Monday, June 24, 2013

Shout out for Missionary Work!!!

This is our darling recent convert teaching me
how to pose like a girl, since
apparently I don't know how!!

This week was SO incredible and I don't even know where to start!! I've never felt as humbled and grateful and privileged as I did listening last night to the worldwide broadcast about missionary work. Missionary work, HOLLAR!!! I was sitting there for all two hours just feeling: "What have I done to deserve the opportunity of serving a mission right now?!" I am so grateful! While I was watching it, I had the clearest vision for a quick second of walking in on my future son, as a little boy, kneeling by his bed praying, and the Lord just let me know how much He needs me to do this so that my kids can be strong in their faith in Jesus Christ. I'm serving a mission for a lot of reasons. But to be a good mother for my future kids in this digressing world is certainly one of the top. 

So, we teach a lot of depressed people; just a lot of people addicted to substances or feeling hopeless or worthless. One of them sent us this HEARTBREAKING text about how he didn't want to see us anymore, because he was never going to change and there was no hope, etc, etc... Well. We showed up on his doorstep the next day. We sat down in the grass in front of his house and I said:

"Listen. We want to keep teaching you, twice a week even. We'll just read the Book of Mormon with you and sing you sunny songs. Please, please let us."

It was quiet for a while and then he said: "Well my gosh, how do you say no?"

SUCCESS ON ALL ACCOUNTS!!! After we taught him, he shook my hand and said: I really appreciate your tenacity. I was so thrilled. It's not every day you get called tenacious.

Our investigators are probably the coolest in the nation. John is such a gem, I just am humbled and inspired by his progress. He came to a Book of Mormon class our ward does on Tuesday night, and ATE it up. He was asking questions and being fellowshipped and is coming again this week. He is eager to learn everything we teach him, and he is reading more of the Book of Mormon than we even ask him to! I don't know if I ever mentioned this, but John was actually the first person who my companion had me practice "7 principles of finding" on. My very first! He was walking his dog and Sister Olsen nodded her head and told me to go start teaching. Seven weeks ago, John didn't even know who God was or if he believed in much of anything. 

Oh I wish you could hear his prayers now. "Heavenly Father. Thank you for sending your servants to me, to help me understand..."

He called us a few days ago to tell us about what he learned about redemption from 2 Nephi 31. I know he will be baptized, and I know it will be soon. He is the sweetest, most humble man I've ever met.

I just want to take Adam and give him the world. He reads the Book of Mormon with his other foster friends and tells them to pray because "it's so cool and you'll have this awesome warm feeling in your heart..." We taught him and Esther the Plan of Salvation this week and they loved it. Esther is so sassy. She doesn't let her wall down, EXCEPT when it comes to music. She is obsessed with the song "I am a Child of God." We sing it to her a lot:) The hard thing about this situation is that Adam can't come to church unless he gets special permission from his social worker, or his guardian comes. (She doesn't want to.) We have been praying for a miracle--that the social worker will make an exception so that he can come to church, because he wants to.

We are teaching Edna again! This week she said she wanted to start actually praying about the Book of Mormon; that maybe it's time for her to know. She said she would tell us when she's ready, when she knows. I just know the Lord will answer her! Oh excitement!!

People have the funniest excuses as they slam the door. (We've been visiting a LOT of less active members this week, and lots of them are bitter and less than happy to see us on their porches.) One of my favorites this week was: "I HAVE A 2 YEAR OLD I CAN'T BE INTERESTED!!!" SLAM! Wait what?

My district doing lunch on P-day
So last P-day our entire district played soccer and my lovely companion completely destroyed this elder. Took him out. He was bleeding and his ear is now huge and black. I was dyingggggg laughing. 

I love my companion:)She has wanted a certain type of food for the last 9 months, but no one will make it because it's hard to make! I coordinated with a really good cook in our ward, and tomorrow night I'm surprising her with it. Hehehe!

Well, that's my little update. This week really was marvelous. We had some people show up at church yesterday who hadn't in months. We saw serious improvement in almost every family we visited--from deciding to pay tithing to deciding to read the Book of Mormon to deciding to pray to feel comfort to deciding to go to the temple:) People are so cool. Oh, and we are teaching a family of 6 who all love the gospel!!!! Cutest kids in the world. The little 5 year old Philippino taught me karate moves last time we went after the lesson. I'm so excited for them:):)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true, through and through and through. I love it; I love that through Christ's power, people are enabled to change. I can't even describe the joy that comes from witnessing it, and also feeling it in myself. I know that the Savior lives, and I know that He is working along side me, as well as everyone who is striving to share his good news. Keep it up and I love you!!

Sister Brooks

PS. Paul called us and may soon be turning into my first mission stalker. YES.

These are definitely bullet holes!
No worries MOM:)

Monday, June 17, 2013

Life Made!!!

I'm hoping missionaries are allowed to be sassy. Because I sure was this

 We have been teaching a man; for privacy's sake we'll call him Paul. We visited Paul a few days ago, and he has been reading up on his anti-mormon literature. Or something. He started getting heated about it all, and everyone else in the room was getting fired up as well. He started standing up and kinda yelling, telling us that we were sweet innocent girls being led by false prophets. Then followed all the reasons why we were wrong and we were completely and entirely brainwashed.


I'm watching this unfold quietly in the corner. The people I came with were getting mad and defensive and he had all these strange facts up his sleeves. I decided to step in. Cutting everyone off, this is what I said:

"Paul. We did not come here to argue, nor will we argue.

I am an intelligent 20 year-old woman and I have been through difficult things in my life that have led me to my knees. I have asked God about the book that you are holding in your hands and I know without a doubt that it is true. It is good, and pure. And that knowledge is more important--infinitely more important--than anything your TV tells you and anything you will ever read. I also know that one day we will be held accountable for what we do or don't do in this life. I would advise you to go to God and ask Him, because I know that He is the source of all truth, and more powerful than all. As for now, we are going to leave. May I please leave you with a prayer?"

HAHAHA KAYLEE, WHERE DID THAT COME FROM?!? I was a little shocked at myself. Then I said a really long prayer blessing our friend Paul and his lovely house:) It was an interesting experience. I don't really mind telling people how I feel. Apparently.

This week I had the most powerful experience with an investigator, and my life is made. LIFE MADE. We are teaching 2 darling foster kids that we found, Adam (11) and Esther (17). We taught them the restoration, and Adam had read everything we asked him to out of the Book of Mormon and more. He had highlighted things he liked. What a star. I want like 12 of him to teach. We taught the lesson and discussed some things and got a feel for where they were at, and then closed with a prayer. Right after the prayer I felt prompted to ask Adam a question:

"Adam have you prayed about the Book of Mormon?"

"Yeah, I have."

"And how did you feel?"

"I felt good. I felt...I felt this warm tingly feeling. I felt it....right here," (he touched his heart and looked up at me.) 

Oh my gosh, the Spirit in that room. Here is a boy living in a strange house who didn't believe in God three days before. Has never prayed before in his life. I'm just grinning like an idiot and choking down tears when he said:

"Do I need to keep praying about the Book of Mormon if I already got an answer?" 

"Adam, is it true?"

"Yes. Yes, I think so."

I smiled again. "Yeah Adam, it is." 

MISSIONARY WORK IS THE BEST THING EVER. I'm obsessed. I can't even describe how grateful I was as I left his house. Goodness, just grateful for how much the Lord loves all His children, and grateful that He allowed a child to feel the Spirit when he asked honestly. I asked Adam if he wanted to be baptized. If we can get all the legal stuff worked out, I know he will be in the next few weeks:) I wish I had that kind of humility.

John tried to drop us this week. Don't worry, we had none of it! Sister Olsen and I had one of the most powerful lessons with him as he told us all the reasons he can't be mormon and we listened really, really hard.

 There was a lot of silence in that lesson, which I know was better than anything we could have said. Sister Olsen was prompted to a scripture. We had him read it to us and after it, both Sister Olsen and I were constrained from speaking. It was quiet for a long while and finally he said: "Wow. That is beautiful."

He told us he would start actually praying about what we were teaching, and that he would keep reading. It was incredible to see his heart soften over the course of the 45 minutes we were there. I was praying very hard for a miracle:) And look! A miracle!

I played soccer with some kids in the middle of a street this week in downtown San Fran:) And kept kicking off my blasted dress shoe. People listen better if you can relate to them. You know? 

I have never experienced such strong empathy for people like I did this last week. I DON'T EVEN KNOW YOU, and yet I am more invested in you than anything I've ever been invested in. It's awful, but I love it all at the same time. 

I had a fantastic week:) I love the power of change through the Atonement, and I know it is real:)

I LOVE YOU ALL!:):):):)

Sister Brooks 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

I Love These People!!!

This is my wonderful zone....most of them speak Chinese!!!

So Sister Olsen and I were asked to conduct "Singing Time" in primary to give the leader a break. I asked  the choir lady what exactly she wanted me to teach, and she started going on about vowel shapes in "I am a Child of God," and dipthongs in "I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus." So there I am on Sunday in front of a bunch of little kids, trying to get them to end their word with a "T" at the exact right time. I didn't even know what a T was when I was five. We don't mess around in San Francisco primary. 

My week was fantastic and the most humbling I've ever had. I have been learning, one step at a time, (just like Jordin Sparks says!)  what it really means to trust the Lord. It is not an easy thing, but He is teaching me that is the better way.

Loving San Francisco
I was told last Wednesday that sometimes the visa dots on the website are off, and also that Brazil only transfers on transfer days. So if I didn't receive my visa by this Tuesday, I would be here for another 7 weeks. Alas, the visa is not here and I'm in San Fran for another transfer:)
 My prayers have changed from asking about my visa to asking Him to give me the strength to do the best I can TODAY and then to accept His will. I like to think I know best:) He's teaching me I don't at all. Rollin with the punches these days. You know? I'm SO grateful for the chance I have to learn these lessons about giving up control to the Lord, because it is hard sometimes. I love that He is working with my weaknesses to help me be better.

One thing is for dang certain. I love these people, my goodness I do I do. Any mission is wonderful when you just talk to people:) 

Sister Olsen and I have been so busy and it is so wonderfully fun:) I was like a little kid on Saturday night. I was just SO excited that I couldn't fall asleep, thinking about church the next day and just hoping with all my heart these people we've been teaching would come!

I can't even describe how I felt when John pulled up in his little white car wearing a button down shirt. I didn't know I could get so excited about these type of things, but honestly I was so happy to see him I could hardly contain myself!!! Juan is coming this next week, and we continue to teach both of them, and I just KNOW that they feel the Spirit and they love it.

I went on exchanges to a Spanish area on Saturday, and had a great time:) Sister Hewitt and I were bound and determined to teach a recent convert named Rual, but we could not for the life of us find a woman to come with us! So we said a prayer and came up with this little idea:

Let's knock on random doors and ask whoever answers to come teach with us! It was hysterical. This woman named Debrah answers the door and is totally game for "TALKIN BOUT JESUS" so Sister Hewitt, Debrah and I taught Rual a lesson sitting on the cement outside because we couldn't find another place! Oh you should have heard Debrah preaching to him! PRAISE THE LORDDD!!!! We got her information and Sister Hewitt and her companion are going to go teach her:):)

Sharing some Smiles:):):)
This week I made a goal to talk to absolutely everyone. We have been running like crazy from one lesson to another, and one night in particular we were running late, legitimately sprinting in our skirts, and I passed 3 young men. I ran past them without even thinking and then thought: "OH MY GOSH. THEY ARE PEOPLE!! I HAVE TO TALK TO EVERYONE!" So I zoomed around and gave them cards and bore my testimony real quick about how wonderful "" is, and waved like a crazy person as I ran off with my scriptures in one hand, purse in another, and pass-along cards maybe in my mouth or something? I need to work on the whole being professional thing. 

I got to go to the temple this morning and I decided that I could go for living there:) The temple is a place of power, and I want everyone in the world to experience the peace it brings. It's unlike anything else. 

Anyways, I love this church and I love San Francisco and I LOVE YOU ALL MORE THAN ANYTHING!!!! Keep on praying for missionary experiences...Jesus Christ changes lives:)

Loves loves loves,

Sister Brooks:) 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Give an Inch, Take a Yard!!!

This week I learned something SO amazing and wonderful about life!!! You give an inch, the Lord gives you back a yard. More like a football field. And it is incredible to watch, especially with investigators. They say one tiny prayer in faith, and the Lord rewards them 100 times more. They read one chapter of the Book of Mormon, and they see a miracle in their life. I've started to notice that in my own life too...the Lord is SO kind to us.

I had a lovely week:) I am still in San Francisco, yes. No idea when I'll be in Brazil. But it's all good, I like not knowing anything ever;) We had a baptism this week, my very first baptism!!! Chelsey was baptized on Saturday, and it was beautiful and wonderful and I am so happy for her. Before the baptism, Sister Olsen and I went to the church early to set up the room and I naturally sat down at the piano and started playing and singing:) About 2 minutes later, this ancient man sits up in the very back of the room and hollers:


HAHAHA WHAT?!?!?! First off, why are you laying flat on the ground in the back of a primary room at 4 o'clock on a Saturday?! Second off, no seriously why are you?

These questions remained unanswered and we apologized quickly for interrupting his nap and moved camp elsewhere.

The rest of the baptism experience was great though. Chelsey is a cutie 20 year old dancer going to college here, and the Spirit was there at her baptism. I am just so happy for her because I know she will feel a bit closer to heaven with the gift of the Holy Ghost and the ordinance of baptism accomplished. And after the baptism, there was a WHOLE meal going on...chili, rice, cake, cookies, drinks, cornbread. If there's one thing in this life I can do, it is coordinating food for parties.

Indeed, it is a beautiful day!!!

Every day I sing

 "Oh what a beautiful morning! 
Oh what a beautiful day!!!!!! 
I've got a wonderful feeeeelingggg
 everything's goin my way!!!!!"

 I just feel like it's a good habit to be in for your whole life. You know?

I learned this week the power and importance of talking to God, reallyyyy talking to God, every morning. I started this week to make my morning prayers more meaningful. Prayer is the coolest thing ever, because honestly it rarely changes things physically, especially in the moment you're praying. But I stand up from praying and just feel so much better! It has become really important to me to pray hard in the morning about the day ahead of me. I would be a lost little thing in this world without prayer. I so badly wish that everyone would make it a priority. Life is so busy and most people Sister Olsen and I visit just forget or don't make time! And goodness, there is so much joy that comes from just taking a second to even thank Heavenly Father for something small. (The inch-yard thing again!) The Lord doesn't ask us to do huge things generally. Just like Elisha asked Namaan to wash in the river 7 times, (not a hard act, right?) we are asked to pray and study the scriptures, which really is a small little thing. We do it and we're blessed and healed from all the tough stuff of life:)

John is doing so great! His interest in the Book of Mormon has been very sparked, and in part because we came to clean his classroom for this week because he was very busy. I think that lots of times, helping somebody makes them even more interested in what you have to say:) He has been reading the scriptures and his prayers are simple and powerful. I'm a little sad because his hot yoga class is over, and that was kinda a fun little thing to ask him about. Regardless. John is faring well, and I love him.

Juan is still the greatest. He also is keeping his commitments and progressing well. He is such a wonderful person, and now the challenge is helping him see why he needs this, not just kinda maybe wants it. If the Spirit is there powerfully enough, he'll know. We just have to work to get it there!

There are crazy people in this town, yes there are. I love them so much! Walking around is an adventure:)

I promised this man yesterday that if he paid his tithing, his full tithing, he would see an incredible miracle in his life. He is not wealthy at all and is trying to support his family and hasn't paid the full tithe in forever, and for some reason it was a little bit of a hard thing for me to ask him to do. I think because I have been so blessed my whole life and I would rather pay his tithing for him. It doesn't really work like that though:) So I looked him right in the eye and promised him that something amazing would happen, and after a long time in silence he said that he would do it. I'm SO excited to see the Lord work miracles in his life because of obedience.

Testifying of the Savior makes any bad day good. I love missionary work, I love member missionaries, I love the Book of Mormon, and oh I love Jesus Christ.

Make this week the best week ever, I love you all!

Sister Brooks:)
My friend from Brazil!!! 
Another Awkward Family Photo!!!