Monday, July 25, 2011

I can see you want some details!

Ahoj, Everyone!

This was such a wonderful week of missionary work! I think I'm starting to turn into one. Mom and Dad, I've been getting your emails. I get everyone's emails every Monday, so thank you Grandma and Grandpa and Andrea and Abby and everyone else that emails! I've been getting your Dear Elders and any other mail every time I'm in Prague at the mission home, which I've been there often, and I'm going again this Sunday, so yes, I'm getting your mail. Thank you! The best way to contact me is through email. I can print them out. However, letters are super exciting too, so whatever you like. Sorry, I don't have a personal address other than the mission home. The mission home is best.

By the way, Andrea - that's so awesome that David's sister is going to Bulgaria! I know the sister in the MTC right now that is going to Bulgaria as well. Wish her luck. Tell her to facebook Emily Schroeder (a really good friend of mine that goes to BYU) - she served in Bulgaria as well (in fact she might be there right now..), and she's incredible.

Ok, I can see you want some details.. let me tell you exactly what's going on, ha. We are still a tripanionship. This is Sister Glaus' last week, and we will be taking her up to Prague on Sunday afternoon. She flies out Monday. Super sad - we're goin to miss her, and a I know a lot of people here in Ceske Budjeovice as well. She's been here for I think 7 months or so. Then, it will be a companionship with sister Andersen and I. There will still be the 3 elders in the area, but one (Elder Darrington) heads home in a few weeks. Thus, we're losing bodies, so we'll need to kick it up a notch! However, I'm excited. I've been learning so much and getting so much more comfortable with everything - I feel like Heavenly Father's blessed me with such incredible companions and such a unique area in which to learn and grow so rapidly.

How do we get around? Here in Ceske Budjeovice it's not too large, so we walk most everywhere. We rarely take buses more than 5 or so minutes long. It's really great. I love it. We still haven't done huge amounts of contacting (I mean big blocks of time) since we usually have at least a few lessons throughout the day. And as far as tracting - we've done it twice, I think, for an hour or so, but that's a pretty rare thing here. I'm not sure if that will rise in the winter as people aren't outside as much. We'll see! It's fun to tract. Czech people answer by sticking their head out the window, and we yell up to them "Good day! We're here as volunteer missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ! We have a beautiful message about (FILL IN THE BLANK)." Ha! Tracting makes me laugh, especially since it's pretty common for Czechs to not really wear clothes when they're at home. If someone answers the door and they're not wearing pants - don't worry, it's just a Czech thing. If someone's flat out breastfeeding at a bus stop - no big deal.

Well, let's see. Stories from the week. I've become a contacting machine! Well, I've made a lot of progress at least, ha. I've been bus contacting, street contacting, every sort of contacting. It's wonderful! I love talking to people. We've had more time to contact this week (since we've had a lot of canceled lessons, unfortunately), and we've been able to teach a bunch of lessons on the street. I think street lessons are my favorite so far. We're always teaching people principles (about prayer, the restoration, anything else), but in order to count it as a lesson, it must involve a prayer. Earlier this week, Sister Glaus and I were walking up and down this park, contacting anyone who entered it, as Sister Andersen sat on a bench and made some calls. One man in particular was a super neat experience. I don't think I've felt the spirit in my whole 2 and a half week mission as strong as I did in that contact, with that man. He was a believer (In the Czech, people define themselves very simply as a believer or not a believer - it's super interesting, and it can mean a lot of things when you dig deeper into their beliefs). I started teaching him about the Restoration. I went through the whole lesson and quoted the First Vision. When I started telling him of the most important moment in this dispensation (!!), he listened and watched me very intently. I felt the spirit pour over the three of us. It was so beautiful. I wish I could feel that all the time. I wish that man could feel that all the time. After that, we asked if we could pray together, and so we did. Prayers on the street with Czech strangers are the best! Ahh! Unfortunately, we found out that he didn't live there. He lived an hour away, and he was only in the city to bring a hearing aid to his grandfather who's hearing aid had quit working. Ha! I got a kick out of that.

It's incredible to teach so many different people. Each one is so different. Each one. Everybody learns differently, the Spirit works differently with every personality and every heart. Every day I'm surprised by people. Some will pray right there with you right after you teach them how to pray for the first time in their life. Some people's hearts are stopped up with a bit of pride and perhaps a desire to disprove rather than sincerely seek. Some are just humblingly humble - they've had no experience with God or faith, and they just soak it in, nod their head, and embrace the "new horizon" they see rising before them. I love people. I love what we're doing here.

This weekend we have two baptisms in Ceske Budjeovice! One is an investigator of the elders. He's a sweet older man who just makes me so, so happy each time I see him. He's already been doing family history work and is going to the temple in Germany next month with a bus full of members from the Czech Republic who are making a trip out (super cool!). The other is an investigator of ours. He is the one I wrote about last week. He's so solid. He studies for hours each day - I wish I could just talk about scripture with him. He just eats, drinks, and breathes the scriptures, and it's one of my favorite things to hear his new insights and share what I've found as well. He is actually Roma, and lives in a building out a ways, with bunches of families of Roma people. He's quite a phenomenon for his building, as it's not usual for a Roma to accept God like he is, and to enter into something so hmm.. structured or mainstream or like something that you commit to. I'm not sure how to describe it. All the research I did on the Roma in school last year is coming back to me. But anyway, it's going to be an incredible week! Two new members in Ceske Budjeovice! The Church is true and it's growing each day! The Atonement is real and we must use it! Mom, good luck on your lesson - perhaps you can take a look at the Book of Mormon chapter in Preach My Gospel. We testify each day that the Book of Mormon answers the questions of the soul.

I love you all! I'll be sending pictures next week hopefully!

S laskou,
Sestra Brimhall

Saturday, July 23, 2011

I'm glad it strengthened his faith.

Whoo! Hello, Family!

Goodness, I don't even know what to tell you. I've just completed my first full week as a missionary! It feels like I've been here a lifetime. I spent about 10 minutes in church on Sunday, thinking about whether I really did just get here last week. I couldn't believe it. So much has happened, and it's been just the most incredible time. I've seen so many miracles this week, family.

Last Wednesday we headed up to Prague again because my whole MTC district of greenies had to go to the foreign police to do stuff for our visas, and all the trainers had trainer training. It was so much fun to see all of them again! They're all doing so well! This mission is packed full of the most astounding missionaries - all of our trainers are just unbelievable. Prague was just the best day - our visa stuff didn't take very long, and so all the missionaries who weren't in training got together and went out in the middle of the city to do go "whiteboarding." I dont' know if I"ll ever do this again on my mission. They only do it in the two biggest cities - Prague and Brno. Essentially, we put up a whiteboard with words and pictures about Christ on it, etc., and then we get in a big group and sing songs about faith and Christ. We had about 20 something missionaries that day, so it was quite a scene! Once we began, I decided to just start contacting right away. I knew that if I got in that group, I would get too nervous, and I would stay. So, I started talking to people. Phew, missionary work can be scary sometimes, haha. But I loved the atmosphere that Prague brings - it's so fast paced, so busy, and so BIG. Everything is big and crazy. As I went around talking to people, I had the most incredible contacting experiences I've had yet. I talked to 3 different people (among many others who waved me off) for a really long time. I taught the restoration, I taught about faith, about the Book of Mormon. I can't understand a thing they say back, but somehow it still works! As I testified to one lady, the group of missionaries hit a swell in the song, and I felt the spirit so strongly. I could see that she felt it too.

In the Dallas airport on the way here, Elder Heath said that he wished there was just some beam of light over people's heads so we could see who was ready to receive this message, or who was searching. I felt like that happened that day. There were so many of us, and we sang so powerfully. I would sing a little bit, and watch very carefully, and whenever someone slowed, or looked up for even a second, I could see something was there. Perhaps they felt the Spirit, or perhaps their heart was just slightly ajar - enough to take in the peace that emanated from those 20-something missionaries. I would then b-line it to those individuals and share our message. There we were, young, professionally-dressed missionaries, singing songs of praise in this "Godless city" of Prague. I gained a lot of strength from that day.

The rest of the week was pretty frustrating, I must say. Being bold is a struggle. Talking to people on buses, trams, while we're walking somewhere is something I've been struggling with. It really gets to me - it's so easy to envision yourself as that missionary who will blow through a city, talking to everyone, never letting anyone pass by. It's different when you walk out your door, you see a Czech person, and you have no Czech in your head that you could possibly say to them. I'm a-workin' on it. I'm going to be a contacting machine! Just you wait. I love talking to people, I love doing this. The Czech will come.

Oh, I don't have much more time, but I have to tell you about one investigator! I won't be putting names in here, since this goes up on a blog. But this man is absolutely incredible. We're not sure if we'll be swinging his baptism this week or the next, but we've struggled so much to help him gain a testimony of the restoration and the concept of "One Lord, one faith, one baptism." But oh, family, what miracles I've seen this week! This man has faith like I've never seen before! Since other things weren't working, we sought to let the spirit guide us in our lessons this week, and let the spirit teach him instead. It worked. One day I will tell you the full story of this man's journey to faith, but for now I'll tell you that I'm so grateful I've been able to witness these things in my first few days. On Sunday we had a particularly beautiful lesson with him. I got to watch, right before my eyes, him gaining a testimony of Jospeh Smith and restored authority. At another point in the lesson, as we spoke about baptism, he mentioned that he had seen my face in a "vision," before, about 3 years ago, and then I came in last week and he recognized me. He said he took it as a sign that he as in the right place. I didn't really understand what was going on, as I don't understand much in Czech ha, but that's kind of cool, huh? I don't know. I'm glad it strengthened his faith.

Have to go! Off to see some castles today!
Love you!
Sister Brimhall

Monday, July 11, 2011

Ceske Budejovic

Dobry den!

By the way, I forgot to mention on Wednesday that you can email me all you want now. I have an hour to email now and so I'd love to hear from all through email! I can only email family back, but I'll try to respond through letters (although so far it seems like there's little time for that here - I all the sudden am amazed at every letter I ever got from a missionary, ha).

How are you all?! Danny, I hope you're liking the internship. I bet Michael's having a fantastic time in London. Abby, I LOVED your last letter in the MTC. It made me so happy to hear about everything! How is that missionary experience going? When I read about what you did, I thought to myself "My sister would be the best missionary." You are so bold already! They had to teach us that in the MTC. Because of you, I've decided to be bolder. This is the gospel, after all! We are believers and see the blessings of it every day. Let's tell everyone, eh? I've thought about Lauren every day - I wonder how she's doing in the MTC. The first week can be a little crazy. She sent me her info, but I lost it. Abby, can you forward me her contact info (and her farewell talk if you still have it in an email). Mom, I don't know if she decided to send out an email to friends, but if she did, will you forward that to me for the rest of my mission? Thank you! Oh, and I don't know if Sister Folsom still reads these, but if she does, can she forward me Siostra Folsom's emails, please?! I'm anxious to hear how she's doing.

Ok well, here we are in a library in Ceske Budejovice. My first P-day in the field. Missionary work is just about the coolest thing ever, I think. What do we do all day? We go into people's houses, sit down with them, talk about their spirits, their thoughts, their lives. We pull out the scriptures. We testify. We bear witness as representatives of God that He sent His Son, and that we don't have to do everything alone. We have a Savior, Jesus Christ, who suffered for our sins, our pains, our sicknesses, our sorrows. He understands, he loves us, his Atonement is more real than we very often realize. We contact random people on the street and we get to hear their stories and play a small part in their lives, even if only for a moment. We haven't had much time to contact so far, as these sister missionaries I'm serving with have really done their work. We have 4 progressing investigators, 1 with a baptismal date, and 2 we're hoping to set up dates with soon. We have so many less actives or recent converts that we're working with. Our week is already full of meetings with new people we contacted just this weekend. I can hardly keep up, and it's magnificent. This area is really moving as far as interest and new investigators. The other day a couple lessons fell through, and so we did our first real block of contacting for only about an hour and a half. Ha! I laugh thinking about it. I contacted a handful of people on my own and handful of others with one of my companions. With 3 we really get around! It was just the most interesting and exhilarating experience. EVERY person was radically different. One man particularly stood out. I went up to speak to him, and while my understanding is quite low at this point, we spoke for a while. He was having, it looked like, an extremely hard day. He was very drunk, so he was a bit out of it, but I could tell that without that influence, he was a decent, normal man. I just didn't know what to do. You could see so much suffering in his face. He wanted to let it out, but he wasn't sure if giving it to a young girl, wearing a name tag, was the right place to put it. I felt myself come out of the typical contact we deliver and I told him that I knew this message would help him. I plead with him to give it a chance. He teetered, but unfortunately I think he was just too sad and drunk to really commit to anything. I saw him later that day in the grocery store. I hope I run into him again.

Ah, yes, yesterday we had church! I had met a couple of the members before as we teach with them often, and we had FHE on Friday night for those without families. However, I was excited to meet some more, and excited to see how many of our investigators and less actives would show up. We really pounded on church attendance in our lessons last week. Fortunately, two investigators showed up! However, there were many that did not - mainly less active members. There are some less actives we work with that are in the most dire situations. You just wish they would grab hold of the gospel. I know Heavenly Father makes it up. I know the Atonement can fill in the gaps. Often, Heavenly Father requires much of us on this earth, and often when you receive that promise that the gaps will be filled, and then you don't see it for a very long time, it's difficult to endure and keep going, right? The blessing could be just around the corner, but for all you know and all you can see, it could be hundreds of miles away. Faith is so key. How can we endure without it?

Anyway, wow, the branch, I love them so much already. The struggle in this area is definitely keeping the branch functional and alive. While there is much interest and we are teaching a lot, the branch struggles to keep itself together. My companions have done loads and loads of work to keep it even in existence. We have incredible people here in this area who care so much, and I know they are called to keep the church alive in Ceske Budejovice. How grateful I am for their willingness.

Well, I should go. So much to tell! I'm happy! So happy. I'm studying my face off to learn Czech. I couldn't see quite as clearly in the MTC what I was learning that language for, but now that I'm here, I can't stop eating it up. Understanding is a big challenge. I don't think the frustration has caught up to me yet, but I'm sure it will. I'm studying as fast as I can to try and soften that blow, ha. But all is well and I'm really loving it here. I didn't think I would ever love the work as much as I do! But I do. Whoo! I'll try to attach pictures from a little vylet (outing) we went on today.

S laskou,
Sestra Lucy Brimhall

A picture of the namesti (city center) of Ceske Budejovice. We pass through it multiple times a day, and I think much contacting will occur there.

Picture in the namesti in Trebon. The elders in my district are Elder Darrington (going home in 5ish weeks), Elder Schindler (District Leader and trainer of an Elder in my MTC group - Elder Heath). They're hilarious! I'm excited to serve around them.

Outside a kostel in Trebon, the little city we traveled to today. It's about half an hour away from Ceske Budejovice.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

First few days in Prague! and new Czech address.

President and Sister Irwin, Sister Brimhall, Sister Anderson and Sister Glaus, my new tripanionship! I will be serving in the city of Ceske Budejovice.

Sister Emily Bean (left) & Sister Mary White (right) - My companions in the MTC. We have become so close!


Církev Ježíše Krista Svatých Posledních Dnů
Sister Lucy Brimhall
Milady Horákové 85/95
170 00 Praha 7 - Holešovice
Czech Republic - Europe

Hi! I know you weren't expecting until Monday, but apparently transfer days turn into Pdays. Anyway, yes, I am in the Czech Republic. I don't have much time as we have to head to a lesson soon, but here are the fantastic, juicy details of the first couple days!

I got my trainer/"Mom" - Sister Andersen from Kaysville, Utah. However, I joined a companionship and made it a tripanionship as our other companion, Sister Glaus from Florida, is finishing her mission in the middle of the transfer (3 weeks from now). They are just great! I feel bad because jet lag and the crazy schedule of this week has caused me to be a little out of it for a while. Hopefully I can get out of this shell shock before long. However, it's been the greatest experience so far and the rest of today should prove to be too. Last night we took a train to the area in which I will "born" - Ceske Budejovice. It's absolutely beautiful! Never have I seen a place that is so aesthetically pleasing. Prague blew my mind as well! The rumors are true. I can barely take it all in though, because I've got 1 and a half million other things on my mind as I walk the streets. Anyway, when we arrived in the city, we dropped off my suitcases and then we had 3 lessons lined up before the night was done. Our last one fell through, but the first one was with a lady. She was baptized 2 weeks ago, but is having and extremely difficult time as she's had a very rough life, including having a daughter die a couple years ago. My companions have said to me over and over again, and I've only caught glimpses of it so far, that there is a lot of suffering in this city. They don't see this kind of suffering in any other area really, and they just don't know why people suffer so much here. I'm not quite sure exactly what that means yet.

Anyway, we went to teach her. She definitely hesitated to open up to me as I was new and shell shocked and she was just not feeling very well or having a good day. It was very surreal to be sitting in a small, Czech apartment, in my first lesson as a real missionary. I wasn't that nervous, to be honest. I haven't been that nervous at all yet, except for this afternoon (we have 5 lessons back to back today with all new people). But with her, we talked a lot about faith and enduring to the end. She hasn't been coming to church because of various reasons, and so we talked about that as well. The sisters gave me a chance to speak at the end and bear my testimony. I was prepared to bear my testimony about Christ, as they asked me too. However, I wasn't expecting to understand the entire lesson, which I did, and to be able to follow how she was feeling, and what she needed. So, when they asked me to speak, Czech flowed out, and I felt the spirit so strongly. I added to the lesson, refered back to the things we talked about pertaining to faith and church, and I told her what I felt. I could see her light. I could see her faith. I knew that because she decided to be baptized, her Heavenly Father was very happy. The spirit was there, family. I don't know how that happened, but it did. It was such a powerful moment for me, and I think and hope it was for her as well. My companions and I walked out at the end and Sister Andersen said "You little zazrak!" I don't know if I'm a zazrak (miracle), but a miracle did happen in that room for me.

The next lesson was with a woman who was very in and out with her investigating. We were lucky to have this lesson with her yesterday. Her name is N, and she is from the Ukraine. She moved to the Czech 13 years ago. Oh, she was so great. She was such a sharp lady, very kind, and you could tell very thoughtful and desirous to follow all things good. She is Catholic and has a daughter. We taught her about the Book of Mormon. I was able to add my testimony of how the Book of Mormon helps me at different points in the lesson. The Czech didn't flow as well, but I still was quite shocked at my ability to use grammar concepts and words I learned just last week in the MTC. That's what happens when someone's salvation is on the line, I suppose. N was surprisingly accepting. It looked like she felt really good and remembered the way she felt with the missionaries before. She committed to read and pray about the Book of Mormon with her daughter every day. We extended the committment, she smiled, and she said yes. Oh gosh, I hope she keeps feeling that goodness, that spirit. Sister Glaus found her a long time ago, and kept talking about how amazing she is. I could see it very quickly.

Last night I felt very encouraged. I will say, though, that today has been pretty darn overwhelming so far. The problem is - I feel very comfortable in a lesson setting, and pretty okay in a contacting setting because of the new curriculum at the MTC; however, I didn't realize that I would need to learn how to live in the Czech as well. Finances, transportation, food, figuring out the city. I just don't want to deal with it. All I want to do is be a missionary right now and teach people. I'm sure all things will fall into place quick enough, but it's just overwhelming to have to think about so many things at once, and to feel so lost, but to also be trying to keep the spirit with me so I can help these investigators today who are struggling so much! Oy. It will work out. I think once jet lag wears off, things will look a little brighter. I'm also excited to teach so much this afternoon, because even though it should be a bit scary, I know that each time I sit down in a lesson with someone, I feel like that is where I was always meant to be. I love teaching. I love feeling people's spirits. I had that experience in the MTC as well - I would feel so nervous outside the door, but once I sat down, the spirit reminded me in full force that teaching might be one of my spiritual gifts. It fills my soul, and God has really helped me to develop that gift of discernment over the last couple months. I'm so grateful for that. I know it will be something I rely on for the whole of my mission.

Ok, well, we're off to teach S! My part of the lesson is to talk about something I've been thinking about for a while - the story of Peter walking on the water. S has a baptismal date on July 23rd. We're fasting for him currently because he's really struggling.

Say a prayer!
Love you!
Sestra Brimhall

Czech Prague Mission
5 July 2011

Brother and Sister Brimhall:
Sister Lucy Brimhall has arrived safely in Prague with a smile on her face! We are sending a picture of her and President and Sister Irwin. She will be taken on a tour near the Mission Home and then finally allowed to sleep. She shall be a sleepy sister missionary! This will speedily allow her to acclimatize to our time zone.
Tomorrow Sister Brimhall shall meet her Trainer and begin loving the people of the Czech Republic. We are glad she is finally here. We shall take good care of her and the Lord will watch over and protect her.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us.
Warm Regards,
Sister Diane Bohne
Czech Prague Mission Office

In the London Airport on July 5th! My district of 12, 3 sisters and 9 elders. My parents flight out of London was at the same time as our change of planes to Prague. We saw each other at security!