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.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Transfers, staying in Prague!

Dear Family and Friends, It is always so good to hear from home. It makes me so happy to hear that my family is so happy. Abby, thank you so much for your email last week and the pictures. I wish I could have written BACK to everyone more on my mission, but know that I love and appreciate every update I get - Diana, thank you for your email! It put big smiles on my face :) I love missionary work. I really, really, really love it. I can hardly describe the feelings I have towards my mission - seeing the gospel at work in it's most beginning stages in a human's soul, and seeing the progress that develops from that time on is.. magical. This week we had transfers! I will be staying as Prague, as I expected, and I am so glad. You never want to leave a city - you start loving the people too much. However, when you are called to transfer, you always find out that there's people in the next city that you'll love just as much. Sister Sears left to go serve in my birthplace of Ceske Budejovice, and she swapped places with Sister Clark, who will be serving here with me! Sister Clark is from Bountiful, Utah, from the same ward as Sister Pysnakova, ha. I was so excited to have her come up, because all I heard about her is that she oozes with love and sincerity. It's true. We were out contacting on the street just yesterday and we stopped a young man who began talking to us. He had all sorts of complicated questions, which were a little above Sister Clark's Czech, so I tried to answer them as best I could. He was super cool, but I didn't think our conversation had led him to be interested enough to learn more. However, Sister Clark jumped in and bore her testimony about how we don't have all the answers now, but when we build a relationship with Heavenly Father through prayer, we can receive the answers and inspiration that we truly need in our lives. I watched his face completely change as he listened to her bear her sweet testimony. When she finished, I asked, "We would love to meet with you. Can we set up something next week?" He turned to me and said, "Yeah.. yeah, I think that would be good." Missionary work is the best.
(Singing and Teaching on the streets of Prague) This week we taught B... a lot of his recent convert lessons. He's going to be receiving the Aaronic Priesthood this Sunday at church, and he's so excited to really help and serve people the best he can with that privilege of the priesthood and with his testimony of Christ. It is by small and simple things that the Lord can make great things come to pass - that is B.... He isn't afraid to tell people he meets, "I believe in Jesus Christ now," whenever he faces any sort of temptation. He is really something. He keeps telling us how much more joyful and peaceful he feels. He says his relationship with his mother has even improved. He even taught a new investigator with some of the elders yesterday. He really wants to serve. I am constantly astounded at the amount of light he came with - you can see Christ in him very clearly. One thing I love about B.... is that he loves the scriptures. When we asked him about his reading earlier this week, he swept his han across his chest and said, smiling, "I just always feel so hot inside when I read the scriptures...that must be the Holy Ghost, right?" Some other big news is that this week we're going to have a special visitor at church. Elder Holland just happens to be passing through Prague, on vacation with his family, so we're going to have the privilege of seeing him at church! I think he's going to be speaking, but I'm not sure. Either way, we're super excited because we've got a good line up of investigators coming this week. We're praying that all goes well! I love this work because it helps people, blesses people, brings joy and meaning into the lives of all. It has that effect because the message is from God, and it is true. It is true - we can build a relationship with God and we have a Savior who showed us the way to true happiness in this life and also in the life to come. I know the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored through the prophet Joseph Smith. I know that for myself because I did the work and read and prayed about it. My testimony is strengthened each day as I see others read and pray as well, and I see how the words of the Book of Mormon and the principles of the restored gospel literally change EVERY sincere seeker's life for the BETTER. When an investigator reads the Book of Mormon, he DOES come closer to God. When they read, they INEVITABLY strengthen their faith in Christ. My mission is proof. This gospel is true, the church is God's one, true church. I am thankful for the opportunity to share that knowledge with others. I love you all, Sestra Lucy Brimhall

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Refreshments are stunning from the sisters!

Dear Family and Friends, It has been such a beautiful, powerful week. I feel like I say that about every week of my mission. It often pains me that I have to try and put it into words in such a short amount of time - I can never do it justice. There were many beautiful moments.. receiving very direct inspiration in prayer for specific investigators, preparing Bronislav for his baptism that happened today, teaching a Russian man who spoke only a few words of Czech and English (I don't know how we did it), teaching lessons with a kind of boldness that can only be mustered when someone's salvation is on the line. Just a couple hours ago, we finished cleaning up from the baptism we had this morning for a young man named B..... Baptisms are very special. His mother and younger sister came in from where they live, an hour away, which made him very happy. I stuck by his mom during the service, and prayed the whole time that she would feel the spirit there. Afterwards, I was able to talk to her a lot while we had refreshments (Baptisms put on by sisters always have stunning refreshments :)). I learned a lot more about him. He came from a life of sadness, and a family life that continues to be plagued by sorrow. From the way he behaves in such a kind and polite manner, Sister Sears and I knew that he must have come from a mother with her head on straight. She was a very kind woman, but you could see that as she spoke about her son, she felt she had not done enough. She felt that she had been a bad mother, and that as a result, her son didn't have the kind of faith or confidence in himself that he ought to have to make something out of himself. First, I told her how impressed we have been with his character, and that we know it could have only come from what was done in the home. The world does not teach such character. I then bore my testimony to this poor mother of the effect the gospel has had on her son. I told her very honestly how shy and closed he was at the beginning, but how he has opened himself up and begun to develop relationships with the members here. He diligently seeks for better work, and diligently studies the gospel. He bore his testimony at the end of the service that prayer truly works. Because of his goodness and prayers, as he was selling these little keychains on the street, two people approached him and offered him job opportunities this week. He now has trainings to attend and interviews at many places. Our lessons with him leading up to the baptism this week have been some of the sweetest moments of my mission. I've felt a kind of love for this young man that just can't be mine. As I prayed last night that all would go well today, Heavenly Father filled my heart with His love for this son of God. There's no sweeter feeling than God's love for His children. I've been able to feel it very often during my mission. This week we have been meeting often with a young man named P..... He's a really incredible, smart, young man that has the greatest sense of humor. He is preparing for baptism in August. However, the lessons have been a bit difficult with him, as we don't feel like he's been opening up to us or really reacting to the lessons we teach. We don't teach these lessons just to teach lessons. Our goal is to help people develop their faith and come closer to Christ. Information about the gospel does nothing for us if we do not apply it in our lives. Remember that! Anway, one night this week, I knelt down in prayer and I asked Heavenly Father what we could do for him. We had planned to teach him about the principle of repentance the next day. As I knelt there, I began to imagine how the lesson would happen, waiting for the spirit to fill in the words that would be said. Very suddenly, the words "forgiveness of others" fell into my head. I almost pushed it aside and kept praying until I realized that I had just received very clear revelation. I wrote it down, and then went to sleep. The next day, Sister Sears and I talked about it and planned a lesson for him with that thought in mind. Oh my, what a special lesson it was. Pavel had just read 1 Nephi 7, which tells a story that very clearly illustrates the principles of repentance and forgiveness. We naturally fell onto the topic, and then I told him we had actually been planning on talking about those things today. "Really?" he said. I told him he didn't need to tell us specifics, but I asked if he had ever been in a situation like Nephi was, where he needed to forgive. "Yes," he said, "Of course." He then began to lay out certain things about his life that have been quite difficult for him, and a large situation in his life right now that has been causing a lot of pain and frustration. He has felt injured by multiple people that are very close to him, and he has been struggling to know how to forgive. I couldn't believe my ears. We didn't know anything about those things. We had no idea. But Pavel's Heavenly Father did. Since that lesson, we have spoke more about the principle of forgiveness. I've realized more and more what a difficult one it is, and it has proved to be difficult for him to accept. However, I know that Heavenly Father loves this young man very much, and that the atonement of Jesus Christ is the healing power that will help him make things right and restore peace into his life. I love this work. I love being here. I love the gospel, which can change people from the inside out, cleanse us from top to bottom, bring us peace that is beyond description. I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior. I know that his gospel has been restored in it's fulness. I know that the words God brought forth in the Book of Mormon can bring powerful peace and understanding into our lives. Love, Sestra Lucy Brimhall P.S. I have wonderful news! The young student who we were teaching in Brno, who was from Bratislava, received her answer this week! She had been hesitating for a long time, but thanks to the inspiration of the sister missionaries in Brno, a chain of other miracles, and very sincere prayer on her

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Baptism in Prague this week

Dear Family and Friends, Ah! It was a beautiful week. Missionary work is the most miraculous, magical work. One day I hope to be able to look back on this time, being able to see the whole picture - every little miracle Heavenly Father performs in the lives of our investigators. About a month ago, we met a young man. He was out selling something on the street, and Sister Sears decided to suddenly contact him. Once I noticed she had stopped walking, I turned back and we spoke with him. He is the most polite, humble young man I have EVER met. When we met him, he was super shy, but desirous to better his life and find out more about God and Jesus Christ. When we first contacted him, he actually said he had seen a Book of Mormon laying around his house a few years ago and had read a few pages out of it when he was bored one day. We told him we'd love to tell him more about it, and we met at the church building a couple days later. From the beginning, he has been an incredible student of the gospel. He began praying for the first time in his life, and reading everything that we gave him. You could SEE the change in him. He started standing up straighter, speaking clearer and more correct, looking cleaner and healthier, and smiling bigger and more often. It was such a rapid, drastic, beautiful change. This week we have been teaching him often, preparing him for his baptismal day. He has completely astounded us with the amount of faith he has grown in the last couple weeks. Once again, I feel like I've done nothing for him but put the scriptures and brochures in front of him, and the Spirit of the Lord did the rest. We taught him about the Word of Wisdom earlier this week, and he accepted it with no hesitation, and even more he understood why we live according to it. At the end of the lesson, I was so touched by his expression of faith, that I complimented him on his strength and diligence, and his incredible example to us. He responded with perfect humility and said, "The only thing that disappoints me is that I didn't meet you earlier, when I was perhaps 18-years-old. I could have been healthier; I could have had even stronger faith now." Ah, what a beautiful moment that was. Sister Sears testified that the Lord must have been preparing him, and now he's ready. Yesterday we had another lesson with him, and he came in saying he had read almost the entire night in the Book of Mormon and a Liahona that we gave him. He just couldn't stop. He's incredible! We said we wanted to talk about what enduring to the end means, and he just erupted with answers: "It means to speak often with God through prayer, keep living the commandments, serve and help others, and be and live as much like Christ as we can, every day of our lives!" There was so much light in his face. After the lesson we went down to the bottom floor of the church to show him the baptismal font and tell him what would happen. The investigator we were going to teach next had showed up right then, so he came down with us. This other investigator accepted a baptismal date this week as well. He's a 23-year-old young man who is studying forestry here in Prague. I sort of led them up to the font, and then quietly explained how the baptism works. It was very still in the room, and B... just stood there with a smile on his face, while P... looked steadily down into the font. I stepped back after a while, and said a little prayer of thanks to Heavenly Father for the opportunity to be able to witness such special moments. Next week, we're going to have a baptism here in Prague! 'Til then! Love, Sister Lucy Brimhall P.S. We have a week and a half until transfers.
We celebrated the 4th of July! This is in the parking lot of the church building. It was great fun. We sang Patriotic songs and ate hamburgers and hotdogs. These pictures are our district hopping on a train to go out to see Karlstejn - a castle that I hear is worth seeing, and the place where the Czech Republic was dedicated for missionary work! It was worth it!

Knowledge of the Savior

Dear Family and Friends, What a wonderful week! It was one of those weeks where I truly felt Heavenly Father teaching me some very important things that will assist me for the rest of my life and for the eternities. I have learned such an incredible amount on my mission. It has been such a profound, dense experience. I'm just so grateful for the blessing to live, and to learn, grow, and have experiences in the context of the gospel. First off.. Father, I would like to say congratulations on the banana growth! It's about time that banana tree gave us some fruit! Make sure to put some in the freezer for me. Very exciting, Dad :) Also, I just want to say Hi to Carla, and tell her I'm thinking about her and she's in my prayers :) I hope she finds the answers she needs and feels Heavenly Father's love. Lastly, I want to thank the friend who sent me a package this week with a large jug of jelly bellys. It has been an immensely entertaining gift for my companion and I, and the Czechs find them truly fascinating! Thank you! Well, the week was just full of wonders. Church last Sunday was just super. We have a young man preparing for baptism in a few weeks and he came to church for thesecond time. He's a pretty shy young man, but this Sunday he actually participated in class, and when he left, he came around and shook everybody's hand and left with the biggest smile on his face. It has been beautiful to see the gospel slowly bring light into his life, and confidence into the way he holds himself. I was also asked to translate for the young women during the third hour. The two teachers are two women from America, who are here with their families, as their husbands work for the embassy. Thus, I tried my best to translate, as half of the young women are from the states and half are Czech. It was so much fun to be back in young womens again - I just love how the church helps young women grow their relationships with Heavenly Father and be a light to those around them. I admire the young women here so very much. They have such high standards in surroundings where the standards have dropped so low. They are beautiful! This week we had the opportunity to go visit some less active members of the church. It was a blessing this week when we found someone who had come to a point in their life when they were actually willing to allow us back into their lives. We found an older man who stopped attending church several years ago. When we knocked on his door, he opened up and happily welcomed us inside. We taught him about the power of the atonement, and the opportunity we have each week to take the sacrament and remember our Savior, Jesus Christ, as well as the covenants we've made with our Father in Heaven. It's unfortunate that we often do not soften our hearts until the Lord brings us very low. This poor man is at a very sad point in his life, and all he desires right now is just a little bit of joy, just a good mood perhaps. I wish we could each better recognize the blessings of the gospel and the worth of holding onto it tight, before we drop into such situations of depression, discontent, and sadness. Can't you just imagine Heavenly Father sitting on high, hoping, wishing, and crying with us? He can see the grand picture, and He tries to reveal it to us, but often we close our eyes, and want to go our own way. The gospel, applied in our lives, is the way to true and lasting happiness. Sister Sears and I saw a good amount of suffering and confusion this week in the lives of many we encountered. It led me to think a lot about the concept of suffering in this life. I've been blessed with a very happy life, and for that I am grateful. But when people ask us all the time on the street, "Why is there so much suffering? How could God exist with all the bad that goes on around us?" I understand why they feel that way. There IS a lot. But through our Savior, Jesus Christ, we can find that peace now, and that HOPE that there is meaning and purpose to our mortal existence, and a great reward waiting for each of us. "Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah..." (2 Nephi 2:8). It's so important that people have that knowledge of their Savior Jesus Christ, and even more, of his restored gospel! We try so hard to bring it to them!This week at our singing display, I went out to talk to people, and it was almost laughable how many times I got shut down in a matter of a minute. It's sad, but as a missionary, you really have to stay happy, so I just sort of laughed and kept opening my mouth. A minute later, however, I talked to a young man who was very interested. We ended up meeting with him that very night, and Sister Sears and I felt something very special from him. He is has been very obviously prepared by Heavenly Father to hear the message. I read these verses this morning, and they describe a bit about how I felt that day, "Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst they brethren...and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success. And now behold, we have come, and been forth amongst them; and we have been patient in our sufferings,and we have suffered every privation; yea, we have traveled from house to house, relying upon the mercis of the world--not upon the mercies of the world alone but upon the mercies of God. And we have entered into their houses and taught them, and we have taught them in their streets; yea, and we have taught them upon their hills...and we have been cast out, and mocked, and spit upon, and smote upon our cheeks; and we have been stoned, and taken and bound with strong cords, and cast into prison; and through the power and wisdom of God we have been delivered again. And we have suffered all this, that perhaps we might be the means of saving some soul; and we supposed that our joy would be full if perhaps we could be the means of saving some" (Alma 26:27-30). My joy is full. And it is worth it. All my love, Sister Lucy Brimhall