Monday, November 12, 2012

A family in Slovakia....

My Dear Family and Friends, A few weeks ago, Sister Izatt and I were contacting out in the city center, and I looked down an alleyway and said, "Sister Izatt, what's down there?" She didn't reply, because she whipped to the side and yelled, "Excuse me!" to a man that had just passed. I turned, knowing what she was up to, and we began to introduce ourselves as missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was a very sharp-looking man, a family man, a good, faithful Catholic. The contact was short, as he responded to our offer to visit very positively, and said, "Perhaps you can come over tomorrow! I think it would be good for the kids. I'll talk to my wife about it tonight." The next day we called, and they said that indeed, we could come over. The husband came to pick us up in his car, and we brought Sister Nye along with us. We found out quickly, as he spoke to Sister Nye, that the husband speaks flawless English and is a very, very educated man. He took us up to his home, which he built himself, passing the chapel his family attends, which he also helped build. When we walked in, we saw a family of 5 beautiful children, and his wife, who was just as beautiful. You could feel the Spirit of the Lord in that home - they were truly a family built on principles of the gospel. The father had us sit on the couch, and he pulled up chairs for his entire family to sit down. He introduced us to his children, saying, "Children, these are the Mormons. We don't know anything about them, and so we are going to listen to their message today so we can learn some more." They all sat reverently and willingly. (I was, at that time, praying my HEART out that the Spirit would come into our minds and our mouths, that we might teach the beautiful message of the restoration with the power and spirit that the message and the family deserves!) We began with prayer, and the lesson began. We taught them about God, about prophets, about the ministry of Jesus Christ. We spoke of the great apostasy, and the repercussions of that time of darkness. Sister Izatt beautifully told the story of Joseph Smith, and I told them about the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ. Sister Nye bore her testimony in English as the father translated for the family. The most special moment of the lesson was when the husband leaned back in his chair, so overwhelmed by what we had just told him. He said over and over again, "I've never heard anything about this..." His wife leaned over during another time in the lesson, and said, "I feel something," as she wiped a tear from her eyes. That lesson with that family was one of the most incredible, spiritual moments of my entire mission. I felt so privileged to be a part of it. We left them with a Book of Mormon, and the wife was espeically excited to read. We will be returning to their home again this Friday, to continue to share the message with this beautiful family. I'll tell you what happens, when I see you next :) I have now come to the end of my journey as a full-time missionary of the Lord. However, I find great joy in the fact that the work load does not go down when I return. I love working for the Lord! It is the greatest work, and He is the most wonderful leader, example, and counselor. I love all the spiritual adventures misssionary work has allowed me to have. I have learned how precious and fragile my testimony is on my mission. I have learned how to take care of it, and tend to it. I have learned that there are times where you can hit plateaus with your testimony. I have learned that the Lord will allow you to feel forsaken for periods of time, so that you may make the difficult decision of whether you will turn away, or continue to feel through the dark, so that you may reach Him again,and find that light switch. A lesson I am very grateful for: I have learned what a testimony is made of, and what it is not made of. I have learned that I DO have a testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I have learned that it has the ability to fade and sometimes disappear. I have learned that I can never take it for granted. I will work on it every day for the rest of my being, because I have learned what it truly means to ENDURE TO THE END as a true disciple of Jesus Christ. Love, Sestra Lucy Brimhall

Monday, November 5, 2012

Katarina

Dear Family and Friends, As our Relief Society president said yesterday during our small Relief Society gathering, "We are writing new history in Banska Bystrica!" This week was full of progress. One thing we spent some time on as missionaries and members was renovating and dejunking our church building. It was just full of junk and unused furniture. One day I expressed that we could be using all this stuff so much more effectively! That began a whirlwind of brainstorming with Sister Izatt and I, and by the end of the week, we had completely beautified and Mormonized our Banska Bystrica church building. We're quite proud of it. The other more important addition is our new member Sestra Katarina! The week leading up to her baptism went well. She accepted the final commandments well, including tithing, and she had her interview on Wednesday. By Wednesday she was ready! I always think the interview days are the best days, because went they come out of that meeting with the district leader, you know they have just born their testimony of the restored gospel to a representative of the Lord, and yet another one has joined the ranks of the Latter-day Saints. After that significant interview, comes the planning of the baptismal service and the actual ordinances themselves. We had the service at a hotel in the city, which has a nice indoor pool. It's not as great as having a font in our nice, clean church buildings, but it works alright. We had a whole GROUP of investigators show up! Many of them had never seen a baptism before. The service went well, and the talks by our members were wonderful. Elder Nye, the senior missionary, baptized her in Slovak! After the service, we all took a bus or cars back to the church building to have cakes and banana bread. Katarina and Sestra Dobiasova had made a beautiful set up beforehand and it was really pleasant. My favorite part about the whole experience is how close Katarina and Sestra Dobiasova are. We know she will be taken care of, and she feels like a part of our family here. I also heard Katarina talking to the Elders; investigator (who should be baptized in a couple weeks) about his concerns. He's not sure if he has the strength to keep the commandments, and he asked specifically about attending church every Sunday to keep the Sabbath day holy. "What if you have other errands and things you need to attend to at that time? What if things come up?" he asked. Katarina simply responded, "Those things will take care of themselves another way. We just need to come to church and keep the commandment." That is truth! The Lord provides a way when we keep the commandments He has given us. On Sunday Katarina was confirmed by one of the younger missionaries, and now she is a member of our branch!! This coming weekend we have district conference in Brno, so half of the Czech Republic and all of Slovakia will be traveling up there for church, and Katarina will be coming with us. I'm excited for her to be among so many saints, and to receive the strength and encouragement she needs to go forth, serve, and endure. We were very blessed this week with miracles and new investigators as well! The work is looking good, and we are happy. Last night was the first time I think that it really hit me how soon the end of my mission will be here. I knelt and prayed for a long time to my Heavenly Father, thanking him for what I have seen, and the people I have grown to love. As I knelt there, memories flooded my mind of Heavenly Father's little manifestations of love for His children. I know He knows each one of us, and I know He loves us. I love you, Sestra Lucy Brimhall