Monday, November 12, 2012

A family in Slovakia....

My Dear Family and Friends, A few weeks ago, Sister Izatt and I were contacting out in the city center, and I looked down an alleyway and said, "Sister Izatt, what's down there?" She didn't reply, because she whipped to the side and yelled, "Excuse me!" to a man that had just passed. I turned, knowing what she was up to, and we began to introduce ourselves as missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was a very sharp-looking man, a family man, a good, faithful Catholic. The contact was short, as he responded to our offer to visit very positively, and said, "Perhaps you can come over tomorrow! I think it would be good for the kids. I'll talk to my wife about it tonight." The next day we called, and they said that indeed, we could come over. The husband came to pick us up in his car, and we brought Sister Nye along with us. We found out quickly, as he spoke to Sister Nye, that the husband speaks flawless English and is a very, very educated man. He took us up to his home, which he built himself, passing the chapel his family attends, which he also helped build. When we walked in, we saw a family of 5 beautiful children, and his wife, who was just as beautiful. You could feel the Spirit of the Lord in that home - they were truly a family built on principles of the gospel. The father had us sit on the couch, and he pulled up chairs for his entire family to sit down. He introduced us to his children, saying, "Children, these are the Mormons. We don't know anything about them, and so we are going to listen to their message today so we can learn some more." They all sat reverently and willingly. (I was, at that time, praying my HEART out that the Spirit would come into our minds and our mouths, that we might teach the beautiful message of the restoration with the power and spirit that the message and the family deserves!) We began with prayer, and the lesson began. We taught them about God, about prophets, about the ministry of Jesus Christ. We spoke of the great apostasy, and the repercussions of that time of darkness. Sister Izatt beautifully told the story of Joseph Smith, and I told them about the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ. Sister Nye bore her testimony in English as the father translated for the family. The most special moment of the lesson was when the husband leaned back in his chair, so overwhelmed by what we had just told him. He said over and over again, "I've never heard anything about this..." His wife leaned over during another time in the lesson, and said, "I feel something," as she wiped a tear from her eyes. That lesson with that family was one of the most incredible, spiritual moments of my entire mission. I felt so privileged to be a part of it. We left them with a Book of Mormon, and the wife was espeically excited to read. We will be returning to their home again this Friday, to continue to share the message with this beautiful family. I'll tell you what happens, when I see you next :) I have now come to the end of my journey as a full-time missionary of the Lord. However, I find great joy in the fact that the work load does not go down when I return. I love working for the Lord! It is the greatest work, and He is the most wonderful leader, example, and counselor. I love all the spiritual adventures misssionary work has allowed me to have. I have learned how precious and fragile my testimony is on my mission. I have learned how to take care of it, and tend to it. I have learned that there are times where you can hit plateaus with your testimony. I have learned that the Lord will allow you to feel forsaken for periods of time, so that you may make the difficult decision of whether you will turn away, or continue to feel through the dark, so that you may reach Him again,and find that light switch. A lesson I am very grateful for: I have learned what a testimony is made of, and what it is not made of. I have learned that I DO have a testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I have learned that it has the ability to fade and sometimes disappear. I have learned that I can never take it for granted. I will work on it every day for the rest of my being, because I have learned what it truly means to ENDURE TO THE END as a true disciple of Jesus Christ. Love, Sestra Lucy Brimhall

Monday, November 5, 2012

Katarina

Dear Family and Friends, As our Relief Society president said yesterday during our small Relief Society gathering, "We are writing new history in Banska Bystrica!" This week was full of progress. One thing we spent some time on as missionaries and members was renovating and dejunking our church building. It was just full of junk and unused furniture. One day I expressed that we could be using all this stuff so much more effectively! That began a whirlwind of brainstorming with Sister Izatt and I, and by the end of the week, we had completely beautified and Mormonized our Banska Bystrica church building. We're quite proud of it. The other more important addition is our new member Sestra Katarina! The week leading up to her baptism went well. She accepted the final commandments well, including tithing, and she had her interview on Wednesday. By Wednesday she was ready! I always think the interview days are the best days, because went they come out of that meeting with the district leader, you know they have just born their testimony of the restored gospel to a representative of the Lord, and yet another one has joined the ranks of the Latter-day Saints. After that significant interview, comes the planning of the baptismal service and the actual ordinances themselves. We had the service at a hotel in the city, which has a nice indoor pool. It's not as great as having a font in our nice, clean church buildings, but it works alright. We had a whole GROUP of investigators show up! Many of them had never seen a baptism before. The service went well, and the talks by our members were wonderful. Elder Nye, the senior missionary, baptized her in Slovak! After the service, we all took a bus or cars back to the church building to have cakes and banana bread. Katarina and Sestra Dobiasova had made a beautiful set up beforehand and it was really pleasant. My favorite part about the whole experience is how close Katarina and Sestra Dobiasova are. We know she will be taken care of, and she feels like a part of our family here. I also heard Katarina talking to the Elders; investigator (who should be baptized in a couple weeks) about his concerns. He's not sure if he has the strength to keep the commandments, and he asked specifically about attending church every Sunday to keep the Sabbath day holy. "What if you have other errands and things you need to attend to at that time? What if things come up?" he asked. Katarina simply responded, "Those things will take care of themselves another way. We just need to come to church and keep the commandment." That is truth! The Lord provides a way when we keep the commandments He has given us. On Sunday Katarina was confirmed by one of the younger missionaries, and now she is a member of our branch!! This coming weekend we have district conference in Brno, so half of the Czech Republic and all of Slovakia will be traveling up there for church, and Katarina will be coming with us. I'm excited for her to be among so many saints, and to receive the strength and encouragement she needs to go forth, serve, and endure. We were very blessed this week with miracles and new investigators as well! The work is looking good, and we are happy. Last night was the first time I think that it really hit me how soon the end of my mission will be here. I knelt and prayed for a long time to my Heavenly Father, thanking him for what I have seen, and the people I have grown to love. As I knelt there, memories flooded my mind of Heavenly Father's little manifestations of love for His children. I know He knows each one of us, and I know He loves us. I love you, Sestra Lucy Brimhall

Monday, October 29, 2012

First snow on Slovakia - Zone & Branch Conference

Banska Bystrica
Dear Family and Friends, Yesterday we had our first snow in Banska Bystrica! This morning it looked like a winter wonderland by the time Sister Izatt and I finished with our studies. It all melted in a few hours, but we weren't super happy that the snow has already hit us. It's not the best weather for missionary work, haha. However, I love to see the leaves change, and the snow reminded me that the holidays are coming. There's no better time of year than holiday season! This week was just fantastic! We had zone conference on Wednesday in Brno, which required a sleepover with the sisters in Brno on Tuesday night, and a long ride back after training on Wednesday. It was just wonderful to see everyone, and the training was so inspiring. I, along with the handful of other missionaries that will be departing with me, were able to give our "departure" testimonies. I felt the spirit so strong as I bore testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and spoke of how my mission has truly impacted the kind of disciple I will be for the rest of my life. We also had branch conference in Banska on Sunday. President and Sister Irwin, as well as other district leaders came down to visit and speak. It was wonderful! We had 6 investigators at church, and organized a small lunch afterwards. I just LOVE Banska! Also, Katarina is so excited for her baptism, as well as everyone else. Couldn't ask for more! Love you! Sestra Lucy Brimhall

Banska Bystrica is seeing miracles!

Dear Family and Friends, I hope it was a wonderful week for all! We have had fantastic missionary weather over the last several days, and we're enjoying it as much as we can before the cold times come. Banska Bystrica is seeing miracles these days. After famines come blessings. I have been through enough famines on my mission and in life to know that that principle is true. I knew it would play out in this area - it's just that waiting time in the pits of the famine when it is difficult to keep pushing, ain't it? For the last several weeks we have been teaching a middle-aged woman named Katarina. Her progression in the gospel has brought me so much joy!! We met her at exactly the right time in her life. She has actually received a Book of Mormon from missionaries several years ago, but didn't really get into learning about the church. Now is her time, and she knows it. We met with her almost every day this last week, and she is making incredible progress! Our Relief Society president (Sestra Dobiasova) and her hit it off really well from the beginning, and so whenever we have a lesson, Sestra Dobiasova is there. They've gone to hang out many times, shopping for shoes, or going to a sweet shop. There's nothing better than having a member who can befriend your investigator, and help them overcome any concerns they may have. Katarina has become a part of our little family here in Banska Bystrica. Her baptism is scheduled to be on November 3rd, and she's doing so very well. We were worried she might have a problem with coffee, since she drinks it three times a day, off of a recommendation from her doctor. It's very common for doctors here and in the Czech Republic to recommend coffee when someone has bad blood pressure. However, we taught the Word of Wisdom this week, and she took it like a champ! She didn't complain once about it, and said that she had already been thinking about what she could replace coffee with, as Sestra Dobiasova had mentioned before that we don't drink coffee. She's a woman of great faith and incredible sensitivity. We are just thrilled to have her join our branch, as she will be a great support to our dear Sestra Dobiasova, who is currently running close to a one-man show. I had a short conversation with Katarina before one of our lessons this week, and I asked her what her feelings were about baptism. The Spirit just sort of settled around us, and she told me that she knew it would be like a new start, a beginning of a new life for her. She said a person has to have that conviction that it is right, and that is why she reads so diligently, and prays so much about the things we teach her. I felt the Spirit whisper to me that Katarina "got it." She understood the covenant she was about to make, and she was doing her work to commune with God, and receive his confirmation. We do so little as missionaries. We're kind of like the people behind the stage, who make sure the curtains are pulled, and the props are set, and all the actors go out at the right time. It is the Spirit that makes that play turn into something truly magical - something that can change a life. Know this, family and friends... the restored gospel of Jesus Christ has changed my life. It continues to shape me for the better each day. This is my testimony: the restored gospel of Jesus Christ can change every life. It brings deep peace, steadying strength, and profound understanding of God and self. From each of those things springs great joy. Every individual that gives time to studying the gospel and applying it's principles, will find themselves smiling more, loving more, and giving more thanks. I love the gospel of Jesus Christ. I love the restored Church of Jesus Christ. I know they are true. All my love, Sestra Lucy Brimhall

Monday, October 8, 2012

At the city square!

Dear Family and Friends, On Saturday afternoon, Sister Izatt and I were out in the city square, talking to everybody, while four weddings were going on in the surrounding churches and city halls. Every Saturday we get to see brides, and sometimes we talk to their wedding parties :) As we were walking, we stopped a young man and began contacting him in Slovak. He responded, "English?" "Why, yes, of course!" we said. "Where are you from?" "Lithuania," he responded. He's here to study for several months. He said he was a believer, and we began talking about what we do. His name, in English, is Paul. Paul taught me something very important that day. He told us that his sister was a believer in Jesus Christ, and so he decided to look into it when something very difficult had happened in his life. "I talked to a priest," he said, "and he helped me... Just 3-4 weeks ago, I decided to believe in Jesus Christ and now I am a believer!" We bore our testimonies of Christ, and the beauty of his decision. We bore our testimonies of our message, that centers on Him. Paul lives in Zvolen, and so we invited him to come to church with us in Zvolen on Sunday afternoon. Paul came. It was the missionaries, Paul, and two members at church yesterday. He just loved it. We had fast and testimony meeting, even though it was such a small audience. I got up, and I hope it didn't embarass him, but I bore my testimony about Paul. I told our members what he had told us on the street - that he has DECIDED to believe in Jesus Christ. I thought about that statement for the rest of the weekend, as I realized that that is exactly what faith is. Faith is a DECISION. Faith is hope in something we do not see. We cannot gain a testimony of that thing (of Jesus Christ) until we exercise a bit of faith. Paul's faith is quite new, and just budding. However, as he continues to learn of our Savior, that budding hope can turn into strong faith, and then into very powerful knowledge. Because he lives in Zvolen, we passed him onto the Elders. They just love him. I'm so excited to see his progress in the gospel. It was a good week. We are still searching for the prepared, and trying to hold onto to those who have hit trials of their faith. I just love missionary work. It is full of adventures. I haven't been sick my entire mission, and today I woke up puking all over the place :) So much for our well-planned P-day. There are miracles all over the place, though. When Sister Izatt and I were checking out of the grocery store, my card was having some problems. I couldn't focus on that, though, because I could feel my stomach starting to react again. I threw her my wallet, threw my coat and scarf in the shopping cart, and ran outside to throw up in a bush. In the midst of my puking, a young girl came from the side, holding out a package of kleenex. People are so kind :) I love this work, and I love to bear testimony of Jesus Christ so very often. It is really a blessing, a special gift in this short life we have, to serve a full-time mission. I am so grateful for the many beautiful moments I have seen, and continue to see. Love, Sestra Lucy Brimhall

Monday, October 1, 2012

Interesting week in Slovakia!

Dear Family and Friends, What an interesting week! Probably the highlight of the week was the first sacrament meeting in our brand new building in Zvolen! (This is the city that we travel to often, as 3 elders and a senior couple live there, and the 7 of us make up a missionary district. It's about 20 or so minutes away by train) We had 2-hour church in Banska Bystrica in the morning. I was asked to give a talk on seeking first the kingdom of God, and the other speaker was our Relief Society president. It was sort of frantic to put it together during the week, and deliver it in Slovak, but I think it went quite well! The Slovak elders help Sister Izatt and I a lot to pick up the differences. Sister Izatt and I were also asked to prepare Sunday school, so that was another adventure. Church in Banska went well, but it was very low attendance (1 member, 3 investigators, and the missionaries). We then traveled down to Zvolen, after we helped the senior couple work out some branch business, being their translators. We transported a lot of our materials (Bibles, manuals, the piano, and sacrament equipment) down to Zvolen, as they still don't have their own stuff. Zvolen attendance was lower than we hoped as well, but it went well and very smoothly. Church lasted an hour, and we had sacrament meeting and Sunday school. So, I gave my talk again (I was the only speaker), and Sister Izatt and I taught Sunday school again :) It was sort of funny, but it was great, and a lot of fun to be a part of something that is so, very new. We're looking forward to the growth to come! As for the rest of the week, it was sort of a sad week - just a lot of unfortunate events, and our investigators are facing a lot of struggles. This area needs some hope and light, and Sister Izatt are racking our brains and trying to be as obedient and diligent as we can to bring down the miracles these people need. Of course, we cannot make decisions for people, or give them testimonies. However, we try our best to be as worthy of the Spirit as we can, and be the best servants of the Lord that we can, and I think it makes a big difference in how well our members and investigators make progress. Most of all it gives them a clearer, fairer chance to feel the Spirit and to choose what is right and what will bring them true happiness. I am very grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am very grateful for commandments that our Heavenly Father has given us. His plan is so geared towards our happiness, and the wonderful thing about it is that we can see a very clear correlation between our diligence and faithfulness to the commandments, and our happiness. His plan is clear and it is simple. I am thankful for that knowledge. I love my Savior, Jesus Christ. I happily follow in his footsteps every day. Love, Sestra Lucy Brimhall

Monday, September 24, 2012

We are in a bit of a dip, and are seeking....

Dear Family and Friends, The work is going well. We are in a bit of a dip, and are seeking the prepared, and praying for miracles and the ability to love all like the Savior did. What a purifying experience my mission has been and continues to be. Last night Sister Izatt and I had an interesting conversation about the phases our missions have gone through, and the struggles, doubts, fogs, and dips that we have experienced as we've sought to serve the Lord and spread his gospel. I feel like my soul has been expanded on my mission and I've gained an extreme attitude of caution about my testimony. I realize now how easily it can be dented, or even shattered. I realize how important it is to fervently study the scriptures, truly communicate with God through prayer, and continually be around other members of the church (who exhibit the good fruit of the gospel). I have been truly grateful for the Spirit over the last couple weeks, which has brought back to my remembrance very special moments when the Spirit, like fire, has born witness to my soul that the gospel is true, Christ is my Savior, and the Church of Jesus Christ is God's true church. Today I spent a few hours writing a letter to a recent convert in Brno, telling her my thoughts, and committing her to make a commitment to never leave the church, and never forget her testimony. I wish that exhortation could be enough to keep her true and faithful for the rest of her life, but it will always be on her to make those choices. As a representative of the Lord, however, I will continue to bear witness of the truth, and exhort people to repent, and to just hang on. Oh, how I wish Satan would take a break and leave all these precious, beautiful people alone, but we know that we came here to be tested, and we know that we came here to show our faith and our love to our Heavenly Father. How could we do that without opposition and choices? The Spirit in missionary work is so important. Without the Spirit, it really is quite awful work, haha. No one would want to do this work without the Spirit, for all it would be is rejection, tragedy, and disappointment. With the Spirit, you can feel the beautiful, purifying love of the Savior for each soul that you talk to. With the Spirit, people come to know truth, and you get to watch their faith grow. With the Spirit, it's worth it to push through all the doubts, temptations, rejection, and insults to get to those who are truly seeking, and who are willing to make that true change of heart. Love, Sestra Lucy Brimhall

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Surprise Transfers!

Dear Family and Friends, Well, I have a few surprises for you today. Since we didn't have any new missionaries coming in this transfer (which causes us to have transfers on Wednesdays), President Irwin pulled a fast one on us and had us all transfer on Monday, the mission's normal P-day. Sister Clark and I were out contacting on the streets when President called us at about 8:45 PM and told us the news. "Sister Clark!" he said. "You will be staying in Prague!" She screamed "Yay!" I was confused. President then asked, "May I please speak to Sister Brimhall?" She passed the phone to me. "Sister Brimhall! How do you like traveling by train?" "I love it, President!" I responded. "Well, you're going to be on one for a long time - you're going to Banska Bystrica (IN SLOVAKIA) with Sister Izatt!" Surprise! So, after almost a whole day of travel on Monday, I've been serving in Slovakia and have just been loving being back with Sister Izatt again. We get along so well, and we were both so grateful to have another chance to serve together. Sister Izatt and Pysnakova opened Slovakia back up to sisters last transfer in Banska, and have done an outrageously good job at getting this city moving. It's an interesting set up here. I have yet to meet the members, but from what I've learned, there are about 3 members that attend church regularly. Another one is in the middle of being reactivated. We have one Melchizedek priesthood holder, who runs the unit, and we're hoping that the young man who was recently reactivated will be able to receive the Melchizedek priesthood soon, so that this unit can turn into a branch. Because of some interesting events as of late, President also opened up a smaller city called Zvolen, which is about half an hour by train out of Banska. He has a threesome of elders there, and a senior couple that helps us so much. Just yesterday we got confirmation on a place the last-transfer missionaries were looking at, and we will be able to meet in a regular place for church in Zvolen now! We currently run two "units" as a district. The elders come up on Sunday morning to help us run a 2-hour, condensed church meeting, since we need the priesthood. Then we go down to Zvolen to have sacrament meeting there, since they need more bodies, in order to actually have a meeting. The church is tiny here, but the few active members that we do have, are just wonderfully strong saints - true pioneers. I still know very little about the area's situation, but I'll of course fill you in on a lot more next Monday - my p-days are back to Mondays. You're possibly wondering - don't they speak a different language in Slovakia? Yes, they do. It could be compared to Spanish and Portuguese, but it's probably a bit closer. Slovakians have no problem understanding Czechs, as they grow up with a lot of media, etc. from the Czech Republic. The older generation tends to speak both languages, but the younger generation doesn't anymore, and younger Czechs often have a hard time understanding Slovak at all, because they don't come in contact with it as often. When I met Slovaks in the Czech Republic, I could definitely communicate with them, no problem, but understanding was definitely rockier. SPEAKING Slovak, however, is a whole new world. We try to bring the gospel to all in their OWN language, and so I'm trying my best to pick up as much Slovak as I can, as quickly as I can! Everything is so similar, and the changes are so little, but NOTHING is exactly the same, and so there are changes to be made in everything I say. People often think we're from Poland, as we sort of speak a mix of both languages, haha. All in all, it's just been a ball. I coudn't be happier to be here with Sister Izatt and to have a chance to serve in the Slovak Republic, and serve again in a place where the church is just at it's beginnings. I love missionary work, and I know that this work is the work of the Lord. This is His church, and He is working miracles around us in order that it is sustained and continues to grow. Michael, I wish you luck on your farewell talk this weekend! I'll be thinking about you, as you begin your own adventure. I love you all! Love, Sestra Lucy Brimhall

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Life doesn't get better than this.

Dear Family and Friends, Whoo! The work is moving. I hardly know what to write. We just see miracles everyday, teach beautiful people, experience powerful moments with the Spirit, and LOVE the area we're in, the work we're doing, and the message we're sharing. I said to Sister Clark the other night, after the lights were out, "Sister Clark, life doesn't get any better than this. I have zero complaints." It's not like every day is perfect, and it's not like we don't face disappointment on a regular basis as we teach and talk to people about the gospel, but really, I couldn't ask for anything more. I am so happy. I love being a missionary, and doing missionary work. I love being set apart from the world, and not having to focus on so many things that just really don't matter. It just doesn't get any better. Michael, I'm so excited for you - you're beginning one of the grandest and most beautiful adventures you could ever embark on in this life. Do all you can to keep the Spirit with you during these final days until you report. Heavenly Father has things to tell you as you prepare to be set apart, so make sure you're studying and praying, and asking for the guidance He desires to give you. This week we've begun teaching a wonderful new investigator! She is a young, Chinese girl from Panama, who is studying here in Prague. She is the sweetest thing. She grew up going to a Catholic school, and so she knows her Bible stories pretty well. When we met her, she said she definitely believes in God, but she doesn't pray anymore (only when she's asking for things), and her relationship with Him isn't very strong. We met with her, with one of our very recent converts (a young man studying here, who is from Vietnam), and the meeting just went so, so well. We taught her about the restoration, and she had the most fantastic questions! She is so bright, and so sensitive to the Spirit. We asked her to read the introductory pages to the Book of Mormon, but when she came back the next day, she had read 11 chapters into 1 Nephi! In the next meeting a couple days later, she had read 11 more chapters! The best part about it is that she is already so wonderful at studying and applying scripture, and so as she spoke about her reading, she referred back to many principles she had learned from Nephi and his brothers. We asked if she had prayed about the Book of Mormon yet. She said, "No." She felt like she needed to study more - she just wasn't sure if she was ready to pray about it. We testified that it is important to pray, in order to come to know spiritual truths. Our fantastic recent convert shared his experiences with coming to know the Book of Mormon is true. She finally responded, "I know.. I know I need to. I remember when Nephi's brothers asked him about the meaning of their father's dream, and Nephi asked them, 'How can you expect to receive an answer or understanding if you do not pray and sincerely ask God?'" Ha! I was blown away at how perceptive she is. She committed to pray about it this weekend, and she will be coming to district conference, which we have tomorrow. The other great thing about this investigator is that she gave us a referral! We are now teaching her friend from Paraguay, who has an aunt who is Mormon. The wonderful thing about teaching people from Central/South America, or talking to them on the street, is that they almost always have a relative who is Mormon, haha. Being in Prague has certainly been an adventure. There are so many people led to this city, and it's been an incredilbe experience to teach people from all over the world. We're teaching a new investigator from Pakistan now, and our first meeting with him was one of the most beautiful lessons on the restoration that I've ever taught on my mission! I love people, and I am thankful for the honor of spreading the message of the restoration of the gospel to ALL. I love you all! I pray that we are each doing our best to bear the testimony that we have. Let us share what we know, and be generous with the blessings the Lord has given us. This message is for all people, and there are many who are prepared to receive it. Often, it will be those who we never expected. Pray that you will be guided to them! Love, Sestra Lucy Brimhall

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The weeks are flying by!

Dear Family and Friends, The weeks have started flying by again. My mission, thank goodness, had slowed down for the last couple transfers, but I hardly know where the last couple weeks have went, and in just a week and a half we will be transferring again! Last Saturday was the baptism of Honza. It was just simple and beautiful, and my most favorite part about it was that his good friend in the branch was able to baptize him. It is so wonderful when our investigators develop real relationships with the members before they are baptized. It was a really special day for the both of them, and we were grateful to be there as bystanders. So much focus on baptism during my mission and especially in the last couple transfers has really deepened my understanding of what my baptismal covenant truly means. I made it at a much younger age, but it is the same covenant that each of these investigators will make. That baptismal covenant is so simple, and so unbelievably beautiful. As I have studied more and more about what it entails, and as I prepared for my talk last Saturday, in the end I just had a deep desire to be a better person! To help and to serve and to love and to reach out and care for all my brothers and sisters around me - for every person that crosses my path! Essentially, I have had such a burning desire to be more like my Savior. The greatest thing about being like the Savior is that you know that that path is good, safe, happy, and leads to a good, safe, and unbelievably happy destination. A challenge for investigators, especially for our dear, Czech investigators who are so cautious and skeptical, is to embrace the good that comes into their life, and believe that it is good and true, through and through, and that there are no dark corners or hidden secrets that will disappoint you later in the gospel of Jesus Christ. The whole path, when we continue to follow it, is all good, it is all true, and it will ALWAYS lead you to the right destination. Oy, I just love missionary work! What joy I have been blessed to feel on my mission! The week was a tougher one in the way that multiple of our investigators decided to give up. It's difficult to see that. There are two investigators in particular that let us know this week that they just didn't want to continue. For each of those two investigators, the situation in which we found them was a clear miracle. For one, we were in an odd place of town, at an odd time, for an odd reason, and we just bumped into him. He happened to be thirsting for a return to spirituality in his life lately. For the other, we were doing a singing display, and Sister Clark saw him across the square and for no apparent reason, ran after him! He is also in the midst of finding the right path. In the beginning, we told each of them that they might face difficulties as they begin to learn about the message, for this message is true, and in order to achieve something so good and true, often we'll need to overcome a mountain or two. It allows us to exercise our faith and to rely on our Heavenly Father in those moments of growth. They did face difficulties. And to our great disappointment, they didn't exercise the faith and energy to overcome them. May we all remember that trials and difficulties are not excuses for us to turn our face to the Lord or to be lazy. Those trials and difficulties are blessings. They are put in our path so that we can grow. Expect them, and make the decision NOW to overcome them. I just love my Savior. I love Heavenly Father's plan. I love the Book of Mormon. I love how that book helps so many people that I love, and brings light into my life and theirs. God lives. And I know that He loves us. Love, Sestra Lucy Brimhall P.S. I've attached pictures from a little adventure our district took today out to a little place called Kutna Hora (it's about an hour train ride outside of Prague). There, you can find a church that if FULL of bones from the casualties of the Hussite wars if I have my history correct. We also went to see another really beautiful cathedral nearby, and of course, there was a great view. We had hardly any time, so I can't tell you much about anything, but I can tell you it was pretty and it was fun!

Monday, August 27, 2012

The work in Prague!

Dear Family and Friends, Mother - I can't wait to run with you! Abby - Happy Birthday this week! Michael - Happy Birthday tomorrow! Danny - Hope you are loving school again! Dad - Thank you for the pictures you sent. Hope the family reunion was wonderful. Well, well, the week was pumped with miracles! I feel like I've become so deeply rooted in the work here in Prague that it's almost odd to think I ever served anywhere else, even though I have journals full of experiences with different people in different places. It will be quite odd to finish and step back and see my mission as a whole again. It's been such a blessing, however, to be able to focus so much on the now and work so hard in the present. There are too many stories to tell, but I will tell you of one investigator of ours, who we love very, very much. He has been investigating the church for about 10 months now, and has been taught by many sister companionships in the meantime. I always say he is the most beautiful soul I have ever met, because he truly is. He's really just an ordinary 30-year-old guy, who has an ordinary job, and looks pretty ordinary to top it off. However, everyone who meets him is deeply impressed by the humble spirit he has inside of him, and the light of Christ that radiates from him. We have had quite the spiritual journey with this investigator. I can hardly begin to explain it. However, a few weeks ago, we challenged him to read the Book of Mormon AGAIN, from the beginning. Since that time, we have seen a new light come into him, and he has begun to have hope again that he can receive his answer. He keeps all the commandments, and studies and prays incredibly diligently, but for some reason, the heavens have been silent for him. While an outsider, and sometimes this very investigator, may find it unfair that Heavenly Father can answer so many others in a matter of 2-3 months time, but makes this young man wait for so long, I know that Heavenly Father knows him personally and has a plan for how his soul ought to develop. Over the last few weeks, baptism has come up many, many times. It has been on his mind. However, over the last 10 months, he has never accepted a baptismal date, which he could work towards, because he always said he needed his answer first. After a chain of events, Sister Clark and I felt the time was right to challenge him again to accept a date. When he walked into our meeting on Wednesday, I knew it was going to be quite an intense meeting. You could just feel it. Long story short, we sat down with him and our member and had a discussion on the meaning of the covenant of baptism. Sister clark then extended the date. You could see him tense a bit. I tried to explain the reason behind having a date, and how we truly believed it could be conducive to him getting an answer. I don't even remember what I said at that point, but I just remember he was waffling, and I got to the point whereI had no idea what to say, and Sister Clark ( found out later) was hearing the Spirit tell her, "Do NOT speak right now!" After a few moments, our member spoke up and said, "Why not just try it?" and he bore his testimony that it could help. Our investigator then said that he had already tried to rampu up his study and intensify his prayer in order to get an answer before, but he felt like all he ever hears is silence. As the two of them spoke, I felt like one of the clearest pieces of inspiration fell into my head - I knew exactly what to say. I told him that sometimes when all we hear is silence to questions we have in parayer, Heavenly Father desires for us to take a step and make the decision on our own. We have the assurety, however, that if we make a wrong decision, one that will take us down a bad path, Heavenly Father will interfere and stop us, because He loves us. I mentioned to our investigator a time not too long ago, when he had almost sent us a message, telling us he wanted to quit. However, in that same hour, we called him and told him we had just found his Book of Mormon in the chapel, he must have left it at church the day before, could we return it to him right away? Heavenly Father had interfered. He stopped him in going down the wrong path. I bore my testimony that if he chose to go the other way, if he accepted a date of baptism, and worked towards it with faith, Heavenly Father would stop him if it was wrong, but if it was right, he would support him! After a moment of two, he said, "Alright. I will try my best." I said, "Ok." and we knelt in prayer. It was a beautiful meeting, and it was a beautiful week. We asked him to work towards a goal at the end of September. It will be a time of incredible prayer and fasting on our part and on his. I know this gospel is true and I know Heavenly Father loves us and desires for us to have truth. If we will seek the truth sincerely, there may be times when we'll have to take a step into the dark. However, we have the promise from a loving Heavenly Father that He will always catch us if we fall and guide us in the right. Love, Sestra Lucy Brimhall

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sister Exchanges in Uherske Hradiste

Dear Family and Friends, What an eventful week! This week was special because, for the first time in a long time in this mission, we had SISTER EXCHANGES! I've never heard of it before, but President wanted to give it a try. The Elders are always going on 24-hour exchanges to teach and learn from each other. It always seemed like a lot of fun, and really helpful. Sister White (my MTC companion) and I, since we're some of the oldest sisters, are doing a couple exchanges during August and September. This week I was able to travel allll the way to the other side of the country to a small town called Uherske Hradiste and do an exchange with Sister Bowler (in the picture). We all traveled and met up in Brno on Tuesday afternoon, and then did the switch and made it back to Prague and UH by Tuesday night (it was about 5-6 hours of train/bus travel). All Wednesday, I was able to serve with Sister Bowler in her little town. It was a blast! It really and truly had the "small town feel." Everybody knows everybody. As we spoke to people on the street, they would be waving to passerbys that they knew. The branch is a pretty good size - about 40 active members. Sister Bowler told me beforehand that they are constantly meeting people who know at least one member. I was surprised as we tracted and contacted throughout the day to have a list of people we had to say "Hi" to by the end of the day! That city was one of the first to be opened after the revolution, and so many of the members have been members since the early 90's. A lot of people we talked to used to attend the church, or go to it's yoga classes during communism. It was nuts. I could just feel the deep history that was there. We walked the whole day, and covered the whole town, including the town next to it. We taught a couple lessons, and ate at a fantastic pizza place. I admit, I sort of felt like I was on vacation, haha. It was a much different experience than Prague. One of the most striking differences was how kind people were, and how willing they were to speak to us. I'm not sure if there was as much interest as I've found in Prague, but people would talk to us for a long time, and were just amazingly kind! Prague is sort of a battleground compared to a small town like that, haha. Another wonderful part of the day was that we didn't speak a lick of English. Sister Bowler is a Linguistics major back home, and her Czech is just beautiful, so we had absolutely no need to speak anything but Czech. I loved it. Anyway, we traveled back to our areas on Thursday, meeting and switching again in Brno. When I got back to Sister Clark she immediately told me we needed to hurry because we had 4 lessons on plan that night, and a mountain of things to do. I smiled. Over the last few weeks, our area has been incredibly blessed. We've been teaching an outrageous amount that we can hardly keep up. Our investigators are doing so well, and making so much progress. A young man named Honza, that we are teaching, will be baptized in just a couple weeks, and is doing wonderfully at keeping the commandments and studying the scriptures. Our long-time investigators are making incredible progress, and I've been learning so much from the spirit in our lessons over the last little while. Sister Clark and I have just been full of gratitude to our Heavenly Father for all that is going on here in Prague. I love this work because it changes lives, and continues to change mine. I am so grateful for the Atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ. I have felt it's power very strongly lately. It is something that is quite impossible for us to comprehend, but the power and strength that we can draw from it is undeniable. I know the Atonement is real. I know Christ is our Savior. Following his example has transformed me from the inside out. I love the gospel of Jesus Christ and am thankful for my knowledge of it. Love you! Sister Lucy Brimhall
With Sister Bowler on Sister Exchanges

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

President Irwin

Greetings from the Czech/Slovak Mission ! Sister Irwin and I want to take this opportunity of writing to all of our “parents” to express our appreciation for your wonderful children. So far this year we have been well blessed with visits from two Apostles. During my conversations with Elders Christofferson and Holland I mentioned to them that I thought that the Brethren and Heavenly Father were particularly favourable to this Mission in the calling of excellent missionaries – both of them readily agreed. Your children continue to bless our lives as we work closely together to assist our Father in Heaven in His purpose to ‘bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.’ The missionaries are tremendously important to Heavenly Father and it was made very clear to Sister Irwin and I when we were at the Mission President’s Seminar that they way the Brethren will judge whether or not we have succeeded as a Mission President will be in twenty years when they look at the lives of our missionaries – no mention of creating a Stake in the Mission or the number we baptize – rather the impact we have had through our missionary labours on the eternal journey of these great young people. As a Mission we have a vision of the growth of the church here over the next five years. Essential to the achievement of the goals of this vision is the obedience, faith and work ethic of our missionaries. Currently we rate highly in these areas but we know that we cannot be complacent in these and that what we are is more important than what we were and what we are becoming is even more important than that. We recognize that we cannot build the church here on our own. As a consequence we are placing a great emphasis on teaching our lessons to investigators with a member present. We know that as this takes place the members are strengthened by the spirit of missionary work and their willingness to embrace their responsibilities in this area will increase. Our goal for the end of this year is to be teaching 160 lessons a week with a member present. It is also a goal of ours for each of the companionships to be teaching 21 lessons a week. Opportunities for success in these areas will differ slightly depending on the Branch where our missionaries serve however we know that as we learn to plan carefully and prayerfully then we will see success no matter where we labour. Thank you for the e-mails, letters and packages you send to your missionary. They love you and your support means a great deal to them. I hope that we have finally managed to ascertain the best way for packages to come. May I request once more that should you have any negative news that needs to be shared with your missionary please send me an e-mail and make me aware of the situation. All of our missionaries are a long way from home and I am anxious that I am able to give them as much support as they need. Sometimes missionaries become aware of family problems over which they have no influence or control, and these situations can make them very sad. Should you need them to be aware of any such news please let me know. My personal e-mail address is dirwin@ldschurch.org Thank you once again – and congratulations to each of you for having reared such wonderful young people. We love them and we will have an eternal interest in their lives. Sincerely – David Irwin

Saturday, August 4, 2012

It was a good week!

Dear Family and Friends, It was a good week! Just before we came here, we taught three 20-year-olds. It was a first meeting, and all we really got to teaching was prayer, and that God loves us, but I am constantly astounded at the young people who are sincerely searching, reaching for something more than what they have. The young man I originally contacted was a goof ball, but he had the most profound questions. I like contacting goof balls. It means I can be a goof ball back. He came to the meeting with his two friends, another young man and a young woman. To be honest, through the whole thing, the original young man was quite skeptical. At the end, he said he just really couldn't believe it. He was trying so hard to do well in life, and not harm anyone else, and work hard, but he's still poor and unsatisfied! How can he believe in a God, unless He does something for him, or helps him in some way? We testified. We promised blessings. We told him to pray at home, to try it, and he would be able to see for himself. He said he would come to church tomorrow, hopefully with his mother :) This week we have also continued to teach the older man, who is quite the Bible buff. At the beginning of the week, we had a lesson that wasn't super pleasant. The discussion got a little heated between our investigator and the member. However, we had another lesson with him yesterday. I prayed that we might have the Spirit with us, and that we might all be uplifted and learn. If we do not have the Spirit with us, we have no right to be talking about such sacred things. We prayed, and asked him about his reading. While we had a lesson planned about the Plan of Salvation, we got on the topic of the importance of authority in Christ's church, and in receiving saving ordinances, such as baptism. I felt the Spirit sort of grip me, and I proceeded to lay a series of questions before our investigator. He is such an educated man with the Bible, that he had all the knowledge he needed - he just needed to put it into order, in order to understand our message. Through this series of questions, and very little teaching, our investigator taught himself the restoration. We were all uplifted - we all learned. It was a really beautiful experience. The nerves and intimidation we felt before the lesson were replaced by the Spirit, and excitement for this man. He said he would be baptized if he came to know these things are true. If we keep the Spirit with us, I know that he will receive that confirmation that they ARE true. I apologize for the short email this week! I love you all, Sestra Lucy Brimhall

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Elder Holland came to our branch.

Dear Family and Friends, What an eventful week! After I emailed last Saturday, Sister Clark and I headed off to Brno to go see the baptism of the young woman from Bratislava, Slovakia that I taught in Brno - the one who just walked into church one Sunday. We got there a couple minutes before the service started, and then left during the closing song. It was short, but it was worth it. She was so happy, and all the missionaries who taught her, from Brno and from Bratislava came in for the baptism. The branch was super supportive, and I was just overwhelmed again by how much I love those people in Brno. The next day, on Sunday, we had quite an interesting church service, as the apostle Elder Holland came! There we were, Sister Clark and I, waiting in the foyer for our investigators to come, and in walked President Irwin, then Sister Irwin, then a group of nice-looking Americans - Elder Holland and his family. I shook the hands of what must have been his children, and then, before I knew it, Elder Holland was shouting at us, "Sisters! I hear the Czech sisters are the best sisters in the world!" He shook each of our hands, we just smiled back, and then his family filed in to the chapel. It was quite a surreal experience to see Elder Holland, pounding the pulpit in our Prauge chapel. He said many beautiful things to our members and about this country. He talked about the attention the general authorities get, but that the true miracle of this church is the members here. "YOU are the miracle!" he said again and again. Bronislav had been ordained to the Aaronic priesthood at the beginning of the meeting, and so the most touching part of the meeting for me was when Elder Holland mentioned him specifically, and called him a miracle. I shed a few tears as I looked at Bronislav, a young man who has never been recognized as special or important in his life. He truly is a miracle. The rest of the week was interesting in the way that it was just really quite exhausting. Sister Clark has the gift of unending energy. I don't. I've never been a morning person and my mission has proved that I never will be, ha. We taught a lot of lessons in the late evening hours and many of our members and investigators have been under a good amount of stress. As a missionary, you always seem to take on your investigators' struggles or worries. You worry with them, pray with them, plead with Heavenly Father for them that they may receive the answers they seek, or the strength and comfort they may need. One day this week was especially exhausting. We ended it with a first meeting at someone's home at 8PM. This man has read the Bible 24 times, and been baptized a couple times. He truly seeks truth, and he always says he has given up on finding it in a church (despite the fact that he has now started investigating ours). Essentially, it had been an exhausting day, and it was an exhausting lesson with all the complicated discussion and questions in Czech, that at the end of the lesson, when the man kept doubting the need and divinity of the Book of Mormon, all my exhausted sould could do was interrupt his protest and exclaim, "When you read the Book of Mormon, Sir, you will know it is from God!" He sat back, smiled at me, and then said, "Alright, I will read it." I know the Book of Mormon is from God. It is our Heavenly Father's manifestation of love to His children in this day. He has given us more of His word. May we all appreciate our scriptures more - the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and all the standard works. They are just a few words compared to all the dealings of our Heavenly Father with His children. They must be incredibly important, and we should treat them as precious. The scriptures literally change my life every day, and I have seen them bring light into the lives of so many in this country. I love the gospel of Jesus Christ and am so thankful for the light it brings into my life. Love, Sestra Lucy Brimhall P.S. These pictures are from a trip we took today to the spot where Czechoslovakia was dedicated for the preaching of the gospel, 83 years ago. It was a small number of us from the Prague branch, but it was a ball! I love those people.