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