This week was almost 100 times better than last week.
It was just filled with so much goodness.
1. So we live about 15 or 20 miles away from our actual area, meaning that we do a whole lot of driving every day. We got home early one night, and we were unsure of what to do! Our main focus is teaching people in Spanish, but the Spanish population where we live is so limited. We sat in our car for a few minutes, pretty frustrated with ourselves for having a whole hour of nothing to do. We said a fervent prayer, asking for guidance and help. After the prayer, we sat for a few minutes. We both felt the same prompting and decided to do some tracting in some apartments down the road. Not sure where to begin, we stared at the apartments until 3 in particular stood out to me. Not sure if it was because they were the only ones with lights on... ha but we decided to try them out! The first two didn't answer, though we saw them through the windows... tsk tsk... but the very last one opened her door! She was a really nice lady, who, yes, SPOKE SPANISH. We about died right then and there. Milagros... miracles. Too bad we forgot her name!!!! Haha like honestly... we're the worst. BUT we are going back! YAY.
2. We went out to contact some referrals we had gotten, but no one was home. Typical. But as we were walking, a man stopped us, and asked if we were Hermanas. Turns out, he was a member! We got talking, and he told us his conversion story and about his family, it was really neat. He then pointed at a house across the street and told us we should check it out. So we thanked him, and headed in that direction. A 19 year old girl opened the door, and she was way friendly! We got to know her a bit, and when we asked her if she was interested in our message, she said yes! Hermana Grubbs was like, "Really!?" hahaha the girl just laughed and assured us that she was! MILAGROS people.
3. We have been planning to teach a really special lesson about the Restoration to a family who means a whole lot to us. The mom and the kids are not members, though the dad is. The mom is the sweetest, and she has been really receptive so far. She has a solid testimony of Jesus Christ and the atonement! But we were really wanting to teach the Restoration to her. Too bad every time we tried, she rescheduled! Finally, we were able to get her and her kids all together to teach the main message of this church. She invited her sister and nephew along too, and she had snacks for everyone! It was awesome! We taught the restoration to her whole family, and the spirit was there. It was incredible. As we were bearing our testimonies, we could see the tears in both the mom and her sister's eyes, and we knew that they were feeling the spirit too. I bore a strong testimony that I knew God loved their family so much, and He wanted the best for them. I knew it was true with my whole heart! We asked her if she would follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized. She said she would ONLY if she received an answer that it was all true. We told her we would help her and her two sons prepare for baptism on May 23rd! So pray for this family!!!!! It was such an incredible lesson.
4. We were getting dinner one night, when a man in the parking lot stopped me and asked if I was a missionary. I told him I was, and we talked about what our church believes in. He told me he was just reading in a Catholic newspaper about missionaries, and I only laughed and said, "There's no such thing as a coincidence!" He opened up to me and my companion about his life and how he was struggling. We bore testimony of the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ and how amazing it is. We told him he is never alone, that he always has his Father in heaven. He thanked us over and over, with tears in his eyes. I asked him if he wanted to say a prayer, so there we were - a 65 year old Catholic man and two young Mormon missionaries, kneeling in a restaurant parking lot, praying to God. I remembered then that this work that I'm doing is inviting ALL people to come unto Christ, no matter who they are.
This week was just full of so much. I have so much hope and love in my heart. I saw miracles happen. I saw God work miracles in me! He was able to make me so much more capable of sharing my talents and my testimony this week. I felt His love in everything I did. I am learning so much about how I can rely on my Father in Heaven every single day. Just by doing the little things, I know that I am coming closer to God. And I want to help every single person do the same!
Missionary work is not about me. It's not about you. It's about bringing other people closer to Christ. It's about helping other people feel the spirit. It's about loving everyone!
My eyes have been opened and my heart is more fully aware of the blessing and gifts of God.
I love you so much! ALL of you! Please continually pray and read your scriptures daily. I promise you God will answer your prayers and address your worries and fears. I promise you!
The day everything fell apart.... pero.... we found this really sweet building so obviously we had to take a picture. Plus we had a really good dinner with a really awesome lady right after this so it was really great.
The day our dinner appointment fell through... good thing we live in Little Mexico, but we're dumb and forgot utensils so we became cavemen for an hour or so :)
The house I now call home :) the people who live here are amazing and they have a pet squirrel named Ted. Doesn't get much cooler than that actually.
HI! So guess what!? I just finished MY FIRST WEEK IN THE MISSION FIELD. Hahaha and oh boy, it was a roller coaster.
There is a reason for the title of this email... almost everything that could go wrong this week went wrong. But BUTTTT there were also a great deal of miracles! Because God is amazing, and I know He wants us to feel His presence, even when we are struggling.
So pretty much... all of our appointments but a couple fell through, even a dinner appointment! None of our investigators were home, and the members we wanted to visit asked us to come back at a better time. So we spent a solid amount of time driving and trying to find new people to visit. We tracted in a park, in a couple neighborhoods, and even in a grocery store. We got yelled at for being white (hahah which was actually just so funny), and we got rejected quite a bit. Good ol' missionary life!
But through it all, my companion and I saw miracles. We hardly got lost this week, which sounds so small and insignificant, but it really was an answer to our prayers. Hermana Grubbs had prayed for at least one new investigator on Saturday, and we ran into a lady who happened to be a referral given to us from the Elders. She told us we could visit her this next week! We still don't know how interested she really is, but we are grateful that God answered that simple prayer of Hermana Grubbs!
On Saturday night, we were pretty much exhausted - physically and emotionally. We decided to try and find a less active family, though we weren't too sure where they lived. We were driving up and down a street, trying to decide if we should just go tracting, when a certain house stood out to me. So we go and knock, and sure enough? It was that family! She was so grateful to see us, and she asked us to come back this week. Definitely a miracle!
All in all, I haven't lost any faith in God, and I know for a fact that this companionship was inspired by God. We have gotten so close - learning how to laugh instead of cry and learning how to smile when we get rejected. It's been a blessing for sure, another one of God's tender mercies.
Yesterday while sitting in church, I looked around at the nearly empty chapel. My heart ached when I thought of how many people were there without their whole families. There are so many moms who come with only one child, so many families who have teenagers who choose not to come. But just as the pain entered my heart for these people, a sense of overwhelming love and appreciation filled me up for the people that WERE there, every single week. People who drive 20 to 30 miles or even more just to come to church. It's those people that inspire me every day to keep working.
This missionary work would be impossible without God - this work would be impossible without members. Be active in your area... go out with missionaries, give them a hug, give them referrals, bring friends to church, have missionaries over for dinner. Do all that you can to help this amazing work move forward. Because guess what? Your testimony, no matter how small it might feel sometimes, can and WILL change peoples lives. You just need to open your mouth! God promises all through the scriptures that He will always be with you. Look for those promises, pray for strength to share the gospel, and go out and do!
Sure, this week has been rough. But I know now with a surety that this work can't be done without God. I need the Holy Ghost, I need to repent daily, and I need the strength that comes from reading and studying the scriptures. Never before have I treasured the Book of Mormon this much! I am so excited every morning when I get to read for an hour during personal study because every single day, God answers my prayers and calms my worries through the stories and teachings in the Book of Mormon. It is incredible!
I love you all so much! I know that this is where I'm supposed to be. There's nowhere else in the world God needs me but right here in Omaha, Nebraska, teaching and serving and being with these people! Our loving Heavenly Father wants each and everyone of us to be happy. I can't even accurately describe how discouraging the majority of this week has been, but it's incredible to me to know that through it all, God was there. God was helping, preparing, and guiding me. I know it. It's something that I will never deny.
Well I finally made it! After struggling (like the struggle was beyond real) in the Mexico Airport and going through customs and immigration and all that jazz, I made it to Nebraska! Boy this place is something else.
The first people I met were President and Sister Weston. K, so they are the kindest. Sister Weston is the happiest lady and she made me feel right at home. Gave me a nice, big mama style hug so that was great. I was also able to talk to my family a little bit, although I couldn't get many words out due to my crying hahaha pero, esta bien. It was good to hear their voices.
I am here! We went through orientation and had lots of meetings, it was good. We got all of the information we needed. I also met EVERYONE that I had connected with on Facebook before the mission! But it was weird because when they saw me, they were like, "Brie!!!! Ohhh wait I mean Sister Gould!" Haha so weird to hear my name, but so good to see them!
The first few nights we stayed in a motel. There were 7 of us newbies, but I was the only one coming from the Mexico CCM. After hearing their stories, I'm beyond grateful I went to Mexico hahah I love that place, it is heaven.
So funny story. My trainer/companion is Hermana Grubbs!.... aannnddd I met her in the MTC haha so that means she has only been here for 5 weeks!!!!! It's kind of like the blind leading the blind at this point, which just means we have to work extra hard.
Sweet Hermana Grubbs. Isn't she a beauty.
Also her red hair makes me feel a little closer to family :)
I already love this area. There is so much work to be done! It was crazy, there were only 10 women in relief society, and there are only about 6 young women. They are strong members! I am so inspired by them! We have been told that 75% of the entire mission is in this Omaha West area alone! How crazy is that! And there are only 2 pairs of Spanish speaking missionaries in this whole area. That means there is so much to do! I know for a fact that we will never run out of doors to knock on! There are many lessons to be had.
Nebraska itself is not what I expected! I haven't seen any corn or cows yet haha but it did SNOW and there was a giant rainstorm last night! It took us an extra 20 minutes to drive home because it was so scary! They don't lie about these storms... they're awesome.
So lots of miracles happened this week. Lots.
This last Saturday, we had a ward activity with all of the primary kids. The four missionaries serving in that ward helped hide all of the Easter eggs, it was so fun! I was able to meet a lot of the ward members, which was awesome.
Anyway, after the activity, we decided to go to a park to do our studies. A few families were pulling up, and it just seemed perfect. I was too nervous to actually get up and go talk to them though! Luckily, Hermana Grubbs couldn't deny the promptings anymore, so we "stalked" (lol not really but it felt like it) a family, and just started to get to know them. One of the first things the mom asked was if we were nuns hahaha no. Not nuns.
The mom - Hannah - told us that her family "needed Jesus." It was perfect! I instantly felt so much love for this family. They were really interested in the Book of Mormon and the difference between that book and the Bible. We explained that they complemented and completed each other, and that both were testaments of Jesus Christ. They accepted the book, and we were able to get their number to set up a return appointment! We haven't been able to get a hold of them, but we are praying tons! They have two little kids, and the dad - Omar - speaks Spanish! He was born and raised in Mexico, so it was perfect! We just need to reconnect with them! We keep praying that God will bless their family, no matter if they call us back or not. But we have faith!
Hermana Grubbs and her last companion had trouble getting a hold of some less actives, but while we were out, we were able to find them AND they were home! Little miracles like that just kept happening this weekend. We were able to set up a lot of return appointments, and everyone allowed us to leave their house with a prayer. It was really cool!
The only not-amazing thing has been how many times we have gotten lost... like way too many to count lol we have one of those huge paper maps, and neither of us really know the area! It's pretty comical, really. I'm sure y'all would laugh if you saw us pulled to the side of the road, wrestling with a giant map. So we've been praying for more guidance too :)
Overall, these last few days have been something else. I've been so fired up to just reactive this whole ward, and find as many people as possible! This spirit is strong here in Omaha, and these people are awesome. I know that God will allow the hearts of these people to be softened. I know miracles will continue to happen every day.
It's still so crazy to me that I am here, on a mission. The second day we were here in the field, we went out tracting, in the crazy cold rain! I was so happy though, despite how uncomfortable I felt haha I just knew that I was doing the right thing. I love it.
I have never felt so uncomfortable in my life. I'm probably uncomfortable a good 80% of the day, every day! But that to me just proves that I'm at least doing something right. I've been told that I should never be comfortable one day on the mission. Wellllllllll... I'm doing good so far!
All in all, things are going really well. Thank you all for your love! And a special thank you to the Van Wagenen family!!!!!!! That package was such a huge surprise, I was so giddy! Haha
Pray for these lovely people in Omaha! And remember that you are never alone. Never ever ever. You've got so many people on your side, I promise.
I love you all so much!!! I'm lucky to know you all. I thank God constantly for all of you.
Brie shared a couple powerful messages about missionary work: * VIDEO: Missionary Work and the Atonement President Henry B. Eyring and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland talk about how the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is the motivation for Missionary Work in the Latter-Day Saint church. Music by: Ginger Fairbanks.
* * TALK: Feed My Sheep
The following talk was given by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland in the Missionary Training Center (MTC) on January 11, 2011.
Friends! Family! This is it! Tomorrow I'm headed back to America, and the real work starts. I am so excited. I am so ready! These last few days have been incredible and so bittersweet. I am the last of my district here... everyone left on Monday, and my sweet and beautiful companion left this morning. I admit I cried... a lot.. pero está bien. I feel at peace. I know God is here with me, always.
This experience has been amazing. I wouldn't trade these last 6 weeks for anything. I feel stronger already. I have made eternal friends... these people here have become my family. My capacity to love has just grown incredibly. I found myself just looking at my district and not understanding how I could love 7 people so much when they were only strangers 6 weeks ago. But its because we have all grown together. We have changed, and we have become better. We have cried together, laughed together.
I am eternally grateful for the memories and the friendships. I am grateful for my sweet companion here in the CCM. We had our last companionship prayer last night, and when she started to thank our Heavenly Father for this experience, we both just cried. The tears just streamed down my face in gratitude for this girl, Hermana Hudson, and for all of the amazing memories I have now.
I don't know I was blessed with the best district, the best group of people for ME, but I am beyond grateful. I know God is real. I pray every single night, knowing that someone is listening. He is real, His love is real, and His son lives. Jesus Christ lives.
I am ready now more than ever to be out in Nebraska. If I am capable to feel everything I've felt here in the CCM, I cant even imagine what the next 16 and a half months will feel like. I'm already anticipating a rough go next August when I have to leave.
But but but God always has something waiting. I had no idea who was waiting for me in the CCM, and turns out, a group of angels was waiting for me! Now I have no idea who is waiting for me in Nebraska, but I can only imagine that something real special is waiting. Someone real special. Lots of real special people! And oh I cant wait.
If you are questioning if God is real or not, pray. Test your faith. Look around you, this world is full of wonderful people and wonderful things. Dont dismiss Gods hand in your life as a coincidence, ok? Because God loves you so much, its amazing. Dont dismiss that love.
I too love all of you so much. Thank you for being with me this whole time, through the many ups and downs of these last 6 weeks! Now stay with me the next year or so, ok!?
Well this week sure has been interesting! From my teachers pulling the worst Aprils Fools Day prank ever and saying we had to stay an extra 6 weeks... to having one of our hermana companionships commit a lady at TRC to baptism, ITS BEEN CRAZY. Also yeah can't believe this is my last P Day until I am IN THE FIELD. How did time fly so fast!? This week was all sorts of goodness.
Our district just went on a little field trip!.... to the TEMPLE. Its was amazing! We couldn't actually go in to the temple because construction is being done, but we were able to spend a lot of time in the visitors center. The visitors center was incredible. So high-tech! Plus there was something familiar about the visitors center. It reminded me of America... is that weird to say...
Driving to and from the temple was quite the adventure. I have never been anywhere that was anything like Mexico City. There are colors everywhere, people crossing the street without bothering to look, too many cars to count... its crazy. I wanted to get out and explore, but we were stuck on the bus, with only the windows for our enjoyment. I cant even really describe Mexico City. Just so incredibly different than anywhere I've been. Its just buzzing with activity! It was exciting to be out of the CCM... after being in there for a solid 5 and a half weeks!
I love the CCM though. So much. Its my Mexican home :)
So this last Sunday after Sacrament Meeting, I started to feel awful. My stomach was aching, my head hurt, and I barely had an appetite. It continued on the whole night and into Monday morning. After breakfast Monday morning, I told my comp that I had to go to the nurse because something just wasn't right. Turns out, I had this issue which caused an inflammation in my intestines. Nasty, right? So I was told to rest for 12 to 14 hours.... 12 to 14 hours of resting TO ME sounds like a waste of time on a mission! So I only rested for like 4 hours... haha I slept and gained a bit more strength back to go to lunch so my comp could eat. After lunch, my body was like, ¨HA nope!¨ And the pain kicked back in again. So we headed back to our casa, and of course, the house was being fumigated for 3 hours! AGH. All was well, though. We packed up our language study materials and headed to the class to study. Sooo long story short... either the food here finally caught up with me or I caught some weird sickness that was floating around in the Mexican air. Or both. I think its both. Sticking to fruit and salad and toast and gallons of water this week.
Annyyyywho not important.
What iiisssss important is what I learned this week. To be completely honest, the fact that I am leaving the CCM in just a few days really does freak me out. Its like all of that anxiety that overcame me the last few days before I left home is coming right back again. Its nerve wracking knowing that Ill be teaching actual people in Spanish. Its sad knowing that I wont see these friends I've made here for 2 years or so. But I was taught a very valuable lesson before my mission which I didn't actually fully learn and understand until a few days ago. Before I left home, I was told that a ¨warm hello¨ was awaiting me in Mexico.
I wish I would've fully realized this my first week here, but it didn't hit me until I was sitting in my class, and my teacher said, ¨We all knew each other before this life, and we all promised each other we'd be here, in the CCM, together. And here we are! And now, you are going to go teach and be with more people you made promises to.¨ I sat there and was surprised by the forming tears in my eyes. I suddenly regretted not taking every moment to love these people with my whole heart. I felt guilty for not trying my best every single day, every single hour. But I remembered that advice I was given before I left... a warm hello is waiting for you.
The memories and friendships I have made here in the CCM will always be with me, but this chapter is ending, just like the chapter before the CCM ended when I stepped onto that plane to fly to Mexico. I understand now that in this life, we constantly going to be saying goodbye to people, whether it be for a short time or for longer. Its hard - I feel like the amount of goodbyes I have said in the last 6 months alone is just ridiculous, but I know this... there is a rhyme and reason behind everything. God knows exactly what we need and exactly when we need it. Plus how incredible is the plan of happiness put together by our loving Heavenly Father... we get to be with the people that we love FOREVER.
Being here in the CCM has taught me several things, but one lesson in particular that has really changed my life is the importance of humility. I found myself one night, just on my knees in the bathroom after my companion had fallen asleep, asking for help and forgiveness. Every day I am learning more about my Heavenly Father and my Savior, Jesus Christ. The more I am able to better understand the amazing and incredible gift of the Atonement, the more I realize how much I need it. I know now that in order to constantly feel the spirit in and out of my lessons with investigators, I NEED to be worthy.
So I want all of you to promise me one thing... as Easter is getting closer, do anything you can to be closer to Jesus Christ. Please. Every good thing in this life that lasts forever is because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. This is why I am here, serving a mission. Every soul deserves to feel the incredible love from God. Every soul deserves to know our Savior. No matter who you are or who you were, your Redeemer can literally change your life forever. Promise.
I am so grateful for these last 6 weeks. I have been stretched and pulled and made better every day. The memories I've made here are going to stay with me forever. Ah, I just love it here! I love this gospel! I love these other missionaries I am surrounded by daily! I love the Spanish language! And I love the fact that I get to spend 18 months teaching and preaching about my Savior Jesus Christ.
Because He lives, every single person, no matter what (seriously, not matter what), can feel true happiness in this life and in the life after. Just turn to Jesus Christ. Find him.
Yo sé que esta iglesia es verdadera y yo sé que Dios es realmente nuestro Padre Celestrial. Dios ayudará nosotros ser más bien cuando volvimos a él. Yo sé que yo necesito confiar en mi Hermano, Jesucristo, y no necesito tener miedo si tengo confianza en mi Salvador. Yo sé que por el poder del Espíritu Santo, puedo conocer la verdad de todas las cosas. El Espíritu Santo es un don de Dios. Es muy importanta a nosotros tenemos fe en Jesucristo y cuando oramos con fe a Dios, Dios contestará y dará más bendiciones, incluye gozo y consuelo. Dios quiere que todos Sus hijos sienten paz. Yo prometo que nostrosos damos nuestras vidas a Dios y confiamos en El, Dios puede cambiar nuestras corazones.
Lo siento if my español is no perfecto, pero yo sé que the main teacher is always the spirit.
I love you tons. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE. Really focus on your Savior this week. Try your best to love him with everything you've got.
Soo... considering this is my last P day in the MTC (AHHHHH), I decided to compile a list of tips and reminders to all of you who are either preparing for a mission or are thinking about serving. I've got so much more, but not enough time to share them all!
Here we go..
1. Its all true. All of it. Dont ever forget that testimony you have. I highly suggest you write down your testimony so you can refer back to it whenever you need to.
2. Study study study. I swear, the most amazing things will come out of studying. If you are prepared, God will help you when you teach. Study as much as you can. When your brain feels like its going to explode, youre doing it right. Promise.
3. Pray for your companion. Pray for them and their families right when you get your call. Pray that you will know how to help them and how to love them. Gain a testimony of the importance of having a companion early on in your mission.
4. Scriptures are vital. Personally, Im so glad I didnt buy new scriptures. They give you some in your missionary language, and I'm way grateful that I had my English scriptures already marked up from seminary and other church classes. But everyone is different, you might prefer to buy new ones! I just preferred using my regular ones.
5. Speak your language. Like legit. Try as hard as you can to speak your language. For Spanish, become best friends with the latinos or read from your Spanish Book of Mormon every day out loud. Speak it as often as you can. You might not know a lot, but use what you know.
6. Memorize. Memorize the classic scriptures BEFORE you start your mission. Like D&C 4, 1 Nephi 3:7, Moroni 10:3-5, the first vision in Joseph Smith History, etc. Your life will be 10x easier if you do this, I swear.
7. Learn how to love everyone. This might be one of the biggest and most beneficial lessons I have learned in the MTC. Pray for help in loving every single person you come in contact with.
8. Missionaries arent perfect. Boys are dumb, girls are dumb... even on a mission. I have some of the most ridiculous stories about people here who forgot they were on a mission... perrroooo... probably not my place to share.
9. Be exactly obedient. EXACTLY. Go to bed and wake up when youre supposed to. Study as long as youre supposed to. Follow the rules with exactness and I promise blessings will follow and miracles will happen.
10. Eat chocolate. If you are going to the Mexico MTC, go the tienda and buy a Kinder Bueno. Make sure you have money to buy one at least once a week the rest of the time you are there. Just trust me on this.
11. Bring pictures. Make sure you have picturess of your friends, your family, your pets, your home. There will be days when you just need to look at those pictures before doing anything else. Thats okay. Look at those pictures and let the love you have for the people in your life inspire you to work harder than ever.
12. Try your best not to feel discouraged. The first week will be tough, even more so if you are learning a language, but just remember that your call was inspired and that God is behind you every step of the way. Everyone learns at a different rate so please be patient with yourself.
13. Laugh! For the love of everything holy in this world, laugh! And laugh a lot. Missions are a fun and exciting time in life. Allow yourself to enjoy it, yeah?
14. GYM is heaven so dont waste one minute. Get out there and play a sport or go run... you will thank me later, promise.
15. Keep a transfer journal. Have everyone that you get to know sign a book with their testimony and email and make sure you take a picture with them. I promise youll want these memories later on.
16. Write down EVERYTHING. You might think you'll never forget about certain experiences or people, but you will. Get really good at writing everything down.
17. Remember. Its not our time anymore - we are on the Lords time. This isnt about us. We get the OPPORTUNITY to forget about ourselves for 18-24 months. So dont waste one day. Forget about your life back home, dont think about what you will be doing after the mission. Seriously focus every single day on the amazing work you are a part of. Its amazing. Do not waste one single day, you hear me?
18. A testimony isnt enough, YOU need to be converted.
19. Pray. All. The. Time. I promise you your prayers are being heard.
20. Love your companion. You have that companion for a reason. Figure out why you think God put you together and see what you can learn from your companion. Its sweet.
21. Take the MTC seriously! For reals. You wont regret the effort you put into every day. And a little advice from my elders to you young men out there... don't be idiots. Enough said,
22. Last but not least.... have fun. Enjoy yourself. Become best friends with the people around you. Laugh and laugh a lot! Be excited about the experience! Yeah, its hard... yeah its tough some days. But guess what? You are going to be just fine. I promise you. Here in the CCM, the devotionals are long and the classes are long and the meetings are long, but every single minute of every single day is just filled with the spirit. You will see yourself change without even realizing it if you just allow yourself to forget and go to work.
I LOVE YOU ALL.
If you have specific questions about the CCM or other questions about clothes or food or study materials, I got you! Just email me! Ive got the answers you need :)