Saturday, May 24, 2014

Transfer 6 week 2

"Family, Friends and Peers-" (Elder Kunzler, you read my mind)

Well this week has been a full one! Full of finding, teaching, and more finding. We have tried to establish a good teaching pool, and that means continually finding. We have taken every tour we can and have looked for every opportunity to teach on the Square.
This week we had an amazing mission tour by Elder Clarke. He is a very inspired man. He gave our last mission tour (an 8 hour training) and he shared almost the exact same thing he did last time. But boy am I grateful he did! It's like the scriptures, no matter how many times you read or hear it, you always get something new out of it. This week I want to study and ponder more on the things he shared with us, and I will give you a outline next week.
Just yesterday we had a very unique and spiritual tour. We were walking on the Square when someone approached us, it is none other than Cody, the guy I sat next to at general conference! He asked us to take him on a tour, and we happily obliged. We began at the Temple model, where he simply touched the glass, closed his eyes, and meditated. Peaceful moment for him. We then headed toward the North Visitors center, passing many people along the way. But one person caught his attention, a lady sitting in the grass with a beautiful baby. He quickly knelt down next to her, put his hand on her shoulder and told her "Never lose hope..." God's plan for his family was the next destination. Before he would watch it, he wanted to read "The Family Proclamation" and his Patriarchal blessing. So we waited... and waited, until he was finished reading. Upon entering the video presentation, he quickly knelt directly in front of the televisions, dismissing the seats. As we moved from room to room, we continued to sit or stand directly in front of the tv, "to get the full effect." When the presentation was finished, he turned around with tear filled eyes. We sat outside that video for almost 40 minutes, helping him to greater understand his purpose in life. Which concluded with him saying "You both wouldn't know this, but you just answered something in my patriarchal blessing." We wanted to end at the Christus. He said that he had never been to the Christus because he had never felt ready to see it; "I am ready now." We had him close his eyes, and we guided him to the feet of the Savior. Upon opening his eyes, he again fell to his knees. We played the audio of the Saviors words. Now the spirit was so strong, and I felt the impression to go sit next to him as it concluded. Well I did, and as I did, he directly stood up! So there I sit, alone, in front of the Savior and about 50 people behind me... this moment wasn't awkward at all for me. But we all shared our testimonies of the Savior with each other, and he then entered the Temple to do baptisms.
Looking back at this experience, it was one of the funniest and most spirit filled tours I've ever taken. Although his ways of worship are not like most, they were done with such sincerity. He has felt the Saviors love in his life! And he does not let anything come in the way of that. He is a great example to me. There were many times in my life where I let things come in the way of the Gospel. Where I let worldly influences sway my decisions or my appearance. But "It is impossible to stand upright when one plants his roots in the shifting sands of popular opinion and approval." (President Monson). How many times in life do we let the world sway our decisions? Is it really that strange that someone would meditate over the Temple? Or want to help a random stranger regain hope? Or fall to their knees to worship our Savior? No, it's really not. But the shifting sand of popular opinions are swaying our decisions and perspective.
I will not let my testimony or witness of the Saviors reality and love be swayed by the world. I know that this is his true gospel on the Earth, and that through it, we can be together with our families forever. There is NOTHING that I would let get in the way of that. Family is everything to me. That is how I most strongly feel my Saviors love. This Gospel is true. Families are forever. And I get to share this message with everyone. I am truly blessed!
That's all for me this week. I love you all and hope you have a great week!

Sister Brock

Monday, May 19, 2014

Transfer 6 week 1

Well, first of all, can I just say how weird it was to write transfer 6? We serve for 12 transfers, and 6 just seems way too old..

This week has been absolutely crazy. We had transfer conference, transfer day, and a bunch of things we needed to do BEFORE both of those days. So we have been in high gear this week, which is great!
Now let me tell you a little bit about how transfer conference day goes: The Monday before transfers we all get to our zone meeting spots at 7:00am. And our zone leaders go one by one and tell us what zone we're in, what our assignment is, where we will live, who our district leader is, and the most anticipated, who our companion is. And then a whole lot of screaming, crying, and jumping hugs happen. Now President Poulsen had been a mission president in South Africa before, with mostly Elders. So he was pretty scared his first transfer conference! The week building up to transfer conference you can feel the anxiety in the air, everyone wondering who their next companion/assignment will be. Thankfully for me, I already knew what I would be doing because I was in the office. So my companion and I came exactly at 7:00 and everyone yelled at us because they had apparently been waiting for 15 minutes. Everyone seems to actually be on time on transfer conference day... hmm.. So this transfer I am training. And it seems a lot scarier than it really is, because these sisters who come here, they truly are pre-trained. My companion is amazing! I'll tell you more about her later in this email.
Now for transfer day: Wednesday most sisters wake up super early to finish packing and moving, and since I moved to the celestial apartments again, I was one of those sisters. But can I just say, it was totally worth it. My apartment is AMAZING! That morning I got to go pick up one of my best friends, Sister Gee, from the airport! She just finished her outbound in Las Vegas! She is back and is now the Temple Square Coordinator, so she's in charge of all tours here. Shortly after that the new sisters arrived, and we got paired up with our trainees. They first pull up the trainees and the APs describe the trainer. Well as soon as Sister Ordonez said that she served in this trainers YSA ward, I jumped up and screamed! Well lets just say this wasn't a great first impression for my trainee... she was kind of scared. My companion is Sister Rangel (pronounced Han-zhel), from Brasilia, Brazil. She is a supermodel. Seriously! We just are on Square this transfer for our assignment and every guy stops us to talk to us... this never happens. She's a Brazilian babe, what can I say? She is actually 5 years older than me though. So she is a rock star, I love her so much already.
This week we have found so much success! And it came because of 2 things; the spirit and hard work. Sister Rangel and I have taken every tour, no matter the sacrifice, and we are doing everything we can to listen to and follow the promptings of the spirit. Yes, some people are just completely not interested. But I know that those contacts or those tours are not wasted. Because it is absolutely impossible to leave Temple Square without something inside of you changing. I can testify of that! But we also have been blessed to find a lot of people who are ready and prepared to hear the Gospel. I was nervous for the beginning of this transfer because my companion was coming from the MTC so my teaching pool was getting cut in half. But, to my happy surprise, she came already with 10 investigators! She was very diligent in the teaching center training in the MTC and took every chat and call. And we have found SO many new investigators in just these last 3 days, its amazing! I know that we will have a great amount of success together these next 2 transfers.
Last night we took an English Motorcoach of 20 people. They were from Hong Kong, Philippians, Georgia and Vanuatu. This was partially mission illegal because I found out after that we can't take motorcoaches until Sister Rangel passes off to be able to take big tours... whoops. Well we got a bunch of golden new investigators so it's worth it. We can only take large group tours to certain places on Temple Square. So we took them first to the Handcart monument and talked about the pioneers, then took them to the Assembly hall and talked about what it is like at church, then took them on the Temple Grounds and talked about the Temple. Then one of the guys from Hong Kong asked us what the book was in our hands. Made me feel a little stupid not having used the Book of Mormon yet in our tour. But we sat our group of 20 people down on the steps of the Temple, and we taught them the Restoration. Wow. Not an experience you get all the time, teaching people from ALL over the world about the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ on the front steps of the Temple. The spirit was so strong, and I know that they felt it. Almost everyone of them came up to us afterwards and asked if they could have a Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is real. It is true. And it is another testament of Jesus Christ. It helps us to know the reality of our Savior Jesus Christ, and to better understand his gospel and his teachings. And I know that as each of us read the Book of Mormon, those things will be confirmed to us by the Spirit.
We had another great tour this week with an elderly couple. They were visiting from North Carolina and were on a road trip. We had already taken them to 3 places, which is what we normally do, but we felt impressed to take them to another. We took them to Gods plan, a short video that is so powerful. It is my absolute favorite place here on Temple Square (other than the actual Temple of course). I went in not fully expecting what would happen, I had invited them to watch the movie before it processed in my mind. So I think we were both shocked! But I know that it was because it was the spirit working through me. We got to the end of the video and the elderly lady was sobbing. She was trying to whisper to her husband (but she was very hard of hearing so we could all hear her) and she leans in and asks through her tears "Can we please go to the Mormon church?" He replies with a stern "No." (He's atheist) And she said "Pleasssse? Why not? You only think about the bad things in churches, but there are so many good things in this church. And I want to be with you forever." He then tearfully agreed. We didn't do anything for that to happen. It was the spirit, they had felt the spirit confirm of the truthfulness of eternal families. They will be going to church this Sunday!
This work is like none other. We see miracles everyday! Some people say we pay a big price to come on our missions. Yes, we do make a lot of sacrifices; start school a little bit later, volunteer 18-24 months of our lives. But we are getting a front row seat to seeing miracles happen. To see people accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ and in turn work towards eternal life. This is true, eternal happiness! And no sacrifice is too great for true, eternal happiness.

I love this Gospel, and I love my mission.
I will be on again possibly for another half an hour this evening. So feel free to email me back!

Sister Gretchen Brock

Transfer 5, Week 6

First off, a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my lovely Sister, Alli. 22 already! I love you!

Quote of the week: "Sister Brock, you are the April of my eyes." -Sister Chen from Taiwan <3

Last week for P-day my zone went to the Bees game, that was pretty fun. Felt so weird doing something completely not related to missionary work. But lots of people were asking us questions, so it was easy to do missionary work. We got to see about half the game before we left home for planning, and surprisingly I made it home alive! Because for some reason, I always forget to turn my headlights on in our car... so we drove in the dark with no lights on. I still don't understand how I do that almost every time. Good thing we're being watched over from above!
Sunday we got the opportunity to go to Amir's confirmation!!! Hopefully you all read the story last week about how we found out he was getting baptized... and then you'll know how fired up I was. Both with excitement and anger towards his Elders who baptized him without me there. Well I went there fully expecting that I'd have to restrain myself, but there was no need. I didn't feel anything but complete love and contentment. I knew that it didn't matter if I was at his baptism, but I am glad that I was able to be there for his confirmation. Amir is amazing, he has made such an impact on my mission and my life. He has such great faith! Becoming a member of the church means that he will never be able to go back to his home country, Iran, but he also knows that this is the true church. And he was willing to sacrifice anything to be apart of it! Sunday was such a special day.
I went on a few Mandarin Motor-coaches (motor-coaches are tour groups over 50 people) this week! My first one I was on exchanges with Sister Wu from China, and they all just wanted to take pictures of me... but with my blonde hair I got 8 people to refer! Seriously, I don't know what it is about Asians and blondes... all the Sisters here beg me to go on Mandarin Motor-coaches with them because I am exactly what Asians love; Blonde, tall, skinny, and very white! And just yesterday we took another one and our group went crazy when I sang 'I am a Child of God" in Mandarin. I feel like a celebrity sometimes. It's awesome.
This week we have been trying to get everything ready for this upcoming transfer! We will have 200 sisters in the mission and we need to figure out the companionship's, apartments, zones/districts and assignments! We finally got it all together today, and are almost ready for next transfer! I can't say yet what I am doing next transfer, but I can tell you that I will have the same P-day! Woo. Excited about that one. But next transfer is going to be great, I am very excited!
Today I was re-reading through Elder Oaks talk in Priesthood session, entitled "The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood." And something that has always stuck out to me had a deeper and more personal meaning today. It was just last night that I found out what I will be doing next transfer. I am very excited, but in some ways also sad, because I will no longer be in the office. Which means that I won't be in the circle of trust won't have special privileges or opportunities, and I won't be in the loop. But this line that really struck a cord with me today was "We do not 'step down' when we are released, and we do not 'step up' when we are called. There is no 'up or down' in the service of the Lord. There is only 'forward or backward.'" I don't want to move backwards just because I feel like I've stepped down from a big assignment. I want to move forward because I know that the Lord has a great plan and purpose for me. I know that I was supposed to come here to Temple Square on my mission, it has been confirmed to me continuously throughout my mission. I know I was supposed to be an OA because it helped me become a MUCH better teacher. I have greater purpose and understanding of how I can help my investigators come closer to Jesus Christ.
Many times throughout my mission, and especially this week, I have been asked why I chose to be a member of the church. And there are several factors! But the biggest one being happiness. This Gospel is the ultimate source of my happiness. Everything that I greatly value and cherish comes because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Family is the utmost important thing to me, and because of this Gospel, my family has been brought together. We have been able to overcome conflict, adversity, and challenges that we face. In the church we are taught that we were put into a family to help support and love us, and that is exactly what I feel in my family. I am so glad that my family is together in this life, and will be together in the next.
I love you all! And I look forward to calling my family this Sunday for mothers day!

Sister Brock

Monday, May 5, 2014

Transfer 5 week 5

Well this week we had some pretty cool things happened! 

To start off, on Sunday night we had an appointment with Amir and Maryam. Because it's sometimes hard to understand each other over the phone, we often do an instant messaging type thing. And we were talking to Amir for just a short time when we asked how Maryam was doing, and we ended up talking to her for about 45 minutes! Well come to find out she doesn't have any background in Christianity. She is full blown Muslim and thinks that our Church is right for Amir, but not for her. So we're working on that. We have to be very careful as to not overstep boundaries with her current beliefs though. Luckily we have expereience with Muslims because we are currently teaching 4! haha so we get talking to Amir again, and this is what he says... 
Amir: Hello this is Amir
Gretchen: Hello Amir! Maryam told us that you met with the missionaries this week, correct?
Amir: Yes I'm going to visit them in next couple of minutes
Amir: Again
Gretchen: Oh, are they coming to your home?
Amir: No at Church
Gretchen: Oh good, what did they share with you last time?
Amir: At 7:15 for baptism
Amir: :D Amir is happy
Jessica: Someone else's baptism?
Jessica: That sounds great!
Amir: No my baptism
Gretchen: You are getting baptized today?
Amir: Do you let me go! Its late!
Amir: Yes
Gretchen: Why didn't you tell us?!
Gretchen: We wanted to come!
Amir: I arranged it at 3 pm today
Gretchen: Can we come?!
Amir: Do you want cancel it to next day?
Jessica: No!
Gretchen: No we will come now!
Gretchen: What is the address?
Amir: OK
Amir: Its at 7:30
Amir: Can you be here so quick!
Gretchen: We will come now! 

Well imagine my panic while reading that Amir had to leave to go to his baptism that he forgot to tell us about!!! Keep in mind that I have been teaching Amir for 7 months, and that he has been my only local investigator to whose baptism I could actually attend! So we grab our stuff and full out sprint across Temple Square to try to make it to West Jordan in time for Amir's baptism! The APs came to our office and tried to get the address and other information for us as we drove. Well, I figured this would be a good reason to speed. And decided that if I got pulled over I would tell them that my Iranian investigator is getting baptized NOW and that I didn't have time to follow the law. (just kidding) but I was praying the whole way that I wouldn't get pulled over. We get to the church building and there is no one there... so we go to a few other church buildings close by and no luck. So we ended up going to Amir's house and lo and behold, the Elders are at his door! They look at us and say "Aren't you Temple Square sisters? What are you doing here?" I replied "We are the missionaries who have been teaching Amir for the past 7 months." Well come to find out that these aren't the Elders who have been teaching Amir, they are the YSA elders who taught him once and they were following up to see how he was doing. I told them "Well Amir is getting baptized right now and we are trying to find him!" Then Amir comes right around the corner.. "Hey, Sister Gretchen, you missed my baptism!" He got baptized in 15 minutes and that was it! We missed it. Needless to say, I was a bit crushed. I am SO excited for Amir! But I am also SO mad at his Elders for teaching him once and then baptizing him without me there. So when I go to his confirmation this Sunday, I am going to try to hold my wrath in to not disturb the spirit. But the next time I see them at Temple Square, I can't promise anything. But this Sunday I am able to go to his confirmation, and I am still very excited about that! Amir is soon to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and I could not be happier!

Tuesday we had the unique opportunity to go to a lunch for President Poulsen with the APs. It was a lunch to introduce President Poulsen to the tourism department in Utah. Now, this was pretty important because if us or President messed up, we wouldn't have nearly as many guests (potential investigators) coming to Temple Square for the years to come. So I was pretty nervous! Especially since I think I got the tiniest fork in the world and kept dropping food on my lap. That was a bit embarrassing. I sat next to a man named Jim Olson, and he is on the board for Utah Tourism. We talked a lot about missionary work because he has a son who left just a few months ago for his mission is South Africa! So that was good. And can I say, that the food was ABSOLUTELY AMAZING! I probably have never had better food in my life; and it's not just because I've been eating cheap missionary food for the past 7 months. We had an amazing spinach salad (and I love spinach salad), chicken cordon bleu, and waffle bowl ice cream. Topped off with strawberry lemonade! My mouth is watering just writing those words. But it was really good because I thankfully didn't get any food on my clothes, so when I went up and spoke in front of the 180 people there I didn't look like a complete fool. We each had a few moments to share why we loved Temple Square; and for me it's hard to know where to start. I love Temple Square because the spirit is so strong, because of the history and beauty of the church, and mostly because when visitors come to Temple Square, they are changed. Never to be the same. I feel the same way each and everyday as I was through those gates. And I can't imagine that ever changing.

This week, 2 of our new investigators from chat are some of my favorite new investigators! They both came on with questions that is presumably the typical 'Anti' questions. And it is really easy to disregard them. And normally we're supposed to end the chat as quickly as possible! But with these two, we didn't feel it was right. One of them we called as we were chatting! He is absolutely prepared for the Gospel. He was originally from Australia, but moved to London to go to University. So yes, he has the most beautiful accent in the world. No contest. But he has had a pretty rough past, and he said that even when he found success, he didn't find happiness. And being an atheist, he noticed how happy Christians were. He started gaining a belief in God through and hearing the Apostles words. Wow! Powerful right? Well he is searching, so intently, for an answer of happiness and truth. And we are very excited to teach him more! He is graduating University at the end of this month and said that he considered, if he joined the church, to come to Utah to study further at BYU or LDSBC. Well perfect! He's so great.
The other guy we were able to call this last Wednesday night, and he said that he absolutely loves the church, and the people. But not quite the history; he has heard a lot of misconceptions. So when we called him we told him, we're going to start over, that he needed to ease his mind of what he has heard, and focus on what we were going to teach him about the Restoration of the church. We invited him to be baptized at the end and he said yes! From where he started, we were very surprised. But we know that he was prepared, just misinformed. So we are very excited to teach these two guys! 

Well that's pretty much it for me, I'm in my last 2 weeks of being in the office, and I am nervous and excited about that. I don't think anyone loves being an office assistant more than I do, but I'm excited to move onto bigger and better things in my future. AND Sister Gudiel (my trainer) and Sister Gee (one of my best mission friends) are both coming back this transfer!!!!! Hope you all have a great week!

Sister Gretchen Brock

This is the Empire room in the Joseph Smith memorial building, where we got to have that fancy lunch with President!

Transfer 5 week 4!

You can call me Aunty Gretchen!! YES! I can finally tell people that I'm going to be an AUNT! Garrett and Micah are going to have a baby :) 

Last weekend was Easter! What a great time to share the Gospel with all of those around us, especially at Temple Square. During Christmas and Easter a lot more people are open to a message about Jesus Christ; which is unfortunate, it should be that way all year round! So the church put out a video called 'Because of Him' this Christmas season. And it is so powerful! I cried while watching it; though I cry almost over everything that touches my heart. But the church advertised it on the front page of Youtube on Easter! The video was linked to chat, and so we were getting A TON of chats all weekend! We had scheduled times in our Teaching Center time where we just took chats! And normally we can take 2 at a time, but for the weekend we were able to take 5 at a time! So since Sister Jensen and I have an office, we took chats for a good amount of the day. We found SO MANY new investigators. Even ran into someone that was with Jeff Kidd! Small world. But just like it was mentioned in General Conference numerous times, technology is a source to spread the Gospel. I love Brother Ridds talk in the Priesthood session entitled "The Choice Generation." He talked about the uses of technology and how it is to be used for good, and 'Because of Him' is a perfect example of how technology can be used in the right way. To bring people happiness because of our Savior, Jesus Christ. 

We had a miracle with one of our former investigators this week.Her name is Jane! She is 18 and was very interested in the Gospel a few months back. It was difficult to get a hold of her, and when we finally did she was very straightforward and dropped us. Well just 2 days later she called us back and left us a message saying that she thinks she made a mistake, that she can't get the Gospel off her mind. And she would like us to call her back right away! So we called and she shared an amazing story with us. She said that that weekend she had gone out and gotten drunk with her friends, she had never done this before. And the next day when she was hung over she was taking a shower, just feeling absolutely horrible, and she remembers thinking "Man, the Mormons have this right!" And then she had a flash of the Temple in her mind and passed out. If that isn't a sign, I don't know what is! She said she prayed that night and said that if she is supposed to learn more, she would run into the missionaries the next day. And guess what happens, she ran into the missionaries! She was too scared to talk to them though, so she called us instead. She is back on track and wants to join the church! We just have to get her parents on board. She is truly an inspiration. 

This week I have really been trying to get caught up on General Conference talks, and the ones that have really stuck out to me where the ones I've read from the Priesthood session. If you haven't had the chance to read or watch those, I strongly suggest you do so; immediately. Elder Oaks talk entitled "The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood" is possibly the best talk about the Priesthood, ever. He is so clear and straightforward about the authority of the Priesthood. I myself have never had a problem with not holding the Priesthood, but a lot of women have. They feel like they are being put beneath the men in importance; but Elder Oaks hit it right on target when he said that we must forget about our rights and focus on our responsibilities. Before I read this talk, I thought to myself "What blessings do you Gretchen receive from the Priesthood?" My list included: Sacrament, blessings of healing, setting apart as a missionary, Baptism, Temple Ordinances, and eventually a husband that will be worthy to administer when the Priesthood is needed. I can't imagine my life without the Priesthood. Often times I have always skipped over talks or scriptures concerning the Priesthood, because I thought "Well, I don't have the Priesthood. So why does it matter to me?" But the Priesthood is such a huge part in my life! Everything I do is because of the priesthood, because that is the strongest symbol of God's love for me personally. I know that we all better need to understand the Priesthood, because it is a connection to God, not only for those that hold the keys. "These subjects are of equal concern to men and to women." He explained the difference so clearly between holding the keys and having the authority, he quoted "Those who have priesthood keys.. literally make it possible for all (not just men) who serve faithfully under their direction to exercise priesthood authority and have access to priesthood power." Priesthood authority is available to everyone, but we must do as Elder Oaks advises and forget about our rights and concentrate on our responsibilities! As women, President Reuben Clark said "The greatest power God has given to His sons cannot beexercised without the companionship of one of His daughters, because only to His daughters hasGod given the power to be a creator of bodies… so that God’s design and the Great Plan mightmeet fruition." We are not only here to be "bearers of the Priesthood" but to raise a righteous generation that will be able to partake of the blessings of the Priesthood. I want my kids to feel even more love than I do for the Priesthood. To understand what the role of the Priesthood is in their lives. And that begins with me; what I value and hold dear in life will become their desires. "What we insistently desire, over time, is what we will eventually become and what we receive in eternity.. Only by educating and training our desires can they become our allies instead of our enemies." -Neal A. Maxwell. What do each of us insistently desire? Do we cleave onto righteousness? Do we seek the blessings of the Priesthood in our lives? I hope and pray that we will all understand the role of the Priesthood in our lives more abundantly.
I love you all and hope you had a great week!

(I hope this works)