Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Dearest Family and Friends,
This week was one of the sweetest weeks of my mission. I've written several times of a beautiful young woman who contacted me on the street during the first week of January. This young woman was finally baptized on Saturday and confirmed on Sunday as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. So many miracles happened throughout the week, in order for her to make her original baptismal date on Saturday. On Monday night, things were all up in the air. She still wasn't sure if she wanted to be baptized, and she had a really complicated work schedule, where she couldn't get work off for the next two Sundays. We weren't sure what we were going to do, as far as getting her confirmed at church. We left Monday night, not knowing what was going to be. We, as a companionship, had kind of mentally decided that it probably wouldn't go down this week, but maybe next week. On Tuesday night, we had a lesson with her and she said that she wanted to be baptized this Saturday! She had thought long about, had prayed hard about it, and felt that now was the time, even though we still hadn't taught her everything she needed. When she said that, I realized that the day before she had asked me how we picked her baptismal date originally. I answered, "By the means of prayer." She nodded her head, and that was it. The rest of the week proved to me that the Lord is in charge of this work, and we really have no business trying to change his plans :) This young woman was meant to be baptized this Saturday, and that was how the Lord was going to have it. We still had the problem of her having work the next couple Sundays, which isn't so ideal for a new convert. Later that day, on Tuesday evening, she gave us a call. The perfect, dream job that she had interviewed for several weeks ago finally called her back. She was given a job in a prominent company in the city, with a schedule from Monday to Friday, with fantastic pay! She was absolutely ecstatic! We all were in complete shock. Her ability to regularly attend church had been a big concern for her and for us, and Heavenly Father went ahead and took care of it. I learned a lesson in trusting the Lord this week. We all felt that when we were thinking of changing her date, Heavenly Father was probably up there saying, "Hold on, sisters. What are you doing? I have a blessing lined up for her this week, and it's all going to work out just as I inspired you to plan it." It truly did.
We rushed to finish teaching her the remaining commandments, and she accepted them beautifully. She had her interview on Friday, and she was baptized on Saturday morning. All the youth in the branch came out to support her and take part in her baptismal service. It was a beautiful service! Absolutely beautiful! The branch president baptized her, and one of the youth confirmed her the following day at church. On Sunday afternoon, we happened to have a youth activity organized, to do splits with the missionaries and go out to visit all the less active youth and invite them to conference. She actually came and I was able to take her and another young woman in the branch out for a few hours to visit some less actives, tract some doors, and contact people on the trams. On her first day as a member, she was doing full-on missionary work! That was a really special day for me, to spend several hours with her, bearing my testimony about how much people need this gospel, and what an opportunity we have to share it.
I love you all so very much. I know the Lord loves each one of you. I know this gospel is true and will bless our lives if we let it.
Sestra Lucy Brimhall
I am being knighted, it is something one of the members does every transfer for the missionaries. It's up on a fortress in Brno!
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Dear family and friends,
Yes, indeed, the warm weather has returned! For the last couple days, I haven't even been wearing a coat or my boots! It feels so good, and I don't look as intimidating anymore in all that black. It was a wonderful week! Oh, wow, just a beautiful week. How many times have I said "I love missionary work"? Not enough. I truly love it. I think I love it so much because it's a time in your life when all you're focused on is the Lord's work, and all you get to do is figure out what the Lord would do, and do it. I am indescribably grateful for such a unique opportunity to be so focused on something so good. I love when there's so much work to do, that I'm working until 10:20PM, before I have to brush my teeth, pray, and hop into bed, and then I fall asleep, my head swimming with thoughts about what our investigators may need next. I'm so grateful to Heavenly Father for the honor to serve, and spend a year and a half in His shoes.
Well, it was partly a beautiful week because of our new companion, Sister Pysnakova. She is just incredible! She came in with such a head start on the Czech, and I soon learned, a huge head start on just being a confident, courageous, and sensitive missionary. Her teaching skills have already blessed the progress of so many of our investigators. She's bold, and loving, and she makes sure the message is clear enough, that everyone has a fair chance to accept it. Her story is that her parents grew up in the Czech Republic, and even had their first child here. They then immigrated to America around the year 1987, and have lived there ever since. They had three more daughters in the states. I still haven't gotten the whole story about their conversion, but when Sister Pysnakova was 1-years-old, her parents were baptized into the church. Sister Pysnakova grew up in Bountiful. Her parents spoke Czech to each other, so she always heard it in her home, and they would come to the Czech Republic very often - I think almost every summer. Yes, there are missionaries in her parents' hometown. She has a lot of relatives in the country, but none of them are members, so we'll see where she goes, and how her story unfolds as a missionary! I feel so honored to serve with her!
You know what's funny, Mother, is that I actually just spent some time reading that Prayer is a Privilege talk this last week. I have been spending a lot of time studying prayer, and how the spirit works with us and gives us answers to those prayers, as we have many investigators right now who are either beginning their journey of prayer, or relying very much on prayer in order to receive confirmations about the message of the restored gospel. I'm going to reread it again, though. Thank you! I'm so glad you had a wonderful time in the temple. What day is the Boston Marathon again?
Father, you telling me about the Dastrup's mother made me tear up a bit. Isn't it just wonderful when you are able to associate with people who emulate Jesus Christ in such a vivid way? I feel like I've been so blessed, all throughout my life, to be around such amazing examples of him. The members in this country are such chosen, strong people, that I often feel quite humbled to be in their presence, and work amidst them.
Michael, I just about yelled when I read that your mission file is open! I'm going to miss you so much, Mike, but I'm so proud of you. Serving a mission will impact your life in such a profound way; I haven't even realized just how profound yet. Work hard up to it. Everything you read and study in the scriptures and Preach My Gospel will help you so very much. Start digging into the simple doctrines as much as you can. It will bless your mission and the people you serve.
Well, we had a wonderful week, teaching some really golden youth. We've got a full slate of fantastic investigators that we're working with, including 4 really amazing young people right now. One of them is from Slovakia and is a faithful Catholic, but is seeking answers about whether God is still speaking through prophets today. He is nothing less than golden, but is in university and doesn't have a ton of time, so we're praying that obstacle will somehow clear itself up. We're also teaching another super smart young man, who is struggling with believing that he can talk to a real God, and receive real answers. He wasn't sure if he had enough motivation to really read the Book of Mormon and find out about it's truthfulness, but we had a powerful, spirit-filled lesson with him this week, and he committed to put the time in. There's another young man that has had absolutely no experience with religion, or anything of the sort, but had heard about the Mormons because one of his favorite hockey players is a Mormon. We started teaching him, and realized that he is quite the find! He is friendly, inquisitive, so willing and sincere. Prayer is so foreign to him, as well as scriptures, but he's taking it in stride, and ah, he's just so cool! Finally, we're still teaching the young woman who contacted me on the street just a few months ago. Family, she's so amazing! We taught her about tithing with the branch president this week, and they really connected. Though her baptismal date is just in a week, she expressed that she still doesn't know if she's going to be baptized. Her concern was that she wasn't sure she would be able to live all the commandments after baptism. Our branch president was so perfect and sensitive, as he told his own story of converting to the church at a similar young age, and what he did to repent, and bring his life in line with Heavenly Father's will. She's praying hard and reading to receive a confirmation about the Book of Mormon. I've never prayed so often for someone in my entire life. I think I find myself praying for her every hour or so, just praying to Heavenly Father to guide her, and give her what she needs.
Time to go! I love you so much!
The Savior lives. The Church is true!
Friday, March 16, 2012
My dearest family and friends!
Fireworks are coming out of my face, I'm so happy!
Answers to questions: Our sweet investigators are doing so well! We're in the Frieburg, Germany temple district, and many of our members just went up this last week, as we had another Czeh language week in that temple. We currently have 12 sisters in the mission.
This email is just full of good news.
1) I forgot to tell you in my last letter that another one of the wonderful investigators I taught in Ceske Budejovice was just baptized a couple weeks ago. She is such a doll. She is an older lady, that struggled coming to church, because she has some health problems, but is now attending faithfully and making covenants with her Heavenly Father! I really bonded with her. I remember teaching her the word of wisdom on my very last night in that city, and she accepted it beautifully. At the end of the lesson, she gave me this little statue of a saint that she had on her shelf. She had two of the same one, so she basically said they could be our "friendship saints," and every time we looked at them, we would remember the other. Haha. She's a beautiful person, who is not one bit shy about sharing the gospel with every person who walks in her door. Literally.
2) This weekend, this country was blessed to have an apostle of the Lord come to Prauge! Elder D. Todd Christofferson came to speak to us on Saturday and Sunday. Our most progressing investigator was able to come to every part of the experience, traveling up on Saturday with the members, and even going to the young adult session that night. Because she speaks French, after some nudging by the members, she was able to speak in French to Elder Causse and his wife, the accompanying seventy who returned with the apostle. She was also able to shake the apostle's hand. What a blessing. My companions and I couldn't have been more grateful for the opportunity our members, investigators, and less actives had to feel the love of the Lord, through an apostle called of God. Talking to our investigator, and one of the less actives that was able to go, they were just beaming, brimming with the spirit. They were both so moved, and so inspired by different parts of the messages that were given.
We missionaries gathered from across the mission and all rode up on a private bus to Prague on Sunday morning. That day was literally one of the best days of my entire life. I tried to pay special attention to the Spirit that day. As I sat in the big conference center, with over 500 saints from Slovakia and the Czech Republic, I noticed that I felt some of the deepest peace I had felt in a very long time. It was an overwhelming calm and comfort.. I felt like I was wrapped in my Savior's arms. On my mission I have felt so much joy, but also so much worry, stress, and heartache. It makes me tear up to think about the feeling I felt in that conference center on Sunday. Sister Christofferson spoke about the Atonement. She told a story of visiting a good friend of hers when her friend, who happened to be an incredible pianist, received her two grand pianos back, that were in being fixed. As they were carried back into her house, her friend exclaimed that she couldn't wait! They had to try the sound! So, she told Sister Christofferson to pick any church hymn she wanted, and to start playing on one of the pianos. Sister Christofferson made all sorts of comments about how she wasn't a great player, and that she had only had a few lessons when she was young, and she would really only be able to play the very simplest thing they could find in the hymn book. She hesitated and protested, but her friend just told her to play, and she would accompany her on the other piano. As Sister Christofferson began to pluck away at one of the hymns, her friend came in on the other. Sister Christofferson called it the most magnificent musical experience of her life. Her friend came in, embellishing everything Sister Christofferson had to offer, playing the most beautiful runs, and turning the once simple hymn, into a real masterpiece. They played for a full hour like that, Sister Christofferson giving everything she could, with her errors and all, and her friend making up the difference. She likened this experience to the beauty and grace of the Atonement. As I pondered on what she said, I thought about all the moments on my mission when I just didn't know if I could give my investigators, companions, or members the things that they needed. I often doubt that I can do what the Lord is asking of me, because the first thing we all think of is our weaknesses, right? Sister Christofferson assured us that THAT is why we have the Atonement. He has suffered all. He has gone all the way there and back. He knows us and He loves us. He has suffered that we might not. His Atonement is always there for us, and He pleads for us to turn to Him, rely on Him, accept Him, and apply his atoning grace. I know that as each one of us applies the Atonement in our lives, we can feel that overwhelming peace, comfort, and assurance that I felt that day. Jesus Christ lives. He is our Savior! He can make up the difference.
3) Transfers! To finish off the Sunday night, President called me and invited me to be a trainer. I wasn't too surprised, as there were three sisters coming in, and I'm grouped in the most senior sisters in the mission. In fact, my two companions from the MTC and I will be training the incoming sisters. I went back up to Prague on Tuesday for some training, and on Wednesday morning I met my new companion! Want to know something crazy? 1) I knew her before! She was in my relief society at BYU the year before. 2) She's Czech! Haha. Crazy, eh? Her parents are from Ostrava, which is on the eastern part of the country, but she was born and raised in Bountiful. Her American name is Melissa Pysnak.. her Czech missionary name is Sestra Pysnakova, with a few accents. She is absolutely wonderful. I knew she was coming in, but I didn't think I would be so lucky as to get her. Her Czech is already fantastic - she's probably at about a 3rd transfer level, so that's no problem, and she is just full of the spirit. We're going to get along so well. For the next two weeks, actually, since one of the sisters in the MTC broke her finger, Sister Smith will be staying with us, until she heads off to her new city. Thus, we'll be in a threesome for just a little while longer, which is fantastic, as we've got baptisms to plan! Sister Izatt is finally off to a new adventure - going to a very small village in the Czech Republic and driving a car, since her area spans a couple cities. She's going to do great, but I will definitely miss her.
I wanted to write you one more thought. This week we worked a lot more with members of the church who have lost their faith a little bit. I have learned something very valuable about faith, and about how we gain faith, and continue to build faith. We learn in the Bible that faith without works is dead. We cannot build faith unless we put some work into it. If I have a testimony of the Book of Mormon - that it is truly anothe testament of Jesus Christ, and that I grow closer to him as I read it - I will lose that testimony if I do not continue reading the Book of Mormon and praying about it. Faith is a gift from God, and it requires nurturing. We must continually show our faith, and exercise our faith, that it may strengthen. Faith begins by works and grows by works. May we all continue to strengthen our faith and testimonies every, single day!
Thursday, March 8, 2012
Dearest Family and Friends,
Thank you for the pictures! My companions and I loved them. Congrats on your performance in the race, Michael! I can't believe how talented you are in everything that you do.
Well, I can hardly pick out what to tell you from the week. How about I give you a run down of just about everything?
On Monday, we had family home evening with the youth in the building. One of our investigators played the flute for a musical number! It was great. On Tuesday, we all felt inspired to go visit a recent convert who had gone completely innactive, and was avoiding our phone calls. The idea just kind of fell onto our planners the night before - someone suggested the idea, and within one second, we all said, "Yes, that is what we need to do," and we wrote it down. We had tried visiting her before, but weren't ever able to get into the building. We prayed our hearts out the next morning, and when we went, a very nice lady let us in, and we were able to knock her door and find her actually home. It was truly a miracle. We established contact with her again, and we're praying she will return to the right path, for her own sake, and for the sake of her young daughter. That night we taught English and had a ball! I LOVE our English class. They are the cutest thing. We also had a beautiful lesson with our young, miracle investigator girl, and taught her about enduring to the end by reading daily, praying often, and taking the sacrament each Sunday. On Wednesday, we had a lesson with an innactive youth - it was quite sad; rather, she was quite sad. She hasn't been doing those things - reading daily, praying often, and going to church weekly. Thus, though she couldn't ask for anything more in life regarding work, school, or living situation, she is not happy, and a tired expression has overcome her once happy and loving one. We also taught one of our newer investigators, who has an extreme problem with smoking. He had on his new teeth today, and was looking extra excited about learning about the gospel. We invited him to be baptized in a little over a month, and he said he would have to think a little more about it, before he could commit. We also picked up a former investigator - a young girl who is quite bright and good friends with the youth in the branch. She is slowly rediscovering the faith she once gained when she used to be an investigator. Sister Izatt and I went on splits and left Sister Smith to teach another lesson with our senior sister missionary, while we helped the elders teach the young man who is deaf in one ear that I mentioned a few months ago. He's still investigating! We ended up giving him to the elders, as we thought they would be a better match for him. We've loved watching him grow, though. Get this: He's already read the Book of Mormon 3 times! He loves it! He has come so far from when Sister Izatt and I were teaching him. He didn't even believe in God, and had never prayed, but now he is well-versed, and well-spoken as he talks about the gospel of Jesus Christ, and what it means in his life. When we asked him what his favorite story was in the Book of Mormon, he immediately flipped open to verse Mosiah 18:8, and said he just really liked that verse, so much so that he had memorized it. He then also flipped open to Alma 30:44, and said "That's a good one too." I was astounded. He still hasn't been baptized, as his church attendance is a little complicated with the fact that he goes home to a different city each week, and is quite far from a branch. Pray that something will work out! We finished Wednesday night by going out to some members' apartment, hoping to ask for refferals, when instead we just ended up teaching an off-the-cuff lesson to their roommates, sitting in their little kitchen. Whoo! Having a tag is the greatest. On Thursday, we picked up this beautiful new investigator! He was taught a couple times about 3 years ago, so we called him up and met with him again. He is a young, 23-year-old man who is one of the most thoughtful, kind young men I've ever met. My favorite part about his lesson was when I asked him what it would mean to him if Joseph Smith really was called as a prophet, and we still have a living prophet today. He said it would be very important for him. It would mean that we're not forgotten. God is still looking over us.
Well, about twice as much as that happened during the last half of the week, but I'm out of time! Just know that we're seeing miracles every day here! I absolutely LOVE this work. I can't imagine doing anything else but this. I love my Savior. I know he lives.