Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Oh, boy. Beautiful things are happening!

Dear Family and Friends,

Oh, boy. Beautiful things are happening!

First things first, I forgot to congratulate Michael on being accepted to BYU! That's fantastic, brother. I'm so excited you get to go experience that university. I absolutely loved my time at BYU. I learned so much there - not just in class, but from the infinite amount of good examples I had around me. Too bad we won't be able to be there together! Take advantage of the time to just be around really good people. We've been so blessed to be raised in a good family, with righteous friends, and every resource of the church we could want.

There are few who get to experience so much of that good in the world; rather, many are stuck in places where the bad outweighs any good that may be around. I've thought so much about the counsel I've gotten from my young women's and other youth leaders growing up. I think specifically of the certain principles of the gospel they taught us time and time again, almost drilling them into our heads. I became more and more grateful for the counsel and warning the older and older I got, and the more and more I faced those temptations or trials my leaders always foretold. I look at our investigators now, who haven't been blessed with that kind of repeated teaching, and who are trying to climb out of the pits of bad that they may be in. Perhaps they have family members at home who do not keep the commandments, or all their friends are unbelievers and don't understand the fact that we have a God, and he has commandments that will give us the greatest happiness we could desire. Heavenly Father gives us all that we have, every breath, every ability, every gift, every blessing. ALL He asks of us is that we obey his commandments. He then promises to bless us immediately, and with 100% guarantee when we do (Mosiah 2). All He wants is for us to be happy. Every day I think (quite ironically, since I am full of mistakes myself), why don't people just understand this principle? If we could just follow the commandments, we will be happy. We do not have the guarantee that no trials or difficulties will come into our lives. No. But we do have the guarantee that God will be at our support, and we will have the right perspective, and enough spiritual, emotional, mental strength to overcome and conquer. May we all remember our God and just keep the commandments! That is all He asks. I know, with all of my heart, and with concrete evidence taken from the lives of our investigators and the ebbs and flows of their keeping of those commandments, that Heavenly Father WILL bless us, and DOES bless us when we keep His commandments! Let's all buck up and do it! With all of our hearts!

Mother, thank you for your counsel and please thank Bishop for his prayers. It was very much needed during this time on my mission. Did you know I'm one of the older sisters now? After the transfer ends in two and a half weeks, me and my MTC companions will be the next oldest, after one other sister in the mission. It's definitely more upsetting than anything, to be honest, haha. I don't like that I've been out that long, and that that means I have little time left.

Before I run out of time, I have to tell you one of the beautiful things that is happening! The young women we've been teaching, the one who is looking for new work, and who originally contacted US on the street, is making such AMAZING progress! She came to church for the first time this week, and the members did such a wondrous job at reaching out to her! She came in a skirt, and even looked Mormon. She stayed for all three hours, and even stayed for choir! She's making friends with the families, as well as the youth. She met the branch president on Sunday and arranged to go up with all the members on a bus to Prague in a couple weeks when Elder Christofferson comes!!! Oh wow, she's doing so well and she's on plan to be baptized on March 24th! Pray your hearts out! She's a future leader in the Czech!

I love you all!
Sister Lucy Brimhall

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Well, it was another wonderful week.

At a member's house eating langos! Basically, indian frye bread with garlic, cheese and ketchup on it. Really typical in the Czech, kind of odd, but I don't have any complaints!

At game night, every Thursday night with the members and our investigators!

At a restaurant with most of the district. Eating the best svickova dish I've ever had and probably WILL ever have!

Mother and Father, I am taking you to this very restaurant when you come:)

With Sister Ostergaard, one of the senior missionaries serving in Slovakia. She visited Brno for a day and contacted with us.

The pets of the member family we visited this week. Apparently snails as a pets is the new thing ...

At a family home evening with one of the families in the branch. The two little girls are their daughters, and the two other girls are one of the members and one of our investigators (right next to Sister Smith).

With our investigator from Syria. Saying goodbye. He's off to his next adventure!

Dear Family,

Thank you, each one of you, for your emails! It was so great to get one from each one of my siblings this week, and to be reminded that Valentine's day actually happened. It came and went, and I had completely forgotten to reminisce about all of our traditions at home, haha. It's as if time doesn't pass, when you're on your mission. I would forget the dates altogether if I didn't have the coming and melting snow to remind me. I forgot to tell you the week before, that we had to go up to Prague yesterday to renew Sister Smith's visa. Sister Izatt and I had a good two hours to go and see a museum in Prague - we chose to visit the museum of the artist Alfonso Mucha. He is super famous in the Czech, and his art is quite beautiful. Pictures are included!

Well, it was a another wonderful week. High points: We had another zone conference at the end of the week, and the trainings were absolutely fantastic. President introduced the vision for the mission for the next 5 years that he and leaders of the mission have been working on. He talked about new areas we're hoping to open in Slovakia, new buildings we want to acquire for several branches throughout the mission, and other goals such as having enough priesthood and members to turn this mission into a stake in 5 years time. He also talked about the challenges the last two seventies who have visitied our mission have given us. They each challenged each companionship to teach at least 21 lessons a week. That challenge is a big one for us! President wants each companionship to take the challenge and be teaching that much by the end of the year. I've done it maybe once before on my mission, with Sister Anderson in my first transfer. It is quite the feat to teach that much. I know that many areas in this mission are only teaching about a handful of lessons each week. However, it has been absolutely amazing to see the response of this mission since Elder Causse came. Our lessons and lessons with members has literally skyrocketed in a matter of 2 weeks. I think the call to have more faith revved up our missionaries a bit, and we all want to show Elder Causse before he returns with Elder Christofferson in a couple weeks, that yes, this mission CAN do it! We have the faith, the will, the obedience to find people and spread this message like wildfire. President's big message to us this week was that we've been complimented on our obedience and our work ethic, and the leaders of this area of the world have recognized that we have a perfect foundation to help this mission experience "real growth." However, with such high compliments, they expect results. Now is the time for those results.

Something else beautiful that happened this week is that the young man Sister White and I began teaching in Ceske Budejovice was baptized this weekend. I wasn't able to go to the baptism, but Sister White called me up and told me that he gave a beautiful testimony at the end of it, he already has the Aaronic priesthood, and he's getting ready to go to the Frieburg temple next week with all the youth in the country. Can you believe it? I'm so excited for him! I'll never forget the first bench lesson we had with him. He came from absolutely no faith in God, to a strong testimony of the restoration of the gospel. We're praying that he will grow his desire to serve a mission and go ahead and serve after he graduates from high school!

I also received a letter from Elder Petru Tirzuman in Spain. He is still doing so well, and I was glad to hear that his mission president has been encouraging him to use his happy attitude to brighten the attitude of the people he's serving, and spread the joy of the gospel. He was very, very blessed with a happy attitude - that is the one thing I remember the most about him. He is currently praying to do well on an English test he will take on his mission soon, so that he can get into BYU Hawaii! His English has improved so much, from his letters, and he's learning Spanish at the same time. I'm so proud of him. Keep him in your prayers, so that the exam goes well!

Funny moment of the week: I got a call from President Irwin this week and he asked me if I would be willing to be interviewed by a newspaper that runs in southern Moravia. The journalist was doing a piece on what motivated people to do what they do, including a Catholic priest, a couple other religious figures, and a Mormon sister missionary. President said the journalist had specifically requested a sister missionary, and he suspected he had been contacted one before by them. I definitely agreed to do it! When the day came, I was talking to our district president about the interview, and he asked if I could do it in Czech, even though the guy knew English, so we wouldn't have any problems with translation. I was a little nervous to say the least, haha. My Czech is still very basic. However, it all worked out for the best, because when the journalist walked in, I turned around and it happened to be this guy Sister Izatt and I contacted before! He was a super, super cool guy, and we talked to him for a long time, because we actually went to see a monastery that he volunteered in, and so we were able to talk to him about his beliefs a bit. I ended up giving him a contact card at the end of the conversation, and that's how he got in touch with the church's PR people. The interview went well, they took a photo of me in the church building, and after I go proofread it with the journalist tomorrow, the article will run this Thursday. I'll try to buy a copy and send it home!

I really love this work. When this journalist was interviewing me, one of the questions he asked me was what I would take from my experience here as a missionary. I thought about it for a moment, and then I told him that the opportunity to see the CHANGE in people when they choose to follow their Savior, Jesus Christ, and they truly apply his atonement is one of the most precious things I've ever seen in my entire life. It is that CHANGE in people that I will remember for the rest of my life.

I know the gosepl of Jesus Christ has been restored. I love this gospel, and I know it can truly change us from the inside out. I love my Savior. I know he lives.

Love you all!
Sestra Lucy Brimhall

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Beautiful Week!

Sisters in our Mission

Sister Brimhall, Sister Izatt and Elder Durrant who is being transferred back to Slovakia.

Dear Family and Friends,

What a beautiful week we had. I feel like I'm often juggling on my mission. We have beautiful experiences, where we find people who are so prepared, and they are so revved up to get a baptismal date, while at the same time another investigator who has a baptismal date comes across the Word of Wisdom and says they can't do it, their entire life they will never be able to. On another day, our most progressing investigator stops answering her phone, because she decided to go back to her way of life before, denying her divine nature, and giving up her virtue. But then on another day we find out that one of our old investigators, who almost completely dropped us a month ago, is slowly making his way back to faith, and finished the Book of Mormon without even telling us! There's great moments of joy, and great moments of disappointment in every day, in every hour. Sometimes I feel like I'm pushing so hard to help the kingdom of God move along in this country, but I look up and I see a brick wall behind my hands. Those are times when I'm not looking at it right. Maybe if I walk a few feet down, there will be a door in that wall, and Heavenly Father just needed me to work a little bit so I could find it. Perspective is so important. Faith and hope are what anchor us. I love the work. I love the people. I pray for charity every day, that I might love the work and the people even more. I think often of your words of counsel you wrote me a while ago, Dad: "Don't just sprint to the finish. Sprint the whole way."

Want to know something beautiful? Mother, you asked if that young girl was able to get Sundays off of work. Well, this last week we had a lesson with her, when we taught the beginning of the plan of salvation. We ended the lesson talking about the importance of our choices here, and the importance of following the example of Jesus Christ. We brought up how Christ was baptized as an example that we are to be baptized as well. When we brought baptism up, she immediately seemed to straighten up a bit. She started asking questions about who baptizes, and how it works. We answered and then we committed her to be baptized. She said she would, but she wasn't quite prepared yet. We told her that of course we would teach much more, and work with her much more, and we committed her to the 24th of March. She accepted. Fireworks burst out of my face :) We had mentioned church in our lesson, sort of as a side comment, and at the end of the lesson she said that she actually had an interview on Friday that would be a much better job, with better pay, and a schedule from Monday to Friday. We were so happy to hear! This last Friday she had the interview, and she texted us that it went well, she's just waiting to find out if they'll hire her. We're praying our hearts out! It will be such a blessing for her progression in the gospel, and also a blessing for the well-being of her and her sister. Good stuff. God loves His children.

Want to know something else beautiful? The old investigator I mentioned, that was originally scheduled to be baptized in December, had been avoiding us quite a lot, and refused to come to church on Sundays. He was taking on a lot of work, working 7 days a week, for 3 weeks, and avoiding the church. Unfortunately, this investigator broke his back at work (he does construction) last week, and is bed-ridden for at least 3 weeks. It's so awful, and so nuts, but such a miracle for him! He now has time to read, and study the gospel. He picked up the Book of Mormon again and finished it in just a few days! I learned 2 things from his experience: 1) The Sabbath day, the day of rest, is something inspired for not only our spiritual, but also our physical health. 2) The Lord is very aware of each one of us, and loves us very much. We're talking about baptism again with him, and Sister Izatt and I are so excited about his return. One more thing I learned from that experience: Never give up on people. Never, never give up. We didn't let up on this man for a single day. We called him, texted him, prayed for him, read scriptures to him over the phone, exhorted him to repentance, and reminded him of his testimony again and again, whether he wanted to hear it or not. Repentance is painful sometimes. Following the Spirit is difficult sometimes. But when you see your friends going astray, or family members denying their faith, DO NOT let go of them. Work your hardest. Pull them back. We can't give up on each other! I know the Lord never gives up on us, no matter how sad we may make Him sometimes. I know, even if I make mistakes, and discount his love, when I am ready and I am humbled, He will always be right there, ready for me to turn back.

I'm so happy. I love this work. I love the Lord.

I love you all!
Sestra Lucy Brimhall