Tuesday, May 24, 2011

This week was just out of control fun.

Dear Family,

This week was just out of control fun. I was laughing every other minute of every day. I must have drastically underestimated how hilarious spending 2/3 of my day with 9 19-year-old boys would be. The sisters and I marvel every day at how they can be so endlessly entertaining.

Well, the MTC is turning into life. Our district is turning into a little family, and the time is just flying by. Every day is an adventure as we learn more Czech and strive to become better teachers and missionaries. I'm really, really loving it all. It's still quite intimidating when I let myself think about how large this language is and how little I know about the scriptures, and that I've already completed 1/3 of my stay here at the MTC. However, there are several moments in every day when I feel the Lord telling me that it will all work out, and as long as I keep striving, I will be ready.
We had great experiences teaching this week. We're finding that it's quite difficult to teach with three people, in a different language, when you're trying to follow the spirit and customize the lesson on the fly! However, I wouldn't trade this threesome for anything. I can't imagine going through this without Sestra Bean or Sestra White. We're making huge progress in teaching even from day to day. The are the most magnificent companions. I had a cool experience in TRC this Thursday again. I had been working really hard on preparing my parts in Czech for teaching the restoration lesson. Part of that included telling the JS story. So, I made it a goal to memorize the first vision in Czech. It got a little crazy for a few days there - any time my mind wasn't on something else, you would see me muttering to myself "spatril. jsem sloup svetla..." over and over and over again. There weren't as many volunteers this week, so for one of our lessons we taught our teacher, Bratr Machado. When it came time to quote Joseph's words, I felt the spirit drop into my lap, and the words came out. One day, and many days, I will be quoting that vision to people who will be hearing it for the first time. It is so beautiful and so incredible! The gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored in these latter days! Joseph Smith was a prophet called of God!

Other great parts of this week- our district has become so close. We do everything together. I think if it was just the three of us sisters, we would drive ourselves insane by studying so much. The elders keep us balanced, ha. They've developed a little song in Czech about the 'seetry' that they sing. I can't really translate it in a way that would convey how hilarious it is.

I also had a super good Sabbath this week. Relief Society is especially great here. We had a phenomenal speaker come - Sis. Doxey from the RS general board.. She spoke about the grand and powerful nature of Relief Society. It is a marvelous, magnificent sisterhood. It made me remember a lot of tender moments I've had in Relief Society this last year, but it mostly made me think about, Mom, and what a loving example you've been to me. I thought when I went off to college that I was finally 'doing it on my own.' But that wasn't true. I always had my Mom and Dad to turn to. I could always counsel with you when I didn't feel very strong or independent anymore. Here, it's a little different. I often yearn to counsel with you both - to tell you what's happening, what I'm feeling, and ask what you think I should do. I just want to tell you how grateful I am for the wisdom, and love, and counsel you've given me over the last 21 years. When I feel confused and stretched and a little lost sometimes, I'm learning to turn wholly to my Heavenly Father and His Son. You taught me how to do that. Thanks, Mom and Dad. Not being able to talk with the people I love is definitely a little sad sometimes, but I can't believe the effect it's had on my prayers. The people I think and worry about, I plead with Heavenly Father and He promises to take care of them as my mind and my work must be somewhere else right now. We are very much workikng together these days. Whenever something comes up, I pray and ask, "Ok Father, what should we do?" I feel Him very near.

Want to know something else cool? Since I've been here 3 weeks now, I've seen multiple groups of missionaries I arrived with, leave already. On my first day here, the MTC welcomed about 27 missionaries from Japan who would receive training and then return to their country to serve. These 20 something missionaries sang a farewell musical number in our special Sunday night fireside. Oh, wow. I felt like I was transported to some magical place. I'll never forget that moment. Those missionaries are going to work miracles!

Ah, there's definitely many momments of the day when all I'm thinking is "Am I going to choose between the tater tot casserole or the thing over there that looks more like food?" However, there are many special moments that set the tone for this whole experience. I'll never forget the moment I stood up to hug friends after I opened my mission call, and I saw a vision of myself walking on the streets of Prague. Tears started to come as I saw that brief view of a companion next to me, Prague in front of me, my missionary shoes beneath me, and a Book of Mormon in my hands. I'm so excited. My teachers will probably tell you I'm a little too excited. However, I can hardly wait to walk in His shoes, to spread His love,and to gather His sheep. As I sat in the temple last week with my companions, doing sealings for the first time, I felt His love for each one of us. The gospel is true and it is His. I know that with all of my heart.


The Sisters! The only sisters in our entire zone, and we all live in the same room.

My whole district! All 12 of us off to the Czech! The elders are a bunch of goofballs, they make my companions and I crack up everyday.

First Day!! Sestra Bean (right) from upstate New York. Sestra White (left) from Jupiter, Florida.

Sestra Lethco (left)-going to Croatia.
Sestra Folsom (right)-going to Poland.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Week Two

Family! I love you so much! One tip - please don't email me at the MTC, I have basically no time on the computer and would like to spend it all trying to write you! Dear Elder is better, or letters.

Anyway, this week has been incredible! I'm learning at such a rapid pace, and I really feel the Czech coming. I'm so far from being able to communicate how I'd like, but I can teach many of the first principles we teach investigators and I can testify my heart out in Czech. Being in this pilot program, I've already lost count of how many lessons my companions and I have taught in Czech. We has our last meeting with our 1st investigator (Jakub) last week, and it was overall an extremely frustrating experience. However, as we taught this investigator over the last week and a half, we grew immensely as missionaries and as teachers. We were able to testify with meekness and great humility (you don't have a choice when you know how little you know!) and he finally committed to baptism. It's all a contrived situation with one of our teachers, but honestly, it's an incredible experience for us as missionaries, and for them as they are playing the role of someone they actually taught on their mission. We also had TRC this week! This is where volunteers come and missionaries are able to teach lessons they've been preparing all week (for us, we're pretty much teaching every day, so the TRC is just another lesson, but with real people, playing themselves). They've changed the TRC so that it's no longer scripted. People come and we teach them as they are, no matter if they are members or not. We had about 20 minutes warning about what we were going to be doing at TRC this last Thursday as they were rearranging some things, and so all we knew was that we were going to teach 2 20-minute lessons according to the needs of those we were going to meet! We were all so, so nervous, but so excited! Rarely have I felt so much emotion coursing through my body as I did that day. The whole district was reeling. We showed up and were walking through the hall to get the run down from our teacher, and we started hearing people saying Czech words.. starsi (elders), sestry (sisters)... we freaked out! There were so many volunteers for the Czech missionaries! A ton! Including 3 native Czechs who were here visiting! It was such an incredible experience. My companions and I ended up teaching several return missionaries, about 80% in Czech. 1 week in the MTC, and here we were, sharing the gospel with people and discussing what it means to all of us. I couldn't believe it. I felt like I was walking on clouds afterwards - I'm so grateful to be here, and so grateful for how apparent God's hand is in this work and in my progress as a missionary. The best part about TRC was when we had just finished one of our lessons and one of the Czech ladies came up to us, beaming, and said, "Sister missionary! The best! The best!" She spoke little English, but she helped me feel the love of each member in the Czech Republic. I couldn't go to sleep that night as I was thinking about the members, and how I just can't wait to meet them, speak with them, learn from them, and love and help them. I love being a missionary. Being at the MTC, I get up before 6 everyday (trying to cram in more of the mounds of things I need to learn), we spend about 6 hours in class each day, half an hour for each meal, 1 hour of personal study, about 2 hours of extra language study, comp study, more language study, district meetings, devotionals, zone meetings, contacting practice... it's so busy. I barely have any time, no - I have no time to think about anything but what is in front of me and what I need to learn next. One of the most frustrating parts of the MTC is that there is so much to learn and so much to do, but you have about 10% of the time you need to do it. Siostra Folsom and I tell each other every night how much we wish we didn't have to sleep or eat, but alas, we are merely mortals! And thus, the Lord is with us to help us do it all, for we cannot do it alone. I'm doing well. I love it here. Every day is a rollercoaster, but I can't even fathom doing anything else but this. This is gospel is amazing. The more I learn, the more I realize I don't know. However, I know what is important - I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior and that He died for me and performed that great Atonement that is so precious to me and to every child of God. I love you all!

Sestra Lucy Brimhall

Sunday, May 15, 2011

First Letter!

Ah! Family!
I have been so looking forward to this! Let me tell you something. This is a magical place. How can I have seen so many miracles already? How can I feel as though I've been to the ends of the earth and back? It's been such a journey since I left you on the sidewalk of the MTC. By the end of the first day, we were already teaching mock investigators, and learning what it means to teach people, and not lessons. That has by far been my favorite part of the experience so far - studying with a purpose, studying how I can be an instrument in the hands of the Lord in helping and inviting others to come unto him and receive his gospel. The gospel in the context of the needs of people is an incredible, beautiful thing. For the first three days here I literally could not sleep at night, my mind was racing with Czech and straining to figure out how we could best help our new investigator. My adrenaline was so high all I could do was smile and say "I'm so excited!" I would pray at night that Heavenly Father would calm my mind and let me sleep so I could get to the next day and be a missionary some more! That nametag - it is the most wonderful thing. I'm already dreading the day I'll have to remove it. Ah, by the way, when I got to my room on the first day, I found out I was rooming with Siostra Susan Folsom! One of my closest friends I went to Romania with. We are in a room with me, my two companions (Sestra bean from upstate NY and Sestra White from Jupiter, FL), Sestra Lethco from Provo who will be serving in Croatia, and Sestra Folsom will be serving in Poland! Our expected departure date from the MTC is July 4 (Lauren, I wish it was 3 days later!). It is a tender mercy from the Lord that I am with Siostra Folsom. She is such a light and has been such a strength to me. Also, she's a marathoner and a triathlete, so we work out together. Perhaps I'll be running the Boston marathon with you, Mom, by the time I come home. Other news - I am in a pilot district. This means that we are trying out new language curriculum that focuses much more on teaching. In other words, usually you will not begin teaching until about 3-4 weeks into your stay at the MTC, but for the 12 missionaries in my district that are going to the Czech, we received an investigator named Jakub (our teacher acting as a 17-year-old Czech teenager) on our second day in the MTC, taught him about his Savior and his loving Heavenly Father on the 3rd day at the MTC, about the restoration on the 4th day, and we will be teaching him how to pray tomorrow! This was all done in Czech, mind you! Can you believe it? It has been a miraculous thing to see. Yesterday I had one of the coolest experiences here - one of my teachers, Brother Machado, taught us a 3 minute version of the lesson on the restoration. He started into it with no preface and went all the way through the lesson, quoting the first vision, and ending with a powerful testimony. When he began, I scooted to the edge of my seat and strained to understand as much as I could. Family, I understood a large portion of it! I could follow what he was saying almost the entire way through! Sestra Bean and I had spent some time studying the first vision the other day, and so when he began quoting JSH... I can't describe it... I felt the spirit so strong. Brother Machado finished and asked us what he said. As a district we could tell him everything. He told us we had just seen a miracle. This was the gift of tongues, and Heavenly Father was blessing his missionaries so that we can go forth and help the people in the Czech who are lost and searching. These last few days have been a rollercoaster. Dad, you were right. This is nothing like I thought it would be. No matter how many friends I talked to, or how much advice I got, it could not prepare me for what I have experienced. For the first three days, I couldn't stop smiling. I was and am thrilled to be here and to do this work. But it's an interesting thing what your mind does when you choose to do something that is very optional, and then you find out that thing is incredibly hard and incredibly uncomfortable. Satan works very hard on the Lord's missionaries. I've seen it with myself, with my companions, and with my elders. He does not want us to do this. He does not want us to keep going, because there is too much power in what we are learning and the testimonies we will be sharing. When Satan fills your mind with those thoughts, you have to constantly remind yourself what your anchor is. Why am I here? Why am I going to stay put and keep forging ahead? It is because I love my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I love him with all of my heart. This gospel fills my soul with joy. I must share it. I must do it for my Heavenly Father who loves me and loves all of His children. We must bring them back! There is no greater work than this.
I love you all so much. Thank you for helping me be here. I cannot tell you what joy I've felt.
S laskou,
Sestra Lucy Brimhall

A big smile ready to head off and serve! 

See ya in 18 months!