Monday, October 31, 2011

Postcard and Looking for a family!

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I thought I'd send you a postacard I found that really shows where I am. This is Ceske Budejovice! This is my city. Here is the namesti - the city center where everything happens. Isn't it stunning? I happened to start my mission off in the most beautiful part of the country, I hear. We've gone on a few day trips on our p-days to cities nearby, and everything is just picture perfect here in the southern part of the country. I love it so much here - I can't wait to take you around if you end up coming out. Everything you hear about the Czech Reublic is true. It's like a fairytale.

I love this postcard because it already means so much to me. Right on those benches I've already contacted so many people and taught several lessons. Just last week on that bench on the far right, I taught someone how to pray for the first time in their life. I don't know how many times a day we teach people about prayer. There are so many Czechs who have never made that connection with God. They are often completely unaware of their relationship with Him. He is our loving Heavenly Father, and we are His children. It's the most wonderful thing when you find one of those elect that's searching and when you can help them begin that journey of coming to know their Father in Heaven. I feel very blessed to be here and to be a part of these peoples lives.
Love, Sestra Lucy Brimhall

My dear friends and family,

The Church is true. The Book of Mormon can bring us so much peace and inspiration if we take the time to read it's words. God exists. He loves us. Jesus Christ is our Savior. Not only did he enable us to return to our Heavenly Father and find great joy and peace after this life, but he can give us indescribable peace in our lives today. Today! Even in this very moment. I know that is truth.

Let me tell you a story. We had training in Prague a week or so ago when our Zone Leaders talked about having vision, but then setting goals to reach that vision. What good is a vision if we have no plan to make it real? They challenged us to set a goal for our specific areas, according to what we thought we most needed. As Sister White and I sat there as a companionship this week, we talked about what we should focus on. There I was, my usual self, spouting out all sorts of things, saying we could do this or that, or help him, organize that, or maybe just do all of it?? Sometimes I get a little carried away.. I stopped talking, looked at Sister White, and said, "Do you have any thoughts?" She said, "Yes. Let's find a family." Immediately, the Spirit absolutely engulfed that room. I knew it was exactly what we needed to work for. We decided to make a profile of who we would find. It would be a family with both a husband and a wife, who had young children, and a stable presence in Ceske Budejovice. They would have interest to learn, and TIME for us to teach them.

Almost every day of the week we scheduled in big blocks of tracting in two neighborhoods on the edge of the city so that we could find this family. On Wednesday night, we went out tracting in this BEAUTIFUL area. It's up in the hills, surrounded by forest, and just breathtaking. We started knocking doors and ringing doorbells, telling people who we were and asking if they had time or interest to learn. It was such an iconic scene. There we were, in a Czech neighborhood, stomping through the mud with the rain pouring down and our umbrellas out, talking to people through speakers, or yelling up to people through their windows. "Dobry den! Jsme tady jako dobrovolne misionarky..." I couldn't believe I was really doing it. It was such an adventure.

Most people had no interest, but then we tracted one house where a woman popped out, I said our opening line, and she said she was sorry but the had a visit from their grandmother, but could we come back another day, maybe in the morning? Maybe tomorrow? We said, "Of course!" She ran out with an umbrella and gave us her business card. I just about fell over in gratitude, haha.

We had no idea who she was, but we called later that night and set up for the next morning. When we walked back up that hill and rang the doorbell, out popped a man holding his young daughter. He had a big smile on his face, and he said, "Come on in!" Sister White and I just laughed the whole way up the driveway. It was perfect! They were such a beautiful family. We taught them about the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ and gave them a Book of Mormon. They aren't believers and it was all very new for them, but they invited us back the next week and said they would begin reading the Book of Mormon.

I'm getting kicked off the computer now, but I just want to tell you that the Lord knows what he is doing. He has great purpose for each one of us, and he wants us to seek him, so that he can take us even higher. I know the Lord can work miracles if we put our sweat and our hearts into it. For those who feel down, or who feel without purpose, look to the Lord and know that he sees, he understands, and he is only waiting for you to take his hand. There is no reason that we should feel down for long periods of time, when we know exactly how to find great joy in this life. We have our Savior, Jesus Christ, and we have a loving Heavenly Father. Rely on them. They love you.

I love you.

Sestra Lucy Brimhall

Monday, October 24, 2011

To serve the Lord and do what he knows he needs to do... in the end, it is what right.

Dear Family,

Wow, I always wondered how I would feel when Sammy passed away. He was just our pet, but he's been with us for 2/3 of my life. I'm almost glad I wasn't there, so I didn't have to see him like that. I still remember the day I opened that birthday gift and there was a leash and a collar wrapped inside. I think Abby screamed and I just smiled really big. I was so excited. Oh wow, it brings tears to my eyes to think about him.

Well, it was another wonderful week. It was absolutely full - I just got back from my second trip to Prague in the same week. We had specialized training on Friday, and so we went up Thursday night and came back that afternoon. Sister White and I and the rest of those we came out with then had to renew our visas early this morning so we traveled back up on Sunday night, and just got back (Monday evening). Having your preparation day taken up by waiting in the police office is pretty draining when you have so much work to do in your own area, ha. However, I'm excited to press on after this email and get working. We have so much to do in this area and we've set some amazing goals for the week in an effort to find priesthood and families for our branch. The Lord needs miracles to happen here, and he can only give them to us if we work hard, pray hard and align our wills with his. Keep praying for us!

I have some pretty special news for you all this week. If you remember my farewell talk, I spoke about a young man I met during my internship in Romania. He came from a difficult upbringing and a life very caught up in the world. He met the missionaries one day, and his journey to baptism was tough, but his journey after baptism was even tougher. He gave everything up so that he could follow Heavenly Father's commandments and live a worthy life. He really struggled for that year after his baptism. However, while I was there last summer, he received the priesthood, began participating in priesthood ordinances, and started filling out his mission papers, even though his family was quite unsupportive. He's now been out 11 months in the Spain Madrid mission. I wrote him a letter about a month ago, and got the most wonderful letter from him this week. Oh wow, it is going to motivate my entire mission. He is doing so, very well. He's currently training a new missionary, and I could tell from the way he spoke about his investigators, that he is working hard to bring people closer to Christ and help people find the path. He spoke about how difficult it's been for him to serve his mission, with no support from home, and with no information about how his family is doing and with no way to help them if they don't have the necessities of life. He writes them every week, but has only received a couple discouraging letters back. He wrote to me, however, that even though things look dire, and even though it appears he's given up everything (including his family) to serve the Lord and do what he knows he needs to do... in the end, it is what is right. And the Lord will bless him "one hundred fold." It brought tears to my eyes over and over again this week to think about where this young man came from, the transformation he is undergoing now, and what an influence he will be on the church in the future in a country that is struggling so much. He sends his thanks to the family for all your love, support, and prayers. May we all remember what a glorious thing the gospel is! It changes lives. I see it every day.

I don't have much time today, but I love you all so, very much.
Think of a way you can better be a representative of Christ this week!
Sestra Lucy Brimhall

Monday, October 17, 2011

Thanks for your letters!

My Wonderful Family and Friends,

Thank you for your letters. Joy spreads across my face in this little Czech library when I see so much good news in my inbox. I'm so happy to hear you're happy.

This week was another wonderful week of missionary work. Time is passing so quickly, I can hardly believe it. The cold weather is coming (evidenced by the newly acquired pack of Kleenex in my coat pocket), and it's reminded me that life still goes on back home and even here. I feel like I'm in a different world sometimes as all I do is the work of the Lord from 6:30 AM to 10:30 PM (Maybe the hours in between as well, as all I dream about is my investigators too, haha). It's a wonderful life. I'm thoroughly enjoying every moment.

We worked hard this week. I feel like my head is down and I'm just plowing forward. One day, somewhere in the future, someone will tap me on the shoulder and tell me it's time to go home and do something else. I'm starting to realize what a shocker that day will be. There's so much lifting to do with investigators, members, less actives, and people on the street. There's also a lot of lifting to do together as companions. Sister White and I are still quite "new," and we're still learning loads every day. We've been working incredibly hard on improving our teaching skills and our Czech. We've been making huge strides! It's a lot of fun to be together and just get to figure things out with the guidance fo the Spirit. I love it.

I don't think I've told you about a young investigator we have who's still in high school. He's super cool, and knew close to nothing about faith before we met him. We were contacting a few weeks ago, out in a park on a day that was super muddy because of rain the night before. As Sister White and I were dodging a puddle, he dodged it on the other side. I decided to get over how potentially awkward a dodge-a-puddle-and-say-"Prosim vas"-contact would be. We ended up talking to him across this puddle until we realized this young man had real interest, and we brought out our Book of Mormon to show him. We ended up teaching him the Restoration right there, and since that day we've been teaching him everything from who is God to how we can return to Him through saving ordinances like baptism. He's been reading in the Book of Mormon every day, for at least a few minutes, even though scriptures are often quite hard for non-believers to grasp. He's been feeling the fruits of the spirit as he's started praying every morning and every night. Family and Friends, God answers prayers. Tell every one you know!

This week we also had a real Relief Society activity in Ceske Budejovice! There were a handful of us in the building and we had refreshments Sister White and I picked up that morning. Then, we watched the RS conference session in Czech. I didn't get much out of it, ha, but a member friend in Prague is going to get us the English so we can listen to it too. This branch is step by step getting stronger. We've been working hard as a district to get our building looking more like a chapel, and getting callings for everyone so that we can function how the Lord would have us function. We do a lot of work with members, teaching them the basic doctrines and commandments again, teaching them how to teach, how to plan talks, how to lead music, how to conduct a meeting. They're growing, and it makes me so happy to see our branch become a little more independent week by week.

I'm super, duper happy. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to be here. I love how much we're able to study. I love that we get to do this work full time, every day. I love, love, love talking to people. Contacting on the street is starting to become one of my most favorite things we do. Though the language will be a struggle my entire mission, I love the language too. (Two of my favorite things in life: grammar and puzzles. Czech grammar is like a giant puzzle - Whoo!)

I know the Church is true. I know God is there. I know Jesus Christ is His Son. I know Jesus Christ is my Savior.

I love you all!

S laskou,
Sestra Lucy Brimhall

Monday, October 10, 2011

I Love My Family

Thank you family and friends for every one of your emails. I absolutely love to hear from you! Father, I'm so glad you and Mom got away for a while. I can't wait to hear about the trip. Abby, thank you for your emails last week! I loved that you sent on your schedule so I could see exactly what you're doing. I'm so glad you're loving it! Michael looks like a man in those pictures, ha. He wil always be "Baby Brother" in my phone though. How is Danny doing these days?

This week was just wonderful. We were able to listen to conference! Wasn't it just a gold mine? On Saturday and Sunday we listened to all the sessions - the missionaries watched it on a little TV in the kitchen in English, while the members watched it in the chapel in Czech. Oh wow, it was like a box of See's candy to hear all those talks and draw inspiration for each one of our investigators. I wanted to share a few thoughts I had with you.

I'm sure you remember Elder Callister's talk about the Savior and the Book of Mormon. You should have seen our district as we watched that talk. We were gasping and chuckling and writing vigorously. If only every Czech citizen could hear that talk. Jesus Christ is our Savior - either he is the Son of God, or he is a madman or something even worse. A great moral teacher? He did not leave that option open for us. Test the Book of Mormon. Does it draw you closer to God? It is either written by evil influence, full of dishonesty, or it is from God, translated by His prophet. There is no middle ground. This talk addressed much of what we address every day here. This is the kind of witness we are bearing. Wow, that talk will stay with missionaries in the Czech Republic for generations. We can't wait for the Liahona to come out.

Something else I loved was from Elder Eyring - his little sentence when he said, "We work hard with all of our might, and then... we press on." That is the whole of it. We WORK as saints in the Lord's church. We work hard, and then we keep going. We shouldn't feel discouraged, overwhelmed, or jilted because we think we should get a break. No. That's what we do as saints. We work with all of our hearts, and then... what else would we do, but press on with all of our hearts?

Sister Dalton's talk! Wasn't that beautiful? Dad, I wanted to thank you for all you did for me growing up. There was another talk directed towards parents rearing children, and I thought to myself - my parents used to be listening to this talk as young parents. Now they are listening to it and their children are almost all the way out. I felt impressed to tell you that you've done so well. I hope you know that. You reared your children in righteousness, and I thank Heavnely Father every day for the upbringing I had and the knowledge I've been blessed with. I remember one night specifically, in high school, when I sat in your bedroom, and I lifted my hands in the air and said, "Why can't you just trust me?" I remember your response, Dad. You said that you couldn't. You were there to protect me. You couldn't just let me go, for that was your stewardship - to make sure that I was protected, safe, and that I would make it through trials and temptations, keeping my testimony and the spirit of the Lord. Thank you for doing that. I add my witness to Sister Dalton's that Fathers must do that for their children. "Go and get her!" I loved that.

This week was beautiful in the way that I felt the Spirit work through Sister White and I in a very undeniable way. There were a couple instances during lessons when the Spirit left very abruptly because of contention and some pride. I wasn't quite sure what to do - how to bring that Spirit back. I wanted to shut the lesson down and try again on another day. However, I felt the rush of the Spirit in a very real way, and words started coming out of my mouth. Not knowing what word would immediately folllow, the words lined themselves up one by one, and the Spirit spoke through Sister White and I - powerfully, with love. My district and I were talking after conference this weekend about how we can feel the prayers of our family, the temple workers, the leaders of the church. I wanted to tell you that I feel them. There's been a distinct difference on my mission. I literally feel something carrying me throughout the days - this wave of support that begins with my family and friends. Thank you, thank you for your prayers. They are here with us!

Time is up, but I absolutely love you! Tonight we have a meeting with a group of people who are very much struggling. They unfortunately experience a great deal of discrimination, and they have many questions about why God allows such inequality, such tragedy, such suffering. I ask for your prayers! Sister White and I have been called to help them find the way, and find some answers. They need to feel the love of their Savior, and the redeeming power of his Atonement. Pray that they will!

I'll answer questions next week! For those who I haven't written yet, the letters will come! I promise. Andrea - congratulations on the baby! I'm so, so happy for you! Michelle Alejandra Rubio-Leiva, I love you a lot.

Love you, family!
Sestra Lucy Brimhall

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I learned this week the value there is in simple testimony.

Dearest Family and Friends! Thank you for your emails!

Wow. I love missionary work. I realized this week that it is truly a position on the front lines, where people will hate you and curse you for what you believe, but it is also right there where "water turns to steam," and people form bonds with their Eternal Father in Heaven and their loving Brother and Savior, Jesus Christ. What a privilege I've been given to see the work of the Lord! With floor seats! I absolutely love it.

What can I tell you about this week? It was full of learning, and as always, deep sorrow and exceedingly great joy. After I pray each night, I try to write something down that the Lord has taught me that day, or that I haven't learned yet, and He wants me to learn. Every day this week I wrote down something about the pure love of Christ. That is what must drive a missionary, as well as every disciple of Christ. I knew that I would love people a lot here on my mission - I didn't quite know how it would feel, but I'm feeling it now, and it's really beautiful. As a greenie, you sort of feel like the investigator is there, but your trainer stands in between. Thus, you can't quite feel that love as tangibly. Now, it's Sister White and I and we're right smack in the front. There's no one to buffer. I can't tell you how much I love these people! You become so much a part of their lives, and they become so much a part of your heart! You try to teach them, and they teach you even more, deepening your soul, broadening the volume of your heart. What a privilege it is to serve.

We had such interesting lessons this week. Early in the week, we met with a professor at the university here. Funny, eh? Mine and Sister White's Czech plus a professor who was already a believer and quite well-versed. Maybe I was nervous? Haha, to say the least, I felt a bit of stress during the lesson. When Czech rolls out in great amounts, and you're trying so hard to comprehend the gist, while also working well with your companion, and listening to the Spirit, and using the member you have with you, it's quite an adventure! However, I learned this week the value there is in simple testimony. In the end, Sister White and I bore our testimony about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. We testified that God desires for us to find truth. When we desire it as well, and when we put time in to read, ponder, and pray, we will be led to that truth. This man is going to read, and he's going to pray. That is what we do as missionaries. We are guides, but it's always up to the investigator or the person on the street, to act on the message and seek. When they do take that step, it's the most exhilarating thing to see the Spirit rush in and take them by the hand.

This week was sort of special in the way that we were faced with people who doubted us, discounted us, and downright insulted us. I learned, however, family, that with the power of the pure love of Christ, you can turn the deepest contempt into friendship, trust, and respect. The next time someone insults or offends you, remember how Christ treated his relationships. There is power in his love. It can soften the hardest hate, and replace darkness with light. I felt his love course through me this week as we dealth with some ugly situations. I'm so grateful that he is right there with us, guiding our steps, and filling our mouths. I love the Lord. I know Jesus Christ is our Savior.

Love you!
Sestra Lucy Brimhall