Monday, May 27, 2013

Holy Humbling Experiences!!!

This week was wonderful, and stressful, and jam-packed with REJECTION! Our baptism cancelled at the last minute and she refuses to talk to us, and we found an incredible young mom who wanted to hear all about our message, but her husband was extremely against it. When she told us, I almost burst into tears. What?! Is this missionary work too?! I think the answer is yes. This is a different sort-of heartbreak, because it isn't just me that they're rejecting. IT'S SOMETHING SO MUCH BIGGER AND I PROMISE IT'LL MAKE YOU HAPPY, STOP YELLING AT ME!!! Anyways, it was my first real dose at being utterly rejected, all week. And it's way more sad than that one time that Taylor hit that cat on the way home from a stake dance. Tay, you remember?

Anyways, the funniest thing happened to me this week. I waddled up to this man and stuck out my hand and did my: "Hello!!!! My name is Sister Brooks and......." Before I got another word in, the man smiled, shook my hand, and started talking about Ancient Egyptians. It took me about five minutes to figure out what was going on. He was rattling on about horses and gold necklaces and crickets fighting each other, and it's incredible how some some people honestly don't need to breathe as they talk. I thought of Taylor and was very grateful for all those years he told me history facts I really didn't care about but I had to pretend I did;) SKILLS PUT IN ACTION! For a solid half an hour, I was trying to explain who I was and what I stood for. Finally I got in the word Mormon, and he said he hates religion, but he likes that we do genealogy. So we may do family history with this man, and I will put my listening with love abilities into action once more. It was so strange. People.

Juan is progressing incredibly! Amazingly! The best moment of my whole week was the first time we taught him this week; it was our second lesson ever. The first time he had talked and talked and talked. This time, we walk, sit down, and he says: I want to know, I want to know everything. Please teach me.

He had read the introduction to the Book of Mormon and studied religiously the Restoration pamphlet, and he was like a child on Christmas morning. He said: Man, when I was reading I just got this strange feeling. I felt weak. I feel it whenever I see you girls. I feel really, I dunno, calm or something. I don't understand.

Hearing him describe the Spirit was incredible, and tears came to my eyes. I just smiled and said: Juan, do you know what that is? MY LIFE IS THE BEST!!!!!!

 We also taught our first lesson to a drunk person this week, which was an exciting experience! AND a man tried to give my companion a hug, but he was a little aggressive and extremely crude and I've rarely been so uncomfortable in my life! The words: "SISTER MISSIONARY DROPS 45-YEAR OLD MAN" ran through my head quickly. Before I could get my fists ready, Sister Olsen grabbed me and we peaced for the door. Adventures every day! It's not easy being a sister missionary. People either think you're a nun or try to flirt with you. HELLO?!

This is Brother B. We went to weed his
 garden this week and he offered me a hat.
Don't mind if I do:)

This week was challenging, because at any moment I could get a call from the mission home saying: Pack up, you're headed to Brazil tomorrow. The Lord definitely knows my weaknesses and He is trying to help me make them strengths. It’s hard not knowing when I'm going to Brazil. I'm currently trying to learn how to do missionary work in two languages, and I'm honestly overwhelmed. Last night for the first time since I've been here, I just lost it.

This was me: On the ground in my hoodie and mis-matching socks just crying and saying: I CAN'T DO THIS, THERE IS NO WAY POSSIBLE ON THIS EARTH THAT I CAN GO TO BRAZIL AND I DON'T KNOW WHEN I'M GOING AND I'M SO TIRED OF NOT KNOWING ANYTHING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 My companion was so sweet. She listened and listened and then I got over it and I am ready to take it all on againone day at a time. Who needs to know anything anyway? Certainly not me...

John, the hot yoga-er, is doing wonderful! He is also progressing well. Flora is as sweet as ever. Feeling the Spirit has a way of making you feel at home no matter where you are, and especially this week. I needed it as much as I needed food and water. Because I'm a lost little lamb here! It's amazing how a good lesson with the Spirit changes any rough day to the best one you've ever had.

My new best friends

How can they not make you smile?
This week I talked to a lot of people who are hurting. Suicide and abuse and jail and drugs and my goodness. There was one point where I was sitting in a lesson, an innocent little 20-year-old, listening to this older woman cry and talk about how she just gave up paying a bill so her son could play football. She said: I just want God to hold me. I just want Him to hug me. I've been on my own since I was 12-years-old. And I just sat there and thought to myself: Who I am to tell her what to do? Suddenly any key indicators and any numbers and any lessons taught weren't as important in that moment, and all I wanted to do was love her and help her feel just how much God loved her. This isn't about me. Life is so hard. I don't know why I am so blessed.

Holy humbling experiences. It's so very sad that not everyone knows what I've been so blessed to know! I love missionary work, I do I do I do:) I love my Savior Jesus Christ. He is my best friend, He is my Comforter, and He is the Redeemer of this world. I love the chance I have every day to know Him more.

Well, maybe I'll talk to you all in Brazil next week? Maybe China. I don't know, pray for my sanity:):) I LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH!!!

Sister Brooks 

Monday, May 20, 2013

TODAY will be a miracle!!!

TODAY will be a miracle

Every morning this week as Sister Olsen and I woke up, we looked at each other and would say: "Sister, this day is going to be a miracle." It is absolutely incredible what the Lord will do when you have a little bit of faith. This area hasn't had a baptism in about 8 months, and there is one this weekend and one next weekend, for two sweet women who I have had the priviledge of getting to know:) We found three new investigators this week, which is almost unheard of. And my goodness, they are amazing!

We have John, the Special-Ed Teacher who enjoys hot yoga. I adore him. Hot yoga?

We have Flora, the lovely Latino lady who already wants to be baptized. I asked her on the first lesson about it and she said: "I would love that. Following Jesus and being baptized in His name is exactly what I need." What? FLORA! 

And we have Juan, who is probably the most Christ-like person I've ever met. Here's the story about him: I had to pee. I'm trying to drink more water, because diet coke is bad for you, you know!! So I drag my companion to a gas station and decide to go buy myself a little snack. We finally get back in the car to go tracting again, when up walks a man. He knocks on my window, shakes my hand, and asks me to come teach him because he wants to know about the Mormon church. 

I found that as I believed that every place I went to this week had someone who desperately needed what I had to say, the Lord placed those people in my path.

Never doubt when I have to pee again.

We taught lessons this week like never before. We were running from lesson to lesson to lesson every day, and people wanted to hear what we had to say. It was amazing! I don't understand why getting people to listen is hard on missions, but maybe that's just because I'm new and dumb and still believe everyone is dying to talk to me:) I think I'll keep that attitude for the next 16 months:)

I was so thrilled for the amazing week it was that one night I was doing a little dance in the kitchen as I reported to our district leaders the success and incredible people of the day. In the midst of this little jig, my foot found a nail and lo and behold, a piece of my toe is missing. We're talking it bled through my sock, and everything else it touched. So now I will have a scarred toe due to too much excitment. My district leader liked that story.

Street contacting and tracting is maybe my favorite thing in the world. San Francisco is a world of its own! I tried to communicate with a Spanish lady in Portuguese this week, which was ugly. I did not try to communicate with the Chinese people, but I smiled at them and gave them stuff. I just am in love with talking to people, and I gained a lot of confidence this week through the Lord in being bold. I love introducing myself as a representative of Jesus Christ, and I love just....just listening to their stories. There is always a common denominator, and that's that Jesus Christ is the answer! 

I'm incredibly inspired, everyday, that the Lord saw me as one worthy to talk with others about this message. I feel deeply inadequate. The people I talk to on the street teach me so much, so so so much.

That being said, I had doors slammed in my face this week, and I was rejected very rudely a few times. I decided to think that it is funny.
So every time someone is mean to me, I just smile and smile and ask again if they would like me to do anything for them. Then I smile and smile some more and they are so confused and then I try to sqeeze in the name Jesus Christ before shaking their hand and walking away. I want people to at least associate that wonderful name with a smile from some strange person in a skirt.

One of the most amazing experiences this week was going to an addiction recovery class with a young man we're working on helping. I sat in the back and honestly felt unworthy to be there, because the people who were talking and who were trying to overcome really, really hard things had the most amazing testimonies of the Atonement I have ever heard. I was getting all teary because....goodness, they get it! And the Atonement is for broken people, and it is for them time and time again. 

I learned a little bit more about teaching by the Spirit this week. We were teaching one man who is confused beyond confused about his life, and an exact scripture came to me. I shared it with him and he just about broke down. "Sister Brooks. You don't know how nice it feels to know that. Thank you, thank you, thank you." I'm not smart enough to on-the-spot come up with these things on my own! But the Spirit helped me know what this man needed, and I want to always try to listen.

And one last amazing experience: (honestly, this week was jam-packed with people who came up to us asking if they could be taught, of people calling us "angels" and wanting to be baptized the first time we talked to them, and of simple prayers and testimonies of the most amazing people. The Lord is so good that I can't even put into words how generous He has been to us.) There is a sweet, dear old man who doesn't like anything religious, but he lovesssss when we sing hymns. So we visit him and his wife, and sing them hymns every week and share a message in between. This week, I felt the Spirit so strongly as I bore my testimony straight to him about the Savior. I know he felt it, I just know it. And this Thursday, he agreed to meet us at the church so that I can play the piano for him and sing him church songs. I think something wonderful will happen:)

I had a cute autistic boy this week walk up to me and ask for a business card. I gave him a card and then he got really close to my face and said all slow and with a huge grin: "I'm gonna calll you up, and I'm gonna take youuu out on a DATE!" It was maybe the most darling thing I've ever heard. 

I decided that I love old people, and me and Sister Oleson are going to this lovely old folks home every Wednesday now to paint the ladies nails and chat with them. They all want to know who we are and why we're helping:) There are the cutest women in the world. 

Well, I know that Jesus Christ is the Savoir of the world. I know that so much. I know that He listens to prayers, and probably listens harder to a lot of the prayers the addicts to meth say and the person who is scared to pray says. I feel so blessed to be here:) I love you all. Thanks for being the best best best best. And keep feeding the missionaries.

Monday, May 13, 2013

"Love to Life"

HOLY MOLEY, it has been a week. Oh boy, has it been a week! I got to San Fransisco on Wednesday and the first thing I saw was a cop pulling some guy out of a local McDonalds. Welcome to the Bay, Sister Brooks!
 Right when we landed, I was in love with this place:) One thing I love about it is that even though it's so crammed together everywhere, the people make corners of "beautiful." Even if it's just one rose bush or a tiny tree or a small hand-painted picture, I love that people make beautiful things everywhere! I love these people!

The first day, I thought I might die because I was so tired. Well, I didn't and I got over it and I am still alive and happy as a clam! Me and my new companion, Sister O., drove to our little apartment in Daly City that night and GOT TO WORK! I was assigned to the city. And by the city, I mean the city. We are in San Francisco and it's a little bit exciting! 
The first night at my apartment, there were guys smoking in the garage and they were staring at us and yes, me and my companion ran up the three flights of stairs to our room. I love the city though. It's exciting to tract on streets with every ethnicity and type of person, and to chat with people on the streets. Such interesting stories they have to tell!

The FIRST person I street contacted was a Brazilian women. This happened right after the mission president told me I needed to make sure to study Portuguese daily, because I wouldn't be speaking it at all. PSYCH! I talked and talked with her and invited her to come to church and she said she would love to. We are friends! And she speaks Portuguese! And I don't understand anything! But it's okay!

I also asked someone if he would like to be baptized. Lewis actually got out of prison a week ago. EYE CONTACT KAYLEE. Don't be scared! Prison is no biggie, rightttt???:) He had been reading the Book of Mormon in his cell and knew that it was true. Wow, what, really? So I looked him right in the eye and tried to fake him out into thinking I was a professional at these kinds-of things, and asked him if he would like to come to church with us, and if we could teach him. He said yes. And yesterday, there he was in our little ward, jeans and beard and all, learning about the power of transformation of the Atonoment of Jesus Christ. I know that he felt the Spirit. He wants more and more of it. I'll happily be the conduit between the Spirit and him:) Miracles everywhere these days ladies and gentleman!

I learned something this week. Most people we teach and talk to are doing everything they can to put food on the table and make their family as happy as possible. One non-religious man prayed this week that he could be a better man for his family, another woman told me that whenever she prays, she mostly just tells God "thank you," and another woman asked God so humbly to help her understand what she needs to understand. I'm humbled by their sincerity and touched by their ability to have faith even when life is really hard for them. We were sitting in a lesson the other day with this man rambling on and on about who in the world even knows what, and I admit I had the thought, am I doing ok? Is this what I'm here for? Is this missionary work?

My friends, yes! Yes it is! People all need someone to love them, someone to listen to them, someone to tell them that there is so much HOPE for a better way to live, and most of all, someone to love them and tell them that the very God who created us, He who is over all of us, listens to us and loves us infinitely. My goodness, what a message to share. I learned this week that missionary work is and always will be a whole lot more about being a servant to every person that you meet and loving them the way that Christ did than about getting a number or checking off a lesson taught. I believe that when I have that mentality and I talk to everyone and do my best to be a servant to the most humble, that the Lord will create the teaching opportunity's that we look for and love.

People notice kindness. You know? I made it a goal this week that on my mission, every person I meet I will "love to life." I will just LOVE people to LIFE! Can I hear a "YES PLEASE?!" Our purpose is to bring every person we meet one step closer to God. Maybe in 1000 years I'll figure out how to do this, but for now I'm going to do my best.

There hasn't been a baptism in this area I'm in for about 7 months. 

We have two lined up for May 25th, for the most darling two women:) I'm so thrilled!

Oh my goodness, so much happiness. What good news we have to tell!

Doing a little weeding!

And yes, I did get bit by a dog already and yelled at by two old ladies that I wasn't weeding their garden right. I'm so sorry. Would you like me to to throw this weed at you? Just kidding, quiet dignity Kaylee;)

I love you all, your support means everything and a bag of chips!

Loves loves,
Sister Brooks

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Here I go, Here I go!!!!

Me and my new mission's like Christmas all over again!

So a quick little update on me!!! This week was so fantastic. I leave for San Fransisco in the morning so I am running around today trying to figure out what in the world I am doing!! Here is my miracle of the week:)
Last week, the Branch President asked me to put together a branch choir. He promised me that if I prayerfully picked out a song, the song I picked would be the topic of that Sunday, and that experience alone would be worth the extra week here. I'll be honest, I've been a little stressed about it! It was fast Sunday, and I couldn't really figure out how there would even really be a "topic" that I was supposed to figure out by the Spirit. Well, I scrounged up a version of "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" and bossed around my branch to create a little extra time to practice:) On Sunday, we also had mission conference here at the MTC, (which I have no idea was going to happen.) The MTC President gets up last and his topic was on how Christ is our Rescuer. He went through "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" and explained the meaning that it holds, and even had the entire MTC sing a few lines of it. I was floored. Three hours later, my sweet little choir stood up, the branch presidency got up off the stand and went to sit in the audience because they were so excited, and "Come Thou Fount" was sang so beautifully. It was quite the experience, and I was directing the choir choking back tears because the words had more meaning to me than ever before:

Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by Thy help I've come.
And I hope by Thy good pleasure safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger wandering from the fold of God.
He to rescue me from danger interposed His precious blood.

 The Lord knows what's going on, doesn't He`?

My birthday was probably the best 20th birthday I've ever had!! The sweet sisters in my district planned a 10 minute party for me at night, where they wrapped up all fancy all these gross clothes that were put in the "free bin" on our floor. It was quite the party, and I do adore them all!! 
My new district has been SO kind and SO supportive of me. I was praying last week, because I was feeling a little sad and left behind as my zone left, and the Lord promised me that He would "carry me" through this week. I have felt that. It has been an incredible week for me.

So, I was informed I MIGHT be opening a Portuguese branch in San Fran. Wait what?! This would an experience to say the least! I'm trying to ward off my doubts, such as: "But I don't speak Portuguese." And: "But I don't know anything." AND MOSTLY I'M JUST SO EXCITED!!!!:) Missions for days. 

And one last thing! I've learned something really important since I've been here, and this is it. There is great value in not talking about people, ever. Let's get real. If my flaws and problems were pieces of bread, we could probably feed a city for a week; maybe even a small island. I've just learned since I've been here that there are lots of people going on, and we all have different ways of doing everything. Since I've always been an observant person, I think I've always loved sharing my observations with other people. I've never done it with ill-intent, but I've realized that talking doesn't benefit anyone. So when I notice something about someone, I've kept it to myself. If I'm irritated, I'm working on getting over it rather than making it a big deal. If someone comes to me for advice, I've been working on pointing them to the source rather than becoming a middle-man. Rudyard Kipling said: "If all men count with you, but none too much." I have this new confidence where I truly feel that I have absolutely nothing to prove to anyone, and if they don't like me then I'll be over it in mmmmaybe 3 seconds. I decided to exit the teenage and maybe even adult "talking." (I am 20 now.....;)) I'm not perfect, by any means. But I'm learning to stop before I say something and think: Would I say this in front of anyone? and Will saying this benefit anyone? If I overhear something about someone else, I'm learning to just keep my mouth shut about it. There's great value in not talking. 

So, here I go, here I go! I'm stressed a little bit, and a little overwhelmed, and I am ecstatic about my life as a missionary. Bring on the next:)
I love you all so very much!!
Sister Brooks

Friday, May 3, 2013

California, Here I COME!!!

WHAT'S UP I'M GOING TO OAKLAND/SAN FRANCISCO ON MY MISSION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (until my visa comes and I head to Brazil.) I am so excited. On a scale from 1 to 10 I'm about at a 35. (Don't hurt yourself trying to figure that out.) Seriously though, I got my re-assignment yesterday and I'm SO thrilled. It feels so right and I'm grateful for the chance I've had to stay here. The Lord wanted me here, and now He wants me to go to California. Um, yes. Willingly, happily. It's the best day ever. My new district is so sweet:) All the girls ran to the travel office because I was too nervous, and they were so excited for me that they kept telling everyone all day. I leave next Wednesday morning, and here's what I know:


And by nothing, I mean nothing. Ask me who my new mission president is, orrrrr where I will be living, orrrrrr who I'm going with? I know NOTHING. I've only met one other person who got re-assigned there, which is extremely unusual because generally it's a group of people? So I'm just going to show up where I'm supposed to and follow orders until I show up in San Francisco. I love my mission president already. I can't wait to meet him! I'm going to shake his hand and tell him: "Listen, I'm SO happy I'm here. You don't have to worry one second about me, I'll do whatever it is you need me to do!" And then we'll be best friends!!

Oh, yes! And another thing I don't know is the language in which I will be speaking in 5 days. There are quite a few Spanish branches, and so I might be speaking Spanish. Do I know Spanish? Why, no, I do not! But I can learn. There's also quite a few Chinese wards. That would be a fun little adventure.

These last few days have been simply wonderful. My new districts is so kind. They all have the attitude that I have something so teach them and that's why I'm here, which is very humbling. How can you not love people who are so smart and spiritual and kind, but who treat you like you're the Yoda of missionary work? I know nothing. I don't know what I'm doing. But they don't knowww thatttt yetttt:):):):) Hopefully I can fake it for a few more days!

The first day I was in class with them, I felt prompted to share something I had learned. The Zone Leaders, (in the class,) started freaking out afterwards because they said that something I had said had saved their lives. That night I was chatting with my new companion, (my new best friend,) Sister O. and I said something and she said: Sister Brooks, I can't tell you how many prayers you just answered for me. The next day we taught a lesson and left the room and she just started crying and crying and I asked her what was up and she said: Sister Brooks, I don't know why I feel so confident around you, but I just do!


Yes, I have made new running friends, (naturally.) They told me the yesterday that they thought I needed to stay because of some story I had told them that had been something one of them needed to hear.

I'm not doing anything, honestly. I mean, I'm crying a little bit here and there still, and getting re-assigned to California and having a hard time focusing on anything, but this has been a cool experience for me. I haven't done anything. The Lord has just put me in these places with these wonderful people, and I feel so blessed to be able to talk with people and love people. And I'm grateful that He has let me help a few people as well. MISSIONARY WORK IS THE BESTTTTT.

I love the Lord, I love this work, I love you all, I love the Book of Mormon, I love the food, I love my mom, I love the temple, I love SAN FRANCISCO, I love that I have a bed to sleep in.

Life is good. Talk to you on the flip side.

Sister Brooks