Monday, January 26, 2015

Week 68: No Empty Chairs

My mind is in a million places right now.

Big announcements this week. 

First off, we found out that our mission will be getting iPads in the next two months!

Secondly, Dylan was baptized on Saturday!! And he invited all of his non-member and less-active friends. He's basically the best missionary ever.

The power of covenants.

Thursday morning our zone leaders were calling and texting us telling us to call them as soon as possible. I'll never forget standing in the laundry room next to Sister Soelberg with our zone leader telling us that Sister Hansen, our mission president's wife (also known as our mission mom), had passed away Wednesday night. 

I burst into tears immediately. We knelt and prayed. Then we opened our companionship study by singing Sister Hansen's favorite hymn, "Behold, A Royal Army." You can just picture her up there telling us to get to work, to be better, to drink some Gatorade, to polish our shoes, and to give everything over to the Lord. Words can't express how much I love Sister Hansen. 

That was probably the most shocking news I had ever received. But I'm ok. We're all ok. The peace that has been present is most definitely due to all of your prayers. Thank you. Those have strengthened me and others more than you know. 

The following several days have been interesting, controlled chaos, but also a converting experience.
Logistical details: We will be getting a new mission president. The first counselor in our mission presidency is currently taking over until that point.
Beyond that, we have transfers tomorrow and the work carries on.

We had a special memorial service on Saturday specifically for the Hansen family and the missionaries. That was a powerful, sacred meeting that I will always treasure. The funeral today was also powerful, but I won't go into details on that. There are other thoughts to share.

I love President and Sister Hansen. They have become my second parents. They are disciples of Jesus Christ through and through. They have consecrated everything to the Lord. Everything. Their total trust in God leaves them to fear no man. They always do His will. They always seek to teach through example and every interaction with them. I will miss them more than I can possibly express.

But there is great comfort in the gospel. President Hansen held up his and Sister Hansen's temple sealing certificate. That is the power of covenants. Only once did we see that man cry this week. He has been smiling, holding up all those around him, and reminding us of the power of living the gospel in our lives. He and Sister Hansen have been sealed for time and all eternity. That is possible because of the Priesthood power restored to the earth through the prophet Joseph Smith. That is the authority Christ gave to His apostles, and it is the same authority that leads the Church today. They will be together for eternity not only because of that covenant with God, but because of how they lived their covenants daily. They both give everything they can to Heavenly Father every single day.

At the end of the funeral today, Elder Oaks turned to the missionaries in the back - all 220 of us - and said with great power, "GO and do thou likewise."

This has been a refining six weeks. I know the Lord strengthens, magnifies, and comforts us in all things. Everything truly is possible with His help. I have given everything I possibly could this transfer. I'm exhausted and incredibly motivated. I love these people more than I ever thought possible. I hope I can be half the woman Sister Hansen is. The Hansen's have shown me the power of an eternal family. They taught us how to live, and Sister Hansen went right ahead to show us how to die. They taught me how to truly rely on the Lord in everything. And that is the power of eternal covenants.

I know we will live again. I know that is only possible because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He lives! And if we will live our lives according to the promises we have made and will yet make with our Heavenly Father, we can live with Him again. I know we will see all of our loved ones again. I know I can give Sister Hansen a big hug again one day and tell her how grateful I am for her influence on my life.

I have just one invitation to each of you.
I could not have made it through these past weeks without a testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Without knowing that He will strengthen me. 
Get on your knees.
Ask Him.
He is there. He is watching and waiting to comfort and to bless. 
He loves you. 
The Spirit will touch your heart if you will ask with a sincere desire to know if these things are true.
I know it's true. And I invite each of you to come to know that, too.

Sister Hansen always talked about having no empty chairs in heaven. When we all sit down together in heaven, let there be no empty chairs because one of us didn't act as we should have or do what we knew we should. Let us do all in our power to fill every single chair at the table of our Heavenly Father. There will be no empty chairs in the celestial kingdom as we all strive to do our very best to be ready to return to Him at any moment.

I love you all. Remember to smile! Miracles happen every single day! Prayers are powerful. Covenants are powerful. But the greatest power comes from our Savior, Jesus Christ, and our Heavenly Father and Their love for us. I love this gospel. I love this work. I know that as we give our very best, there will be no empty chairs.

Sister Holbrook

With Sister Hansen near the beginning of her mission. Here is the article about her death 

President and Sister Hansen at our last Christmas party :) Aren't they just the cutest?!

Dylan's baptism!!! I love these people with all my heart.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Week 67: Small and Simple Things

I am grateful for chips and guacamole.
And mini chocolate cadbury eggs.

Today, I just want to bear my testimony of a few principles:

We had a training by Elder Kacher of the Seventy on Tuesday. He talked about the role of faith in our lives. Faith is our trust in God. Obedience allows God to trust us. It's a cycle of trust that we influence completely. He also talked about one specific aspect of faith: mindset. 

We get our mission calls or assignments to callings, whatever it is, and immediately have preconceived notions. Salt Lake City is full of members, we'll never baptize. You'll freeze in North Dakota. You get the idea? That affects our mindset. Faith requires that we overcome that mindset of man and put our trust in the mindset of God. God's mindset says that our mission can double baptisms. God's mindset says that there are people prepared to receive the gospel in all parts of the world. That's what we need to start believing in and acting on.

How can we change our mindset? What miracles will we see if we switched a little more to God's mindset?

The worth of a soul.
We had a great talk by Sister Bourne in Stake Conference about this, and then we were asked to talk about the same subject in sacrament meeting right after. 

I know we are of infinite worth to our Heavenly Father. He loves us. He has done everything possible for us to live with Him again. I love the phrase in Preach My Gospel "do everything within your power." As we come to realize our own potential and worth, we gain a stronger testimony of the worth of each one we meet. CS Lewis said, "It is something to live in a society of potential gods and goddesses... No one you have ever met is a mere mortal." or something to that effect

When we realize just how important we are to Heavenly Father, we want to be sure others feel of that same worth. We stop putting single-word labels on complex children of God. We stop turning people away. We stop distancing ourselves from situations we think we already know. Instead, we seek to love, to give generously, and to lift, serve, and strengthen.

What will you do this week to let another know of their eternal worth?

The Lord knows us personally.
Thursday night we went on splits, and we just had an hour of miracles. 
We found a man who hadn't been to church in years who had prayed three days before we came and talked with him. He was just sitting outside on his motorcycle and we felt to go talk to him. He offered a prayer and the three of us were just in tears as he poured his heart out to God. He knew this was an answer to his prayer. 
We got to talk to our investigator's mom about her own baptism and Word of Wisdom struggles finally. She wants to be in the temple with her family one day. Her daughter is being baptized next Saturday. I just love that family.
We met a less-active woman who wants to work towards the temple since her daughter is being sealed in the Salt Lake temple in June. 
It was incredible. The Lord knew that I needed to know His Spirit was still working through me. He knew I needed to go be the answer to a prayer that night.

I know He is aware of our needs and the needs of all those around us.
Will we go out and be an answer to someone's prayer?

Favorite quote of the week: The gospel is the best part of me.
How true that is.

I love this gospel! I know Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. I know this is the true gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth today. I know that by living it, we will become closer to and more like our Heavenly Father every single day. I know He loves us. I know our Savior understands all that we experience. He will support us in everything.

Remember to smile and expect miracles!

Sister Holbrook

Alma 48:11-18 How can we be an example to others? How can we develop these qualities in ourselves?

Correlation in the Centerville South stake! I love our ward mission leaders. These are some of the best men this world has ever seen.

Me and Kaidence - an eight-year-old girl from Farmington who has had 2 heart transplants! She is my new hero. And she wants to go on a mission :) And we're having a sleepover in the summer haha. It was so fun to meet her and her family!

Sister Soelberg and I color coordinated on Sunday. Precious :)

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Week 66: I don't know about you, but I'm feeling 22

First off, thanks for all the birthday wishes and birthday packages! I am so far behind on letters and thank you notes - sorry about that. Know that it has all been so appreciated.
There are so many things that happened this week, I don't even know where to begin.

Typical P-day events of running errands, then Zone activity at a member's home, then splits all night to cover our appointments. 

Mission leadership council meeting started at 7am with Elder Arnold of the Seventy. Thoughts from that:
  • God asks Adam in the garden of Eden "Where art thou?" (Genesis 3:9). In Moses 4:15, the wording is changed to say, "Where goest thou?" The Lord asks Adam these questions to give Adam an opportunity to account for his actions. What will we saw about where we are and where we are going?
  • Do everything in your power to help, lift, love, achieve, serve, etc.
  • Go out and be the answer to someone's prayer.
  • Every family has a bullseye target on them from Satan. We must do all in our power to help build multigenerational families of faith.
  • Obedience = joy. True story.
  • Motivated by covenants is a sign of true conversion.
  • Revelation comes when you're on the move. If that's what you want, then there's always help from above. The happy ones care more about the people than themselves. Connect then convert. -Gift of Tongues training videos
The rest of our day was followed by appointments, splits to help out some Sisters, and lots of phone calls.

The day I turned 22! Man, I'm old. 
As Sister Allen said, "Oh you're right! I can see the wrinkles!" Love that woman.
Other quote of the day: "Birthdays are weird. Don't congratulate me, congratulate my mom." -Sister Dickson
Accountability interviews with the zone leaders and President Hansen. I love that man.
Lunch with the Allen's!
Lots of appointments at our retirement/disability branch. Gotta love it.
Correlation meetings!
My companion made the cutest birthday card EVER. And the other Sisters decorated our apartment with sticky notes and got peppermint ice cream!! 
Best birthday ever :)

Best zone meetings ever. We're pumping some enthusiasm into this place!
Appointments all day and night and on splits and had a lunch and correlation and just a bit of typical craziness.
Woman calls because she saw the video my sisters made and wants to take us out to lunch. Her daughter has had 2 heart transplants and wants to serve a mission :) #happyheart
Started exchanges with the Spanish Sisters.

Sister Soelberg got food poisoning so we came to rescue her, but then Sister W had some weird heart things, so we left Sister Soelberg at home sleeping and took Sister W to the hospital. More craziness ensues the rest of the day.
Sister Bill and Sister LeSueur came up from Provo to take me out to lunch!!!! BEST DAY EVER. Where it all began in the heart of Bountiful: Nielsen's.
Awesome lesson about prayer with one of our less-active members. 
Last minute interviews with President Hansen.
Slightly distracted lesson with Ashley who's getting baptized on January 31st! 

Housing inspections, Sister Soelberg still has some stomach issues, took care of an emergency transfer, had a couple of lessons, went to dinner where their sister who hasn't been to church in years was present and we had a fantastic lesson with her!
Stake Conference was incredible. Always seek to be the person who will do everything possible to change someone's eternity.
Doctrine & Covenants 88. Incredible section about light, teaching, learning, the temple, and just about everything else.
The FOUR KEYS to sharing the gospel as taught by Elder Peter F. Evans of the Seventy:
  1. Love is something you DO. 
  2. The answer will come through the Spirit, but you've got to go. Act on promptings.
  3. Pray with faith, meaning you're willing to go forth and act.
  4. Never ever give up on these people. How long would you keep trying for your own family?
Young Women's lesson, four ward councils, taught a Young Men's lesson, went to part of sacrament meeting, almost got lost on our way to stake conference but President Hansen gave us directions, had an amazing Stake Conference (testimonies of Joseph Smith, tarry in the temple, the hastening on the work is real, the family is where the gospel must be taught, we choose what comes into our family), the Pham's taught us about the Word of Wisdom, lots of contacts, and rounded out the evening with some paperwork.

Left at 7am to take another Sister to meet with President and then to the airport. She's headed home early for medical reasons. So hard to say goodbye. She is an incredible missionary! BUT we did see a mass migration of about 50 missionaries come in from the MTC :) Baby missionaries! Then picked up Sister Weber to come to our zone! And we're finally emailing.

I know that God supports us in all that we do. He magnifies our capabilities beyond what we ever thought possible. I have seen that every moment of every single day this week. There is no way I could have done this on my own. He lifts, guides, strengthens, and comforts us as we continually give our best. I know He loves us. I know our Savior lives! I know this is His work. As we choose to come unto Him, the greatest joy will fill our hearts and minds and homes.

I love you all! Remember to smile! Miracles happen every day!

Sister Holbrook

The Patterns of Light video series is a great training by Elder Bednar in helping us to learn how we can recognize the Spirit in our lives.

Happy Birthday to me!! Sister Jolley brought me a cake, the Sisters got me cupcakes and ice cream. It was quite the celebration :)

At the hospital with Hermana W. Oh the adventures.

Goodbye Sister Tipton!! We love you! Me, Sister Tipton, Sister Cox, Sister Soelberg.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Week 65: Bronchitis

This week I got bronchitis. hooray.
BUT thanks to modern medicine I'm cured! 
It was interesting week due to having to stay in for most of it.
BUT we still saw miracles!
And my amazing companion just went out and contacted everyone like a boss.

In preparation for my email today, I thought I would do a little "grateful for" list.

Things I'm grateful for as of 5 January 2014:
  • We received a letter that the temple is now cancelling all ward and stake assignments for youth to go to the temple together. Instead, they are encouraging youth to find their own family names to bring and for families to come together to perform the ordinances for those ancestors. I am so grateful for the emphasis the Church is placing on families going to the temple together because that's what this gospel is all about - families being together forever!
  • A small child went up to the pulpit to bear his testimony yesterday. He started by saying, "I'd like to bear my testimony like I did last month because no one else is coming up." It was adorable! And a powerful reminder that if we have a testimony, we must share it in order for it to grow.
  • One of the priests was blessing the sacrament and didn't say the prayer exactly. The Bishop asked him to do it again. I am grateful for those moments because we pay more careful attention to the words and the sacredness of the ordinance of the sacrament.
  • I love the eternal perspective of always seeking to bring souls to Christ, even if it is just one soul. In Alma 45 and in Moroni 10, even though these two prophets know their people will be destroyed, they do all in their power to share the gospel in the hopes that even one person will come to Christ. I am grateful for their example of giving everything they could for helping "the one" return to live with Heavenly Father.
  • We are sleeping over with some other Sisters due to some health problems, so it's been a little crazy having our clothes and life in two different homes. This has forced me to be more organized and focus on what I really need. 
  • We had two Young Women be on splits with us yesterday from 8:30am until 4:00pm so we could cover as many wards as possible. I am extremely grateful for Young Women and older women who have a desire to serve the Lord. There are so many here who will drop literally everything to help us out in our work. 
I love this gospel! I love our Savior! I know He lives! This is His gospel! We can live together as families for eternity as we keep our covenants. I know the Book of Mormon is true! I know this is God's plan for us to experience true joy now and forever.

I love you all! Don't freeze, remember to smile, and continue to #SharetheGift!

Sister Holbrook

The new youth theme is "Embark." This is a powerful video and song as an introduction to how we can serve more fully in all that we do.

Alma 46:11-21 If we will pour out our whole souls to God and follow the guidance that He gives, others will come running to make the same covenants we have made! 

We helped a lady with her groceries on Monday, and then she asked us to take the cart back for her. That was a thrilling cart ride :)

Sister Shrock came to visit at P-day activity!! Also, I have the best shirt ever :)