Thursday, January 29, 2015

Transfer 12 week 2

What a tremendous week this has been. I always love transfer week! It is so packed full of spirit; considering all the meetings we conduct. But the highlight of my week is always the time that we have in the teaching center. We have some absolutely stellar investigators right now, and I always feel so full of love and the spirit after talking with them.

One of our investigators name is Konah. She lives in Liberia, has 6 kids, and her husband passed away just a few weeks ago. I think I've told y'all about her before. When we were concluding our lesson with her, we asked her to say the closing prayer, and she gave one of the most heart-felt prayers I have ever heard. The hope and faith that she has, still in her dire and feeble circumstances are inspiring. Even though she cannot provide for her family, even though her husband has just passed away, even though Ebola is spreading throughout her country- she is still praising and thanking God. After her prayer, we asked her why she has kept this strong faith even throughout all of her trials and hardships, and her response was that we shouldn't be thanking God on conditions of results. Wise words from a humble African mama. I love my dear Konah.

Today we had our mission leadership council meeting. Which is where all the district and zone leaders get together to receive trainings from President Poulsen, us and some of the zone leaders. And this MLC was focused on going back to the basics. Often times in the world, and even the church, you see that people want to skip the basics and go straight into being creative and inventive, without understanding the basics. But as missionaries we have been given a tool called the "Fundamentals of Preach my Gospel." In these fundamentals, it has studies, and activities, and journal prompts and inspired questions on how we can expound on these basic principles; such as revelation through church attendance, and how to teach people and not lessons. And we know that as we master these fundamentals, we will be like the Master Teacher, Jesus Christ. To introduce this concept, I began with an analogy. I have played volleyball for as long as I can remember, and I actually began playing as a middle hitter. Most of you who have seen me play recently would probably laugh after hearing that... but anyway, when I started playing as a middle I had an absolutely awful arm swing. Keep in mind that I was a 5'8 12 year old; completely awkward. And I didn't do anything to change my arm swing for 3 years! When I was in 8th grade, my coach finally told me that I need to completely re-train my muscle memory to swing correctly. She had me tie tennis balls from my ceiling in my bedroom to have one reach the top of my elbow of my swinging arm and the other to reach my finger tips of my directing arm. These tennis balls must have been hanging in my room for two years until I finally got it right, even with 500 practice swings a day! But because I went back to the basics, went back to the fundamentals of volleyball, I was able to move forward to play in a very elite level of play. It takes work. It takes dedication. It takes motivation. But if we want to be successful at anything we pursue in life we must first master the fundamentals. And so this is what we are hoping to achieve so that we can raise the acceleration of progression in the mission.

That is about it for me this week, we don't have as many meetings this week so I am exciting to have some more time to be out on the square and in the teaching center. I love y'all so much and hope that you have a stellar week!

Sister Brock

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Road Trip!!

Hello Family!

Another jam packed week. So I'll hit a few of the highlights. To begin, Sister Taito and I are going to the Provo MTC tomorrow to do a training for some new visitors center directors. And it's a pretty big deal. And the missionary department came the other day so that we could prepare and role play with them. Not intimidating at all... but we got some amazing feedback. We were both so nervous while we were role playing, but after getting their critiques it went a lot better. Still nervous for tomorrow, but I pray it all goes well. Road trip!

This week has been pretty stressful, but thankfully my companion needed to go shopping at City Creek today.... this is unusual for her. But it was such a great stress reliever for me! Nothing like buying new clothes. Especially when Gap is having a sale.

After pondering about my mission thus far, I realized that I have especially learned how to work hard and love the difficult times. Christ suffered, so why not us? Whenever I get through something that I think is hard, and I feel like I deserve a rest; I am reminded of the Savior, and how when after He had completed his suffering in the Garden, he didn't stop there. He went and carried his cross, and took the shame of the world on His shoulders. Even after he was crucified, He didn't stop. He preached to the spirits in the spirit prison. He is truly the ultimate being for us to follow. And I am so grateful to have had my eyes open to this on my mission. This week has been trying, and I think we all have those weeks in our lives, but having true hope of overcoming is a blessing only the Gospel of Jesus Christ can bring to our life. And I know this knowledge has carried me this week. I am so grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and how it fuses into every portion of my life.

I love y'all and hope you have a stellar week.

Sister Brock

Friday, January 9, 2015

Steller week

Hello Family and Friends,

I decided to stop writing the week as the subject is because each week it progressively frightens me a little more. I cannot believe that I am less than 2 months away from finishing my mission, what a scary thought. So I decided to not think about it until the second my feet hit the lush green ground of Oregon.

This week we began transfer planning, but simply planning what Sisters will go outbound, so we turned that list in today to the Apostles to assign the sisters to their outbound. To be completely honest, when people had told me previously that our outbound assignments come back to the Apostles, I didn't believe them. But thinking back to my outbound, San Antonio was exactly where I needed to be. My companions, ward, leaders, mission president, etc. was exactly what I needed to get to where I am today, and to raise my vision for who I will be tomorrow. So I am excited to receive an email back about the assignments and see these sisters grow tremendously from this experience. Tomorrow we officially start on the actual transfer board though, and we have many exciting changes coming up next transfer. So I hope and pray that everything runs smoothly.

We have some exciting things coming up in the next couple of weeks: to begin, next Tuesday Sister Taito and I are heading down to Provo to give a training to 9 new visitor center directors at the MTC. There are only 2 visitors centers around the world that have mission presidents, the others have VC directors, and so Sister Taito and I will be going down to give them a training. Very excited for this road trip! Then shortly it will be the end of the transfer and we'll have all of our departing activities, such as going to TUCANO'S!!! And going to the Temple with the departing sisters. 

This week we have found some stellar new investigators! One was a woman who came on chat desiring to know more about the church, because she had been given a Book of Mormon by a coworker and she is already in 2 Nephi 27. She accepted to be baptized, and will hopefully begin meeting with local missionaries this week. We also got another new investigator from a member referral on chat, his name is Onimike and he lives in Nigeria. He had met with missionaries a few years ago, but wasn't able to go to church regularly because it was far from his home. But just a few short years later, we were able to discover a new chapel built in his town! And he is excited to go to church this week and is counting down the days until he will be baptized. Another one was also found from chat, we clicked on and immediately he said "Hello, I am 15 years old and want to become a Mormon. And my parents support me." Okay lets get you in the baptismal font. He's so great! And as we were talking to him, he kept saying how excited he is to really study the Gospel and learn more of Christ. He is going to be a fantastic missionary one day! And if this was all the miracles this week, I would rejoice. But yet we found another miracle. He currently lives in Chicago, but is originally from an Islamic country, with a background being Muslim. We have been teaching him for just 3 days and already he is excited to become a member of the church. Just as I was typing this email he accepted to be baptized on February 7th. He first began praying our first day teaching him, and he had admitted that he felt awkward at first, but already feels that he has received an answer that the Gospel is true. I cannot express how amazing this week was, and to be able to see so many people searching for the Gospel and wanting to be baptized. It's amazing to be a missionary.

Tonight Sister Taito and I are going over to one of our Islamic recent converts house to have some traditional Islamic food, so we're excited about that. I love y'all soooo much and hope you have a great week!

Sister Brock

Transfer 11 week 4

Another busy week, but thankfully we have been able to find a lot more time out on the square this week. We only have a few more nights left with the Christmas lights, and I want to take in all I can while we still have them and all the guests.

A good portion of this week was preparing for Christmas, between calling all of our investigators and preparing the Christmas devotional, we were able to work with the mission presidency in the elf workshop and prepare a nice surprise for all of the sisters. We are definitely spoiled in this mission! A lot of the sisters here have never truly experienced a Christmas, and so we do our best each year to help them have an uplifting experience and feel loved. This year we received HUGE stockings from a few local families. They were so generous, and made amazing stockings for all 200 sisters. It was such a sweet experience for Sister Taito and I to watch all the sisters open their stockings with surprise and awe. We also received a missionary CD by the BYU men's chorus, and an incredible blanket that was embroidered with the Salt Lake Temple and the words Temple Square Mission on it. It has been keeping us warm this week with all the snow! The first day of snow was on Christmas day, and hasn't quite stopped since. I am grateful for marshmallow coats this season.

This week was also interesting because my family came to Temple Square! Not just my family, but the whole crew. Rich, Patti, Garrett, Micah, Braxton, Alli, Chris, Megan O., Makenna, Marty, Megan G., Jordan, Nicole, and Hudson! It was really strange how normal it felt to have them there. Definitely a blessing! We also got to go out for lunch, and my favorite part being able to hold my nephew Braxton. I am so in love with him already!

This last Saturday I got to go to one of my outbound companion's sealing! Sister Simonsen got sealed this last Saturday to Mr.Larson Quick, and it was such a special experience. I served as an ordinance worker in the Temple before my mission, but have never witnessed a live sealing before and it is definitely something to look forward to. I am so happy for Sister Simonsen and this next phase of her life!

Today we started zone leader reports, where the zone leaders report to President and us on how their sisters in their zone are doing and what could be beneficial for them next transfer. So we begin transfer planning today and work on it throughout the next couple of weeks! This is one thing I was very excited for in this transfer. And so it begins!

This week we had a few minutes to spare between meetings and called one of our investigators in Africa. So as we were heating up some food in our office while we called Konah, one of our investigators in Liberia. She answers and is wailing in the phone, and we have the hardest time understanding what she is saying, until I finally realized and relayed it to my companion that "Daniel is dead." Her husband had passed away that afternoon and she is alone with her 7 children. Our hearts completely broken; we sat and comforted her on the phone while I called the branch President and ushered him over to her home. We talked with her about how important it is for her now to grasp on even more to the Gospel because this is what is going to bring her peace, and to do everything she can to prepare for the Temple so that she can be with her family forever. She is determined, and she is so strong! I'll keep y'all updated on how she's doing. Through these experiences this week with Konah, seeing my family and attending Sister Simonsen's sealing, my testimony of and desire for an eternal family increased ten fold. Truly it is the love of our family that is the closest to the love our Heavenly Father has for us; and that is manifest through everything he has created or organized. I feel of His love every single day of my life, and I will do anything to have that love within my family and spread it to families throughout the world. Konah and her family will be together again, and that knowledge will help them prevail through this and every other hard trial that they go through. This is the message of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. I don't know where I would be without the knowledge of eternal families; it shapes every decision I make, and makes me who I am today and who I will be tomorrow.  

That's about it for me this week; I haven't heard much from family&friends back home and I'd love to hear how y'all are doing! I hope you had a wonderful spirit-filled Christmas and will have a joyous new year. 

Sister Brock

Another blurb to add:
I also had my departing talk yesterday in sacrament meeting (is it really time for that already?). There are 37 people going home in my class so we needed to start early, and since I am at the beginning of the alphabet, I got to go first. I had gotten my topic a few weeks back and had been really struggling to come up with something to say; everyone always says that "President Harman is so inspired, this is exactly what I feel like I have learned the most in my mission!" But I feel like my topic is something that I am struggling with and haven't quite obtained on my mission yet. The topic I was given was on loving others regardless of how they treat you. And if you know me, you know that I sometimes have a really hard time letting people in. But on my mission, I have been able to learn to love people regardless of how they use their agency, especially with my investigators. But I haven't gotten to the level of love that I would like to be at in this point in my life, and that is why I had a very difficult time preparing a talk. So do you know what I did? I talked on what I wanted to talk on. I pulled an Avery Grasse and said to myself "Well I'm leaving in 2 months anyway, what could they do?" So instead I talked about the atonement, something I truly have strengthened my understanding of and qualified myself even more for on my mission. And I bridged it to loving others, saying that the greatest love we could show anyone is helping them learn of and qualify for the atonement, and that is is by the way we serve our missions. The way we serve is in direct relation to our love for our brothers and sisters, and especially our love for our Heavenly Father and His son Jesus Christ. I was able to realize that I have a lot more love than I realized, although I may not be the most patient with people's mistakes, I am beginning to understand that we are also sons and daughters of Adam and Eve; we are a fallen children and will make fallen mistakes. I hope to continue to learn to love more people regardless of the choices they make, and become more patient and encouraging.

Okay, this really is now for me this week. Have a wonderful week!

Transfer 11 week 3

What a blessed week. Truly we have been so blessed in every aspect this week! To begin, we had to run some errands at Costco after zone conference and someone bought us a Costco Pizza. Yummy! While we were waiting for it to cook, a woman slipped a $100 bill in our pocket and whispered in our ear, "get yourself something nice for Christmas." And walked away. We're not allowed to accept money, but we are grateful for her great faith and sacrifice. The money went already into the general missionary fund. Then today we were grocery shopping for the next few weeks and the member before us paid for our groceries! And to top it all off, when we went to Cafe Rio for lunch, a man gave us each a $25 gift card to Cafe Rio. So many blessings that we have room not enough to receive them. That's only the beginning; our investigators have been booming!

A few months ago the missions in Liberia and Sierra Leone were temporarily closed due to ebola. And we have been working with the missions there to use our resources to continue to teach the investigators and referrals there. So Sister Taito and I have been teaching our fair amount of Africans recently, not just the ones in those two countries though, a good amount in Nigeria and Kenya as well. We were going through our area book yesterday looking over our African investigators when we found a former investigator taught by another sister who went home quite a few months ago. We felt prompted to call him immediately, and so we did. He answered! (which is pretty rare) and he is still very interested in being baptized, but he has just moved and lost contact with the missionaries. And now we are teaching his family of 6 as well. Another blessing of this week! I truly love teaching Africans, because they are in a condition of humility and in-tune with the spirit to see that this will bring them happiness by coming closer to Jesus Christ. Their names also crack me up; some of our African investigators names are Promise, Sincere, Eyo, Kulu, Konah, etc. They're all great!

Another blessing of the week was yesterday when we called one of my outbound investigators, Christine Mountcastle. Christine is an absolute character and has a great desire to be baptized! The only problem is that she has been trying to quite smoking for 3 years, and has not been successful. Another major problem is that she is living with a man who she is not legally married too, and because of financial reasons it is hard for them to get married. So we were working with her to quit smoking so that when the time does come, she is ready to be baptized! So we give her and Mark a call yesterday, and she is so excited to talk to us. She continues on to tell us that she has officially quit smoking! She smoked her last cigarette almost 4 weeks ago, and went cold turkey off the nicotine patches she was using. And she feels great! She said that every time she even sees a cigarette now she feels like throwing up. Hey, if it works right? So we are super happy for her and this big step in her life. She has desire like no one I know to come closer to Christ, and is working to do everything she can to be baptized. I am so excited for Christine, what an angel.

This week I also saw 5 dear people; Sister Rodrigues (one of my companions from Portugal), Elder Jake Kelly, and my parents and sister! My family got to come to sacrament meeting yesterday with me and then joined President and Sister Poulsen for Music and the Spoken Word. They will be returning back tomorrow for a tour and lunch with my companion and I. What a Christmas treat. And just the other night I was out on the square with one of our recent converts when I ran into Elder Jake Kelly! I have known Jake every since I was born, and it has been so cool to see how much he has changed throughout his mission. The poise and dignity he has developed in his mission has brought him to the great missionary he is today, and I cannot wait to see what he will accomplish in the next 6ish months left in his mission. I am truly so proud of him. So many times you see missionaries go and return with little or no change, but this Gospel is all about change! And if we expect our investigators to change, we must as well. There is nothing like the refining you can receive on your mission, if you let it.

That's about it for me this week. But I truly am so grateful to be on my mission for another Christmas season. Blessings are raining from above, and my eyes are open to see them. What a glorious time of year, a time to recommit ourselves to more closely follow our Savior and learn and feel of His divine role. The Savior lives, and His influence and spirit is all around us. I know that this is His Gospel, and that through it we can receive more happiness and joy than imaginable. Let us all be embraced in His love and spirit this Christmas season.

I love y'all and wish you a very merry Christmas.

Sister Brock

P.s. This week I will be giving my departing talk in our mission sacrament meeting; I truly cannot believe it is time already. 
P.s.s. I am a bit late, but I sent out some Christmas cards just today. Please forgive me for being so late!

Transfer 11 week 1

This week has been a jam packed one. Wednesday started the new transfer and that means new missionaries arriving! We picked them up at 7:00am and began interviews with them and President. In just a few hours we matched them up with their trainers and we were on our way running out of the mission office to go to my doctors appointment. I luckily only got about an inch of skin off, but about 25 stitches in total, so I have been pretty sore this week. Each day seems to be getting better though. We then ran back to the square to give a special VIP tour of the Temple Model with President Poulsen to none other than President Eyring. They are making Temple Models for the Washington DC visitor center as well as the Rome visitor center, and he wanted to know how we used it because he was presenting them. Afterwards President Eyring told us about an experience he had in Fiji. (My companion is from Fiji) He told us that he was at a concert with a small choir, they began singing and the sound was much larger than that small choir could perform. He looked up to see a choir of Angels, one of the sopranos being his mother. He continued on to tell us that the sopranos were on the viewers right side of the choir, and he cannot wait to get to heaven and tell the Mormon Tabernacle Choir that they have it backwards. hahaha it was so funny. And such a great experience to be able to talk about the Temple with a prophet of the Lord.

This week we had meeting after meeting after meeting. Thursday we had a trainer/new missionary meeting, Friday for returning outbound meeting, Saturday was Christmas training for new sisters, Sunday staff meeting, and today was MLC. All of which we conducted and gave trainings. And now it is time to prepare for zone conferences this week! You could say we've been pretty busy.

I haven't seen the Christmas lights in a week and probably won't until after zone conferences, so sorry if you are trying to find me. If you want to see my you should probably do as my outbound companion, Sister Clark, did and just get a job teaching English to the Sisters at Temple square. Seriously the BEST news ever! My best friend is going to be working in the mission office of Temple Square! My mission just got 100000x better.

Today we had such a powerful MLC (mission leadership council). In the past we have had problems with the meeting getting contentious because of the sisters ideas of problems in the mission. But this time we focused on bringing the spirit and purifying the mission by first purifying ourselves. We shared one of my favorite video's entitled Dayton's Legs, , in this video you see an example of an amazing leader, Spencer. I love how this video is not entitled "Spencer is Dayton's Legs." But rather it turns the entire focus on Dayton. Everything that Spencer does is underlined by his love and charity for those that he serves. That is how leaders should be, and how we want to change the culture in this mission to be. Leaders of the mission are truly the legs of the mission, but our job is to not only run the race to the finish line, but to help teach others to run. Every missionary in this mission is truly a leader, their influence in the mission and around the world is like no other, and we need to make sure everyone is lengthening their stride and picking up the pace to obtain our divine obsession.

Speaking of divine obsession, I'm not sure if I have mentioned it to y'all yet or not. All of the missions in Utah have been challenged to have this divine obsession of doubling our baptisms. And the divine obsession is what needs to happen to accomplish that. So in MLC today we presented a mission macro plan as well as 8 habits of highly successful missionaries to train the sisters on in zone conference, district meetings and zone meetings. But to do this we must be all in. This line came from outbound in the TSAM. When we first arrive at San Antonio, President Slaughter takes us to the Alamo and presents the story of the Alamo. We also presented this in MLC today. There was a point in the Alamo where the leader of the Texan army lined up his soldiers and drew a line across the dirt in front of them. He expressed that once they cross that line, they must be all in. No straddling the line or going back. They must give it everything they have, and leave behind all personal affairs. And this is the same when we come on our missions. When we accepted our calls, we decided to be all in. No thinking about home throughout the week. No pauses to rest. No distractions. To be all in, we have to be completely focused on our purpose. This is our goal and hope for this zone conference, is to get everyone all in.

I am so grateful for the opportunity I have to serve in this assignment and work so closely with my mission president. I have learned so much by preparing trainings, listening and counseling with the sisters, and being with my amazing companion, Sister Taito. We just have a ball together! Did I mention that she plays on the National Fiji basketball team? And she's a spiritual giant. I love my companion, I love this transfer, and I love being a missionary more than anything.

Sister Brock

Transfer 10 week 6

This was a great week! First week of lights, so we have been very busy. Our schedules also have changed so that we stay out on the square until 10pm, go to sleep at 11:30 and then wake up at 7:30. So it has been interesting adjusting to that schedule, but it is working well with the Christmas schedule. I also got a great Christmas decoration package from my mom and my apartment is looking very festive!

This week I got my results back for my skin biopsy, and the results are very concerning so they are going to go and take off more skin. So on Wednesday I'm doing back to the dermatologist and going to get about 20 stitches again. What a way to start off this next transfer!

This last weekend we had two amazing people get baptized, Antonio here in Murray Utah, and Brother James back in San Antonio Texas. We went to Antonio's baptism, but I'll send the pictures once I obtain a card reader. But Brother James is one of my absolutely favorite investigators. I met him at the end of my first transfer in San Antonio, I was on exchanges with Sister Smith and we were visiting some potential/former investigators. We were walking in the parking lot when we see two men unloading a car load. We go up and immediately start grabbing their things and say "Let us help you carry these in!" This usually doesn't work with two scrawny sisters. But Brother James looked at us with wide-crazy eyes and said "Well who are you?" We introduced ourselves and he referred to himself as Brother James. So he will forever be Brother James. My companions and I had worked with him for the following transfer and I continued to teach him from Temple Square. And this last week he was baptized. He relayed the experience to me as indescribable. He feels anew and feels the spirit so strongly in his life! I am so grateful that my companion and I opened our mouths to him that day in the parking lot. He is going to strengthen the Balcones Heights ward, and I am so excited to see him enter the Temple.

I love y'all and hope y'all have a great week!

Sister Brock

P.s. This week at the lights I saw the Maynes, Ethan Collins, Josh Kunzler, Abby Clements (sister from my outbound), The blue chair elder from the District videos, Christian Carlson, Saige Miller, and the missionary from the movie Meet the Mormons!

Transfer 10 week 5

What a marvelous week! To begin, today was black Friday, so my companion and I shopped most of the day at City Creek. It was fabulous! Best p-day I've had my whole mission. Nothing like renewing your wardrobe. I also ran into one of my outbound companions at GAP today, Sister Simonsen! She was with her fiancé Larson and her father. Side note: I get to go to their sealing on December 27th in the Salt Lake Temple!!!! So today was pretty great.
Thanksgiving this year was pretty different than last year. Last year we rented out Noah's, which is a party place, and had a HUGE celebration. This year we got to go to member’s houses and boy did I love it! There is no feeling like being in a home on thanksgiving, one that is full of love and the Spirit. We got to go to the Shaw family home in Bountiful, Utah. They picked us up yesterday at 2 and we went to their adorable home close by the Temple. They have 5 kids, and with the extended family there were 9 kids, myself included. We started off by playing some card games; I've still got it; still the pro at card games. Then we had an amazing Turkey dinner, we shared a message/game on gratitude and topped it off with some pie! It was how a Thanksgiving should be; spending time together as a family, having fun and making memories together.
This week Sister Brooks and I took one of my all-time favorite tours. We were walking in the North visitor’s center when we see the cutest Pilipino family, a father, mother and 4 absolutely adorable children. We first took them to the Christus, where the kids and I sat at the feet of Christ as we played the narration. Little Levi looked at me and plopped right down on my lap, I obviously didn't protest. We then proceeded to the presentation of God's plan for families; my absolute favorite place to take people. We then went to the tabernacle and the assembly hall, and the spirit was so strong. We continued to talk about eternal families, and how through the Gospel of Jesus Christ we can be together forever. This is what I love most of all, sharing this message of eternal families. Passion doesn't even begin to describe how I feel about the plan of Salvation, it has been so prudent throughout my life and I needed to have this knowledge to get past some challenges I have faced, and it is such a blessing to see how this message sparks an unquenchable flame in those who grasp on. I love this Gospel more than anything, and am so grateful to get to share more about it in this season of celebrating the Savior's birth. I invite each of you to watch this short video to start off this glorious Christmas season:
I love you all and hope y'all have a fantastic week. The Christmas lights are turning on tonight and I am more than excited!
Sister Brock