Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Transfer 12 week 5

I'm wrapping up in the last 2 weeks of my mission and it feels like I just started the first 2 weeks of my mission... definitely strange.

This week has had somewhat of a theme, and something I am so grateful to have experienced at this point in my mission. We had 4 companionships come to us after having gone to their district and zone leaders for help with no prevail. They were each having companionship unity problems that were very deeply rooted. As they were each explaining their "side of the story" to us, it amazed me how often we overlook our own ills, but so easily see others. President Uchtdorf explained it this way, "I'm not sure why we are able to diagnose and recommend remedies for others people's ills so well while we often have difficulty seeing our own." Too often do we immediate assume the conflict is because of another, when we are not willing to look to ourselves to see how we can fix the problem. The only control that we have over these situations are self-control, the things that wedecide. Even how we react is a decision that affects the situation. And as for these sisters, they were so stuck on what their companions were doing that they weren't willing to look at their own mistakes. But something that I have learned from President Poulsen is called 'Behavior Modification'. It simply is asking one sister "What is it that you are doing that irritates your companion?" and after she explains, you turn to her companion and ask "Is this correct?" and if she says no, then you know they have not communicated and ask them to come back tomorrowafter they've discussed it together. When they return and both are on the same page, you look forbehaviors that they are willing to change. Often times you'll hear a response such as "Well she just thinks that she knows better than me and doesn't trust my judgement!" But that is not a behavior. So then you ask, "What does she do that makes you think that?" Once you find a behavior, they are then able to work on behavior modification, where you change one behavior a week to satisfy the problem. We have found it to be very successful here in the Temple Square mission, and I presume it is because we are finally looking inward to solve the conflict. It was quite inspired this week that I studied a talk entitled "Lord, is it I?" by President Uchtdorf. I was able to use a story he shared with these sisters to help them recognize that they were focusing so much on what their companions were doing wrong and were missing everything that they were doing to harm their companionship.

Here is the story:
Once there was a man who enjoyed taking evening walks around his neighborhood. He particularly looked forward to walking past his neighbor’s house. This neighbor kept his lawn perfectly manicured, flowers always in bloom, the trees healthy and shady. It was obvious that the neighbor made every effort to have a beautiful lawn.But one day as the man was walking past his neighbor’s house, he noticed in the middle of this beautiful lawn a single, enormous, yellow dandelion weed.
It looked so out of place that it surprised him. Why didn’t his neighbor pull it out? Couldn’t he see it? Didn’t he know that the dandelion could cast seeds that could give root to dozens of additional weeds?
This solitary dandelion bothered him beyond description, and he wanted to do something about it. Should he just pluck it out? Or spray it with weed killer? Perhaps if he went under cover of night, he could remove it secretly.
These thoughts totally occupied his mind as he walked toward his own home. He entered his house without even glancing at his own front yard—which was blanketed with hundreds of yellow dandelions.
I have a personal testimony of how we can create the situations and relationships we desire. Yes, we must respect and allow personal agency. But we have control over the decisions we make, and the changes we decide to implement. "In these words, 'Lord, is it I?' lies the beginning of wisdom and personal conversion and lasting change." -President Uchtdorf. If we find ourselves in a pickle, we should ask ourselves this very question. It is the key to a happy and successful life. I know these things to be true, and I am so grateful to have these experiences this week, which I know will help and bless me the rest of my life.

I hope y'all have a wonderful week!

Sister Brock

Transfer 12 week 4

Another amazing week here at Temple Square. We started off this week with speaking at the LDSBC devotional with President Poulsen. He was asked to be the guest speaker this past week, and asked us to come along and speak with him. Sister Jin and I only spoke for about 5 minutes each, and shared some of our favorite experiences from our mission. I shared my experience with the young man who refused to go to the concert because he came to Temple Square to "see Jesus!" Afterward, it was great to be able to talk to the students and hear the impact our experiences had on them. I also got to meet some unexpected friends afterwards! One being the sister of a sister missionary that I was a sister training leader over in San Antonio, another two being return missionaries who served in my ward back home in Oregon, and the other being none other than Sister Gyebi-Quarcoo! She wrote to Joel, my dear dear friend, and told him about it. Then I got an email from him this morning saying "I hope all is well! Well actually I'm sure all is well! We all know that you're over there inspiring the world. Or at least my Mum! She LOOOOOOOOOOVES YOU! She was so excited that she got to see you at that devotional. You're her new idol. In her email she was going on and on about how great you were. I even got pictures! You should send me a copy of whatever you said and I can save it for when I have to teach at Zone training." hahaha I just love my English friends. 
Another great blessing happened last night. I have been feeling sick off-and-on since Friday, but wasn't having too much of a problem with it. Until last night. Sister Jin and I were taking a Chinese tour (one of only three tours we've taken this whole transfer!) when I began to feel like I was going to pass out. So we went down to our office and began to feel super clammy and light headed. Then I passed out. I woke back up and decided I needed to go to the hospital, because the pain was too much to bear. It has been almost a year since my surgery and haven't had complications thus far, but with my luck- three weeks before I go home I'd need another surgery. But right before we were about to go to the hospital, I asked for a blessing by Elder Skanchy, our mission financial secretary. And afterwards, I felt completely normal. No pain. No clamminess. No nausea. Nothing. They had me still go to the hospital to make sure everything was fine, and they couldn't find anything wrong. The Priesthood truly is God's power given to righteous men on this Earth. This is one of many miracles that I have seen throughout my life that have come from receiving Priesthood blessings. I know the Priesthood is real, and that it works like a Liahona; according to our faith. I have completely faith and trust in the power of God, and I know that is what healed and protected me last night.

This week I was watching an MTC devotional from Elder Holland back in 2011. I have seen this many times before, and thankfully got myself a copy of it to take home. In this devotional, he shared a very moving story that has been passed down for many many years. It is a story of a woman and missionaries in the Czech Republic, back then Czechoslovakia. This story is placed in-between the two world wars. It begins with these missionaries knocking on this woman's door, and immediately she slams the door. But these missionaries were great missionaries and weren't going to take that for an answer, they were persistent and knocked again, she opened the door and in Czech asked if they were ministers. They said yes and she proceeded to clam the door again. This time, one of the Elders caught his foot in the door, and asked what was wrong with ministers. She opened up and told them that shortly after her husband had died in the war, her three year old daughter died suddenly. And in completely remorse, she went to the local minister to look for relief. But he in return told her that her daughter was in hell and so was she because she had not gotten her child baptized! And then in time of trouble and remorse, she came stumbling into this church, asking for help. Her shooed her out and she vowed to herself never to speak to a minister again. Now back then, missionaries had recited lessons. And you had to teach lesson one before lesson two, and lesson two before lesson three, and so on. Elder Holland said "So Elders and Sisters, what would you do? How would you respond? If you were Elder Holland, you would jump straight into lesson one." These particular missionaries responded in their broken Czech with "Would you like us to tell you where your daughter is?" The door peeked open a bit more, and she said "I would give anything to know where my daughter is." They opened up to Moroni 8, and taught her about the curse of infant baptism, and how children are saved through the grace of God. This story is all because of a missionary who had the sense to know what is in Moroni 8! What I learn and draw from this story is the power our own personal conversion and dedication to this Gospel has on our ability to share the Gospel. Imagine what would have happened if these missionaries hadn't had such a great desire to knock again on her door? If they had simply dived off into the first discussion? If they had not studied and loved the Gospel? This story would have ended a lot differently. She would not have gotten baptized and been one of the strongest members ever in the Czech Republic. We cannot come on our missions, or expect to share the gospel, without being personally converted to the gospel ourselves. For me, it took experiences with the Spirit, through studying the scriptures, really kneeling down and saying my prayers, and bearing sincere testimony and experiences. We all have the ability to change someone's life, just like this Czech woman, if we are first changed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And this is my invitation to you today, to pray about one thing you can change to have an experience with the spirit. I promise you, as a servant of the Lord, that you will be overcome with the spirit, and desire to do anything you can to regain the strong impressions from the spirit.

I want to finish off by sharing one of my most recent favorite quotes from one of my previous companion's farewell talk in sacrament meeting. "It is not about going through the refiners fire, it is about being willing to go through the refiners fire." -Sister Jessica Jensen, Denmark.

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

Sister Brock

Transfer 12 week 3

Another absolutely wonderful week! We have really been working hard this transfer to get out of the office and make time to teach our investigators, because we truly have so so so many investigators this transfer! If all goes as planned, we should have 8 investigators get baptized this transfer, and about 7 ready for next transfer. So we're really excited about them!

I want to tell y'all a little bit about one of our investigators who is getting baptized this weekend, his name is Matthew. Now Matthew is 20 and currently lives in Reno, Nevada. One of his friends gave him a Book of Mormon over 3 years ago, and he simply put it aside. Then this year he started looking at colleges that he wanted to transfer to, and his top 2 were in Utah. So he knew that he needed to figure out what the Mormons were all about. So he began by reading the Book of Mormon, and he said that as soon as he read even the first sentence in the introduction, he felt something. Something he had never felt before, and he craved it, so much that he finished the Book of Mormon within just a few weeks. He came onto chat with questions that he had formulated, and ended up going to church the very next week. Interestingly enough, it was fast Sunday! And he got up to bear his testimony about the Book of Mormon... yes on his very first Sunday attending church. This guy absolutely amazes me. He is the 'low-hanging fruit' that as missionaries we should be looking for. He is one who will build the kingdom of God. He recorded his testimony and sent it to me, and it will be one of the most treasured things I will bring home from my mission.

Just yesterday, we had our 'finish strong' meeting for all of us departing sisters. It felt very surreal. But we were able to make goals and set plans for how we want to finish our missions, because I know that no matter how we start our missions we can always finish off strong. And it shows more of your character of how you finish your mission rather than how you began. But something that I've realized recently was not just how you 'finish' but how you continue. Some people who come home from their mission have a hard time 'adjusting'. But the way we live as missionaries is a lifestyle, and it should simply continue as we move to the next phase of our lives. An Elder I know who has recently come home from his mission had expressed to me that he has shared the Gospel almost as much as he did while he was on his mission. Now that truly is a sign of a wonderful finish and follow through! So I had been thinking, what can I do these last few weeks to make sure that I have a strong follow through? And my first thought was prayer. I pray countless times everyday; by myself, with my companion, with investigators, etc. But the more personal, sincere and meaningful I can make them, the better off I will be after my mission. So one goal that Sister Jin and I have set for the rest of this transfer is to take 30 minutes out of our lunch hour, kneel down in our office and completely open up to our Heavenly Father in earnest prayer. Now I have to admit, praying for 30 minutes was not easy at first, especially on my poor knees! But directly after, Sister Jin and I went up onto the Square and in just 5 minutes found 2 different new investigators. We were simply running and errand to one of the visitors centers, but because we were so in tune with the spirit, we were able to find amazing opportunities to share the Gospel. One of those new investigators is an exchange student from China, who lives locally and wants to be baptized! Sister Jin was also an exchange student in Washington and joined the church while she was there. And not only was this prayer so beneficial for our missionary work, but for me personally. I have never felt so light. So clear. So joyful. as I did in those minutes of prayer. I know that God heard me, and that He truly wants to give us peace and help in our lives, but it isn't until we slow down for a few minutes and kneel down that we will receive it. I have a firm testimony about prayer, and I know that this is something I will rely on for the rest of my life. 

That's about it for me this week. We have a busy week ahead with another MLC, exchanges with all of the Zone Leaders, and Sister Jin and I are moving to a new appartment! We cannot tell you how excited we are for this... we are testing out the stellar new apartments that the mission is getting next transfer. Two bedroom, two bathroom, exercise room, large kitchen, shall I go on? We are living large. haha have a wonderful week my friends!

Much love,
Sister Brock