious lesson :) 

The Lord is aware of His children - including you. I know He will always put people in our path who will touch us forever. I love this gospel. I know His plan for us is perfect, though we may not always understand it. I know He will always give what's best for us. I know trials are the way we can truly come to know our Savior. How grateful I am for those mountains to climb. I love my Father in Heaven. I love my Savior. I know They live!

Remember to smile!
Sister Holbrook

Me and Sister Hay on our first day together!

Us with the Vita family and their friends after our lesson. Wes is on the far left and Garrett is on the right. I love those boys and their families.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Week 74: Change is a part of the gospel of Jesus Christ

Just when you think you've mastered change.

President Spendlove called us Saturday night with transfer information.
Sister Soelberg is going to Tooele North Stake.
I'm going to the Bountiful North Canyon Stake to finish training Sister Hay.
Sisters Poppleton and Armstrong will be whitewashing our area.

Bittersweet transfer. 
Centerville South and Bountiful North have become my home. Leaving these people will be one of the hardest things. They're my family now. But there's comfort in knowing that this is Heavenly Father's work. He will take care of these people more than I ever could.

At least I'll see them in a few months, right?
Time flies far too quickly.

New address:
967 Chelsea Drive, Bountiful UT

Joshua 3-4
The children of Israel had seen miracles and had been wandering in the wilderness for years. They saw Moses part the Red Sea. And here they are faced with crossing the river Jordan.
However, this wasn't the miracle they expected. The river didn't part on its own. We learn that they had to get the soles of their feet wet before the water stopped coming, before they were able to pass through on dry ground.

What kind of faith do we have? Do we wait around for miracles? Or do we go out and get our feet wet? Do we show Heavenly Father that we will do everything we possibly can before we expect His help? 

What can you do to get your feet wet?

The amazing thing in this area has been seeing people choose to get their feet wet.

For example, the Alan family. 
Sister Alan is absolutely amazing. We stopped by a few months ago, and since then, she's been coming to church, bringing her boys, and doing everything within her power to get to the temple. She called us the other day to tell us about how she's working towards receiving her patriarchal blessing and her next step is to go to the temple. Her husband isn't too supportive. But she will do anything and everything within her power to live the gospel of Jesus Christ every single day. 

Her faith is incredible. And because she got her feet wet, miracles are happening.

I love this gospel! I love this work! I know it is His. We wouldn't be able to do it otherwise. I love you all so much. Sorry this is short - time is short. Just know that I know the gospel of Jesus Christ is true. I wish I could share all that I've learned and experienced here. I love the Lord and I know He will always help us. He loves each one of you so much. He answers every prayer. 

Remember to smile!

Sister Holbrook


Matthew 19:20 Ask Christ for your next step in changing, but be willing to make that change and give your whole self to Him.

Me and Sister Soelberg with Tom! He is just the best. He was [in]active for a long time and has been coming to church for almost a year now! We're helping him to keep building his faith.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Week 73: My fro wasn't big enough, so they didn't send me to Africa

Title courtesy of Rachel (see picture below).

Our new mission president is officially here! 
We'll meet him tomorrow for the first time.

Headaches resolved: it's a sinus infection.
So grateful it's nothing major.
Antibiotic power now.

We did a lot this week, and I'm really struggling to remember it all.

One of the most frustrating things is when you know you've done everything you possibly could have done, and people still won't keep their commitments. We've been coordinating with members, showing up at doors, and inviting and texting and calling to get our investigators to come to church. The only thing we haven't done is take away their agency which we can't do. It's frustrating, but mostly heartbreaking. You know how much it will bless their life if they will just do it! It takes faith to put aside everything and go to church, but the Lord always gives us tenfold for the sacrifices we make for Him.

It's interesting to see how hard Satan works on these people, how much he will throw at them so they won't keep these commitments and feel of that joy. We have to be out daily, finding them, helping them, texting them, sending members to visit them. They need that daily contact to build up an armor against all the temptations that are in the world today. Heavenly Father's power and love is so much stronger than anything else - we need to help them feel that constantly.

President Eyring's last General Conference talk about continuing revelation really struck me this morning. I love his comments about "confirming revelation." We need to ask for and receive that witness from the Holy Ghost that the direction from our leaders is what God needs us to do. I know that as we listen and follow the words of the prophet and apostles, as well as our leaders in the Church and at home, we will feel our Heavenly Father's love and His Spirit in our hearts and in our homes.

Zone Conference this week was incredible. Saying goodbye to President Hansen was hard, but I know that the new mission president has been called of God to help us at this time. Heavenly Father directs us as we seek His help in planning for all we do. As we work with members and leaders more effectively, more of His children will be able to experience all the gospel has to offer. This is about helping all of God's children get to the temple to be able to experience all the blessings of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It's not something to just check off a list - this is the eternal salvation of the children of God.

I love you all! I testify that Heavenly Father is aware of each of His children. He knows them individually and perfectly. If we ask for His help in those opportunities to teach, serve, and love, He will lead us to them. I know this gospel is the greatest source of joy! 

Sister Holbrook

Dinner with the Stenquist's!!

Me and Rachel!! She's getting ready for her mission in Louisiana! She leaves April 22nd. Crazy, right? Anyway, she's our adopted third companion and is just the best.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Week 72: What percentage of your mission is little awkward moments?

One hundred percent, sir.
Best question ever.
Other awkward question from our youth fireside last night: Are you less attracted to guys now that you're missionaries?
I just love the youth.

Alma 59:1-2 When we experience joy, we naturally want to share it with others! Captain Moroni is one of my heroes. He's an expert planner, follows the Spirit, and loves to share the gospel!

Andy was baptized on Saturday! It was amazing to see all of his friends and family members attend. There were powerful messages about Christ and the importance of daily habits.

"Our habits determine who we will become." -President Hollingshead
"God is bilingual." -Hermana Dickson when I was on exchanges in the Spanish program for the day! Yes, I survived because everyone would start talking English when they saw me haha :) But I got some good Spanish practice that day.

Alma 58:11 is a wonderful verse about the Lord giving us peace in the hardest of trials.

This week, I simply want to bear my testimony of God's promises. They are sure. One of the best feelings in the world is to do everything within my power, ask for His help, and then step back and watch Him make everything work. There are no coincidences. Ever. His hand is in every moment of our lives, if we will just look for it.

I know that the blessings He promises will always come to pass. We simply need to do what He asks us to do. In Preach My Gospel we read, "When you have done your very best, you may still experience disappointments, but you will not be disappointed in yourself. You can feel certain that the Lord is pleased when you feel the Spirit working through you."
We can feel that power every single day as armor up, prepare for the daily battle against Satan, and rely on His strength. This week has been a week of giving everything I could but it not being very much with various problems of being sick. And yet, as Sister Soelberg and I have given everything possible, the Lord has placed us in people's paths. We have two new families to teach. We have a less-active man who wants to come back to church. We have a woman who came to church on her own for the first time even though she felt sick. We have ward mission leaders finding people for us to teach. It's incredible.

This is the Lord's work! I know it is true. I know that as we ask specifically for the answers we seek, Heavenly Father will be specific with us. He loves you. He wants to pour out blessings upon you. Ask for His help, and He will run to give it.

I love you all. Thank you for your prayers and support. It has meant so much, especially the past few weeks. There is strengthening power in prayer. Keep smiling and look for those miracles!

Sister Holbrook

Our district! Elders Siebert, Perkis, Bishop, Smith, Sisters Sammartano, Armstrong, Soelberg, Cox, Stratton, and me :)

Exchanges with Sister Fluegel. Love that girl. We were trying to get the horse in the picture, too, but epically failed. Oh well. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Week 71: Yearnings and Diligence

Migraines are basically the worst things ever.
I love Chik-Fil-A peppermint shakes.
Missionary variety shows are the greatest inventions ever.

Alma 57 talks about how the army of Helaman was doing everything they could to prepare to go to battle to take back one of the cities they had lost to their enemy. Amazingly, while they were preparing, the people in that city just left and the city fell back to the army of Helaman.

If we will do everything within our power, Heavenly Father will pour out blessings upon us. Often times they can be pretty big ones that just fall into our laps.

On Wednesday we got a text from a Bishop asking about a baptism in his ward the coming Saturday. After many texts and phone calls, we found out about Andy, a sixteen year old kid who lives in our area who's been taught by the Elders in a neighboring stake. He will be baptized this coming Saturday!

Sister Soelberg and I have been working and praying to be able to see miracles in this stake, and we have. Every single day. It has been amazing to see the fulfillment of the promise in my favorite scripture, Doctrine & Covenants 123:17:

"Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power. And then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for His arm to be revealed."

As we work and pray our hardest for those yearnings of our heart, we see miracles. I know that is true. 

I love my mission for the clarity of an eternal perspective. Everything makes sense. Of course we should pray and read our scriptures. Of course we need to go to the temple. Of course baptism is important. Of course we should open our mouths to share our testimonies with others. I am so grateful to have this time where the distractions of reality can fade to the outside for a bit. To focus on the things that matter most is something I will forever treasure. I hope that perspective can stay with me for the rest of my life, that the distractions and clouds of Satan won't bind me down.

I love serving the Lord. I love being in this mission. I love being a missionary! I love opening my mouth. I love teaching. I love acting on the Spirit. I love being with these people and feeling Heavenly Father's love for them. This is a time I will forever treasure. I am so grateful Heavenly Father has let me stick around on earth at least long enough to have served His children during this time.

I just want to share Alma 29:9 in closing.

I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy.

I love you all! Remember to smile :) Thank you so much for your prayers, letters, and general awesomeness. I have the best people in the world surrounding me. Thank you for being those people!

Sister Holbrook

In the ER getting a CT scan to check for blood clots - btw it came back clear :)

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!! Our ward mission leader brought us the cutest cookies ever :)

AMAZING THINGS. Hopefully you can follow the chart. That's been the topic of every meeting for the last 2-3 months: faith, obedience, and diligence (notice the emphasis on yearnings)

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Week 70: New mission president and responding

Mom asked a bunch of questions and since I only have a few random things to share, I'm going to respond to those questions at this time.

 Any interesting people in those lessons to tell us about?  Are they all to less-active or new members or who?
Well, they all are interesting. Most of them are to less-active members. We have one couple who was married in September and they want to work towards going to the temple! They are amazing. Then we have a bunch of newer people that we're teaching in the Bountiful stake. One family, the mom is so excited to be coming back to church! She invited us over last week when her kids were blessed. That was such a sweet experience. We have a government-subsidized housing complex where we're working with a bunch of less-actives. That's always an adventure. We have a few new investigators this week, and one solid girl who is so excited about learning about the gospel!

How are the new members doing - the 2 young women and the one boy?
Amazing. The boy is teaching us the new member lessons, and his mom is starting to be more involved which is amazing! The young women are so good. They made us cookies during the last lesson. Their mom has been so touched by the Spirit the past several visits. 

Do you ever dance around aimlessly for exercise (Nathan's question)?
Um.... possibly... :)

How do you train the sisters? Do you get inspired about what they need and have a class with them or is it all done during splits in an informal 
kind of experience? How many splits do you do each week?
So splits are with active members in our area, but we do exchanges with each companionship of Sisters. We have one or two exchanges each week. That's usually when we talk about struggles and how we can continue to improve. We meet with them all pretty regularly and talk to them via phone almost daily. We do receive a lot of revelation on what will best help the Sisters, and we work a lot with the zone leaders in deciding the direction we want our zone to go in. We use district and zone meetings as our priority training meetings with exchanges and other visits as secondary opportunities for training.
We are on splits with members multiple times per day. We have too many people to see

Sleep - how many hours of quality sleep do you get per night?  (Nathan says quality sleep begins before midnight)
Um probably 60 minutes... since we go to bed at 10:30 and I still take forever to fall asleep.

We liked the pic of your district - when do you have those meetings? 
Every Thursday at 1:30pm. Zone meetings are every first Thursday.

Who always drives the car? 
Usually me. If we're on exchanges or if Sister Soelberg wants to get to know the area better then she'll drive.

Since you are over 2 stakes, do you have 2 correlation meetings per week?  
Yep! Every Sunday at 6:45 am and every Wednesday from 7-9pm.

Is the 1st counselor who is currently taking over for Pres Hansen a local man - anything about him? 
Not sure. He might live in Salt Lake? We're currently on hold for the new mission president coming at the end of the month. President Hansen is still our acting mission president.

You must get time on the computer to do family history and to find the links you send to us.... Is that all on P-Day or do you have other times you get to do things like that?
Typically we get paper copies for trainings or for personal study. Then I just find the link on to send it to you.

Our sister missionaries are always showing videos on their ipads.  Do you ever show videos and know all the great ones that are out there - do you just borrow the computer of the people you are with or how do you do that?  In my day, we used to bring a filmstrip projector and find a spot on their blue walls - it gave a cool background:)
YES! We love the videos that are out there. We just ask for an iPad or computer to show a video on. We typically use the Because of Him and Origin videos. We also use them for dinner appointments, lessons, youth events, and trainings with missionaries.

We will be getting a new mission president! 
President and Sister Spendlove are from Texas, have five kids, two of whom are 16 and 13 years old. Sister Spendlove grew up in Beaverton which is pretty fantastic. They should be coming at the end of the month. 

I have been treasuring every moment we have with President Hansen. I love being able to go to all the extra leadership meetings where he continues to teach and encourage all of us. He gave us incredible training on the spirit world this past week, and the power of living righteously in order to have our covenants sealed in heaven as well as on earth.

Desire leads us to action, but as our desires grow into stronger yearnings of our soul, that will lead us to diligently act for the rest of our lives.

I love you all! Keep on smiling. Life is good. The gospel is true!

Sister Holbrook

Me, Sister Soelberg, and then our zone leaders with President Hansen! Love that man.
Also I don't have any other pictures... working on it.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Week 69: Family History, are you doing it?

From Renee - 
I have been worried about how Lauren is doing after losing Sis Hansen. 
She says “I'm ok. Promise. The peace has been incredible. The gospel is true! Through and through.  It's just amazing how the Lord gives us exactly what we need. The hardest part will be saying goodbye to both President and Sister Hansen. But all will work out. It really will and I really believe that.“
Then some other cute things she included in a note to me:
We had almost 40 lessons this week:)  We had a baptism postponed this week. Yup. 
I heard about the snow this morning by a nice lady at Target! My mission has scarred me from ever going to Walmart ever again by choice. You should be proud :) 
It is totally crazy how time flies. All these kids have been saying they're 14 and 18 and I'm like wait... that's how old my siblings are. Weird. I'll send Megan a bday note today! 
Thank you for teaching me organization - we're working on that with Sister Soelberg :) 
Actually, I figured out yours and dad's secret to life success: you're expert planners. It's that simple. I love you too :) You're just the cutest :)

Lauren's email
Lots of coordinating emails today, so I'm just going to share a brief testimony and procedural information about family history work!

Family history is what we do when we are researching the information and stories of our ancestors. It has the power to link us together, to bring us closer together, and to invite the Spirit into our homes even more strongly than before. Most people are interested in talking about families. As we focus on the family, the Lord will help us find even more people who are prepared to receive the restored gospel.

Temple work is made possible through the Priesthood, the power and authority of God on the earth given to man to bless His children. We research our ancestors, find their stories, learn of their struggles, all so that we can help them have the opportunity to choose to accept the gospel. We take the names we find to the temple, so that acting as proxy, we can perform the ordinances for them to ultimately go to the celestial kingdom and to be eternal families.

That is the power of family history. It opens hearts, strengthens bonds, and invites the Spirit to testify of the truth of the restoration of the gospel!

Some resources to check out once you're on
  • Pandora's Hope Chest - available through Google Chrome, allows you to easily find those people who are ready to have their names taken to the temple or those who need more information.
  • - you can view the descendancy easily to see where work needs to be done
  • - View where your ancestry comes from and see who else is from those areas
Challenge for this week: Get on familysearch and feel of the power that comes as you work on finding your ancestors. I know that the Spirit will touch your heart. The joy of the gospel will fill your heart! You will gain a better understanding of what it means for us to be eternal families. Our Heavenly Father's plan will take on new meaning. 

What an amazing gift from our Heavenly Father.

I love you all! The gospel is true! Miracles happen! Our Savior, Jesus Christ, lives and loves us. He will always help us. As we live worthy, the Spirit will lead and guide us in every aspect of our daily lives. As we follow those promptings, we will always know that we are doing what God needs us to do.

Sister Holbrook
This is an amazing talk by President Hinckley about the importance of our role as members in sharing the gospel.

PICTURES!! Your favorite part :)

Our fantastic district: Sisters Goormastic, Sammartano, me, and Soelberg. Elders Isufaj, Brown, Chang, Siebert, Clark, and Bishop.

Making Pho (Vietnamese soup) with the Pham's, Sharp's, and Bradley's! Best dinner ever.