Saturday, May 26, 2012

Dear Family and Friends, First off, Michael, congratulations on becoming a high school graduate. Now it's time for the big stuff! Whoo! Second of all, I have to sincerely apologize to all friends and family who have written me. I don't think I've written more than a couple letters in several months, and I'm really, truly sorry. I certainly think about it every preparation day, and then I look back at the end of the day and say, "Oh, uh, what? Maybe next week." I've made a new commitment to write more often, so you can expect letters in the coming months. As many passerbys say to me on the street, "Nezlobte se, ale nemam cas!" ("Don't be mad, but I don't have time!") :)) Well, it's been a busy, busy, busy week. Full of work and good stuff! Coming into a new area, especially one like Prague, where the branch is the largest of them all, and the area has been open for the longest of all areas, there is a lot of learning and catching up to do. I love it, though. It's been wonderful to come into a new area with a lot more knowledge of missionary work than I had in my last two areas, and to be able to approach the work with a better strategy and perspective on what is most important. Sister Sears and I have got big plans! The nights have been a bit overwhelming sometimes, as we're just swimming in so many things we want to get done, but it's just reminded me of how much I love being busy. I love work, and I'm the happiest when I'm working hard. There are some beautiful people in this area that we've had the privilege to teach. One of them is a middle-aged man and new father from England. The sisters had been teaching him for about a month and a half before I came. He has been in the Czech Republic for 14 years and has a child with his girlfriend, who is Czech. He plays in a fairly famous band here and teaches music on top of that. I can tell that he has this incredibly magnetic personality and is just full of life, humor, and happiness. He would probably be the music teacher that everyone in school wants. However, since we are mostly speaking to him about serious and spiritual things, we don't get to see that as much, but we can see that he's a super likeable and just cool guy. He is this middle-aged man, with a 7-month old son, who has never had much experience with religion, but has realized that his values in life differ from the values he sees in the world and people around him. His mind started to turn to God and the kind of life He wants for him and his family. I think he is the most fun investigator I have ever taught! He is PACKED with personality. He can hardly stay on his seat, he just gets so excited about everything and asks the most incredible, thought-provoking questions during our lessons. The great thing about him is that he wants to know how everything works in practice. We move quite slow through all the principles, because he asks questions about how it works in real life, and how it influences us and those around us. We tell a lot of personal stories and experiences when we teach him, and so the lessons are just super duper enjoyable. This week we taught him about the gift of the Holy Ghost, which we receive after baptism. He really likes to see how things can apply to him being a father, and so I testified of how the gift of the Holy Ghost can be one of the most incredible tools in parenthood. He asked us one of his good questions, "Well, hold on. Hmm. Let me see.. Will the Holy Ghost really ever tell us to do something that is against our common sense?" Good question, right? Do we ever recieve inspiration or guidance that would go against what we may naturally have chosen anyway? If not, then maybe that Holy Ghost really isn't needed, or maybe it's influence is just something we make up in our minds, and all that's going on is the workings of our conscious. In less than a moment, the story Mom told once when she spoke at stake conference popped into my mind. She told about taking Abby up to study at BYU-Idaho. Perhaps I don't remember all the details correctly, but I told our investigator that story. I told him that you had each prayed about it, and that Abby felt that BYU-Idaho was the place she needed to go and begin her studies. The whole family was aware of the fact that there were absolutely no real services for her there, and that the school had never really dealt with a hearing-impaired student like her. There wasn't even an interpreter set up to get her through her classes. Now, why would Mom and Dad agree to take their daughter up there, and drop her off in such a situation? That doesn't make sense! However, thank goodness, I have parents and a sister who rely on the promptings and guidance of the spirit. For some reason, it felt right, and so they packed up and the started to drive her up to Idaho. I remember Mom saying that she was crying on the road up, because she couldn't believe what she was doing to her daughter. After getting her there, a miracle occurred, and a professional interpreter had just moved into the city, following her husband's work. She was out of work herself, and was hoping to find some way to use her skills. Little did we know, and little did she know, but how very well Heavenly Father knew that He had set it up quite perfectly for each individual to be able to bless the other. I know that the influence of the Holy Ghost and the hand of our Heavenly Father in our lives are very real. In a country where many lack that faith in a god who guides our lives and the happenings of this world, I have thought very often on my testimony of that very simple concept - we have a Father in Heaven, and He loves us very much. I have spent much of my time on my mission thinking about the evidences of His hand in my life, and the manifestations of His love for me. I've had so many powerful experiences and impressions throughout my life, that the only way I could deny His existence and His love is if I allowed myself to forget and push those memories out. I've made a personal commitment that I will never do that. He has been so kind and so merciful towards me and my family and the many people I love, including the investigators and members I have taught, that I owe it to Him to remember, to acknowledge, and to thank. May we all take the time to remember those moments when our Heavenly Father has clearly expressed His love for us. If you haven't felt that, I commit you to pray about it, and then watch. He will show you, and He will let you feel it. I know that is true! I love you all very much! Sestra Lucy Brimhall

Saturday, May 19, 2012

In Prague!

Dear Family and Friends, WOW! Lima, Peru?! Michael, I hardly know what to say. I'm so excited for you. That's where the Lord needs you! That call is a call that comes by the means of revelation, and that is the exact place the Lord needs you to work and labor. There will be people there who need your sunshine of a personality and your incredible work ethic. There will also be people there and experiences awaiting you that will shape the person Heavenly Father desires you to become. You will be able to serve others on your mission, but your mission will mostly serve you. You will learn so much, Michael. I can't wait to hear all about it. I'll be sad to miss you by a couple months, but I can hardly wait to see you on the other side :) I wish we could have you here in the Czech Republic haha, but I know you will do miraculous work in Peru. I love you, brother. Have fun at BYU! Well, you've already heard the news from the Martin couple, I assume, but YES, I have been transferred to the humongous, incredibly diverse capital city of Prague! I am follow-up training Sister Sears from Salt Lake City. She is just about the sweetest, most humble and kind companion. She already finished her degree at Westminster college in finance and spanish/latin american studies. She's 23-years-old. She is super wonderful, and the first thing I noticed about her was her beautifully unique and special view on the gospel. She's had her fill of life experiences, and you can see it in the way she studies and talks about the gospel in application. I'm afraid my camera is dead today, so I can't send any new pictures, but I'll be sure to next week. Some other news: since the office in Prague needs to function on weekdays, my preparation day will now be on Saturdays as long as I'm in Prague. First impressions: I'm not really sure. It's quite big, but we don't cover that much ground as we stick in our area and are mostly at the church, at our apartment, or nearby either of those. My only concern about the city is that we speak an incredible amount of English. Many of the people we teach are foreign, and I haven't met a member yet that doesn't speak fantastic English. I worry about my Czech, but I know that's not what it's about. Heavenly Father needs the gospel to get into the hands of all his children, and my desire to speak better Czech has nothing to do with serving the Lord's children. I'll get over it :) I haven't been able to go to church yet, so I haven't met many of the members (only those we've taught with in the last few days), but of those that I have met (including our most recent converts), they are INCREDIBLE. I love serving in this mission, where you can meet some of the Lord's most elect, who see the truth, claim it, and live by it, despite how much opposition or persecution they may receive from those around them. I've learned more and more in the last few weeks the kind of persecution our members and especially our investigators face the minute they start looking into the church. It is so key for each one of them to read in the Book of Mormon each day, so that they can remember the spirit they felt, and why they felt that pull to learn in the first place. They are truly pioneers, and I admire each one of them so, very much. Just as with any time you switch areas, I still feel a pang of missing my beloved Brno branch and investigators, but I know as soon as we go to church and I'm able to dive into the lives of all these members and investigators, my heart will love them just as much. I LOVE this work, and you can't help but love the people as you see them grow and make strides in the gospel. Sister Pysnakova stayed in Brno and will be in a threesome with my old companion, Sister White, and with Sister Jorgensen, who is in her 3rd transfer. They are so lucky! I hope to return a few times in the next couple months to see some of our investigators baptized. To finish up some stories from Brno: We taught "P" about tithing and about the priesthood before I left, and he is still excited to be baptized on the 30th of May! His family is still very against the idea, but he's the smiliest, happiest thing and is whizzing through the Book of Mormon. The student we teach, finally accepted a baptismal date for the middle of June and has started reading the Book of Mormon daily! She said in our lesson this week that when she reads, she can hardly describe how she feels... it is like "fascination." She said herself, "No mortal man could have written this book!" Our beautiful new investigator, came to say goodbye on my last day. She was sick for about a week, so we weren't able to meet, and in that time a friend of her put some ideas into her head that made her doubt her choice to investigate the church. She was quite conflicted about it, but then she sat down and read a chapter in the Book of Mormon that we recommended to her about the atonement of Jesus Christ (Alma 7). She said to us in our next lesson, "It's true! I just know it is. Everything there is true." She felt the spirit again, and she was renewed in her dedication to studying the gospel and coming to know God and her Savior, Jesus Christ. I only taught her for a couple weeks, but she left such a deep, lasting impression on me. I love each one of them so, very much. I was sad to leave Paval - she was such a big part of my life from January until now, but I'm so excited to see her make her way in the gospel. She will be going to the temple for the first time next weekend! I feel so blessed to have served in that area when Heavenly Father led these incredible, prepared, young people to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I'm looking forward to digging into the area of Prague! Sister Sears and I are ready to build up our pool of investigators and find those that are prepared to hear and accept it! I love this work and I love my Savior. I love each one of you, and I know Heavenly Father cares and is watching over us. He is aware of each one of our situations in life, and He is ready to bless us and guide us when we turn to Him. All my love, Sestra Lucy Brimhall

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Transfers

Hi... Today Sister Brimhall left us for her new assignment in Prague. Oh, how we will miss her!!!! She has been such a powerful missionary. Sister Pysnak told us today that when Sis. Brimhall was her RS Pres. at BYU, she so admired her... And then when she found Sis. B. had her call to the Czech Republic, she felt terrible because she was so jealous...and then...when she got her own call, she had a strong feeling that Sis B. would be her trainer. Doesn't our Heavenly Father find ways to show us these wonderful, tender mercies???? We have all been blessed to be able to work with Sister Brimhall. We know there is a purpose for her move to Prague, and will watch for her impact there as well. Brother & Sister Martin

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

We told him it was possible to be completely cleansed.

Dear Family, Thank you for your emails this week. The spirit filled this internet cafe when I read your words of support, your stories of soul stretching and shaping, and your earth-shaking testimonies. It put a cap on those moments of struggle and doubt I had been experiencing over the last couple weeks. Thank you for loving me so much and striving with all of your might to "work out your own salvation," and forge onward on this path of life, holding to the gospel and seeking the spirit in all those moments of fear or doubt. You all said it right - we're in this together, yes, but we all need to work it out on our own. I want to tell you of several miracles I saw this week. We met with the investigator on the train a couple times over the last couple weeks - the young student who was found on the train by a few of our youth several weeks ago. We call him 3 Nephites. He had been sick for a week and a half, so that really put us behind on our progress with him. In last weeks lesson, after not seeing him for a while, we sat down and followed up on how it was going with reading and praying. I asked him if he had been reading. He said, "Yes, daily." I asked him if he had prayed about the Book of Mormon. He said, "Yes." I asked him if he asked God specifically if it was true. He said, "Yes." I asked him if he felt he had received an answer. He looked up, paused, smiled his golden smile, and said, "Yes, I do. It feels right." He asked us immediately if we could move his baptismal date a bit, as he hadn't expected to be sick for so long. We reassured him that we could and in the next meeting we taught him the gospel of Jesus Christ and moved his date to the 30th of May. As we taught him about the gospel, he asked all sorts of questions about how it happened, what confirmation was like, and so forth. We taught with our recent convert, and she got along so, so well with him. We realized we had never shown him the baptismal font in the building, and so after the lesson we went to take a look. We opened the doors, and Pavel's face just lit up. He looked down into the font, and just beamed. I never forget the scene of her popping out from the side entrance from the girl's bathroom and saying, "This is where I came in from!" She just walked away, smiling from ear to ear. We met a student from Bratislava, Slovakia this week. She has already come to church 3 times, and during this lesson she told us that her mom got so curious about what she was learning with us that she went to the library and found some old translation of the Book of Mormon in Slovak! Petra went home this weekend, so we sent a Czech Book of Mormon with her, and a Liahona from two conferences ago. She wants to bring her mom up to Brno sometime so she can meet us all and come to church. She still needs to dive into the Book of Mormon and give it the time it needs, but she is such an incredibly sharp, curious, sincere young woman. She is someone that the Lord found and needs. We met with Pavla this week to talk more about getting started on family history and getting names ready for the temple trip at the end of May. She was finally able to pull up all the family history work her uncle has done and show us how incredibly prepared she already is! She got so excited as she started clicking on all the names and information her uncle has put together about their family. She was just having so much fun with it, and Sister Pysnakova and I couldn't have been happier. The meeting turned into something truly special as Sister Pysnakova and I felt so impressed that Pavla was the key to the salvation of so many souls. I bore my testimony that her ancestors are very aware of who she is and what she is doing. I don't doubt that they led her to us that day when Sister Izatt and I were contacting, and prompted her to ask what that book was that I was holding. After being so bubbly and energetic, when I said that, Pavla started to quiet down. Sister Pysnakova and I then told of several experiences her family has had and friends of our family have had (Sister Palmer) of passing onto the other side and seeing so much work going on in the spirit world. "Everyone is working so hard, Pavla! They need your help! You are the key." The spirit was so, very strong. I felt very honored to be in Pavla's presence, and to be a part of such a great work. Pavla will be preparing to take her mother's and brother's names to the temple, along with other ancestors in just a few weeks. One morning this week, Sister Pysnakova and I realized that we need to focus our teaching much more on helping people strengthen their faith in Christ. We had a very powerful companion study on the atonement of Jesus Christ and the work of helping people access it's power. That very same day, we were walking around in the city center, and I kept feeling like we should take some odd turns and go a different way than we had planned. I think Sister Pysnakova was a bit confused, because I kept taking turns towards areas that had no people. As we walked, a middle-aged man started walking our way. I stopped him and began to tell him who we are and what we do. Just a few seconds into the contact, he told us that he was a bad man, that he had made quite awful decisions in his life, and that he probably wasn't the right one to be talking to. He said it with such humility, and I knew that we had just encountered a man with a truly repentant heart. Sister Pysnakova and I, with our testimonies of the Atonement overflowing, bore our hearts out to this man and told him the beautiful message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We told him that it was possible to be completely cleansed, and to make all things right with God again, through our Savior, Jesus Christ. All he asked was, "How do I do it?" We told him to meet us the next morning at 8:45 in front of our church building, and we would explain more then. The next morning, as we turned the corner to our chapel, there he was, waiting, just as he said he would. I felt very strongly the love of Heavenly Father for this man. I will never forget the spirit I felt when we literally ran into a soul that was experiencing true repentance. We are meeting with him tomorrow, and I feel like a grand journey is about to begin. I'm out of time, but I love each one of you, and I know the Lord loves us. Sister Lucy Brimhall

"What did you find?"

Dear Family and Friends, Mother dear! Good luck on the Boston Marathon! I can hardly believe you're running as I type. It makes me want to type faster... Tell Jeff Kerr that I'm so excited for him! Wow! What a mission. New York, New York. It's perfect for him. Funny how that works out, huh? When does he take off? He'll be such a powerhouse missionary - I can already see it. Serve your hear out, Jeff! It may seem like a long time, but it will slip through your fingers and before you know it, it will be behind you. Make the best of it. Leave everything behind and don't look back. It will all be okay for when you return - there's no need to leave a part of you behind when the Lord needs every piece of your heart, might, mind and soul to serve those people in New York. When is Michael putting his papers in exactly? This week we had a couple wonderful meetings with the student from Slovakia. She's just downright cool. We actually are now teaching her in English because her English is so flawless. She's even reading the Book of Mormon in English because she thinks it will be better for her than in Czech... we'll see how it goes. She came to church again, and really likes our services. She said she loves how there isn't just one speaker, such as a priest, but that the different members are able to express their testimonies and experiences with the gospel. Church is so good for people. It lets them see how the church actually works, in practice. If you don't come to church, you won't ever really see what kind of people we are and how we interact and apply the gospel of Jesus Christ. It's difficult to get people to church, because they're scared of something that they're not familiar with, but when they come, they see that it's such a comfortable place, that's just full of light and friendly people who recognize that they are weak, but want to follow their Savior. This week at church, our new convert gave her first talk! It was amazing! We took her to a branch counselor's home to teach her about eternal marriage in the temple, and after the lesson, he asked her if she would prepare something on personal revelation. She spent the whole Saturday night preparing it and she delivered one of the sweetest testimonies on personal revelation that I've ever heard. Everyone was quite touched. In Relief Society, we spoke of temple work, and she also told of a miracle that happened to her this week. She was really excited to start her family history work, as she has a mother and a younger brother who passed away, but she was afraid of asking her family for information, because she wasn't sure how they would react. They don't believe in God at all, and look at it as stupidity, and don't want anything to do with her experience with the Mormons. However, just this weekend, she went to visit some graves with her father. Her father began telling her all sorts of information about her great grandparents as well as other people she had never even heard of. He also told her that her uncle did family history as a hobby, and had done so much work that he had information for their ancestors all the way back to Russia! Her father then said that he knew the Mormons did family history, and since she was hanging out with us, if she ever needed help, she could feel free to ask him for it. She was absolutely elated! I was absolutely elated. After Relief Society, the Relief Society turned to me with a big smile and said about this new convert, "What did you find?" I love you all! the gospel is true! Sister Brimhall