Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Dear Family

This week we had a street display here in Kaiserslautern. What that means is we rent out an area in the fuß, put up a sign thingy that has some stuff written about the church on it (that was probably the most descriptive sentence I've ever typed. Kudos to me), and bring tons of books and pamphlets to give out to the hundreds of people who walk by! 


Oh my gosh, I'd only ever done one street display before, and it wasn't even in my area, so I was SUPER nervous...but it was honestly such a blast. Like, I was loving life. It was one of those oh-my-gosh-can-I-please-just-do-this-for-the-rest-of-my-life evenings (: the highlight of my night happened right at the very end—there was a group of three teenage boys who walked right by the display and kept looking back/doing double takes at it. I let them keep walking, but practically ran after them after hesitating for about 5 seconds. I explained who we were and what we were doing and they asked me to explain a little bit about what we believe as Mormons. After telling them about Joseph smith and the restoration of the church of Jesus Christ through him, I told them we were giving out a book—the "proof" that the message we share is true, and asked them each if they would like one. Two of them said yes, but the third said something along the lines of "no, the bible is enough for me". I ran back to the display station, grabbed three copies anyway, ran back to my boys, and began explaining exactly what the Book of Mormon is. By the end of my minute and a half spiel, the two boys had books in their hands, and the third said "whoa, wait...actually, I am very interested. Can I have one?" And I was like HECK YES YOU CAN HAVE ONE YOU BEAUTIFUL PERSON, YOU. 

Anyway. They're all three going to join the church one day for sure. I'll probably have to wait until the next life to hear about it, but that's okay. I'll be patient! 

You want to hear another incredible story?! 

About four and a half months ago, Sister Whicker and I contacted a teenage girl on the train. She accepted a Book of Mormon and gave us her address so we could visit her...but she lives in Kusel and ain't nobody got time to go all the way out to Kusel...that is, unless you switch your p-day and have a whole Monday afternoon to fill!!! Long story short, we went out there, found that old potential’s address, Klingeld...and she didn't answer. We had about 40 minutes until we had to head back to Bahnhoff to catch our train, so we started to do doors and we decided to begin with her building! We pressed the VERY NEXT Klingel...and you'll never believe what happened!! A young lady came to the door who didn't speak German (yup. You guessed it...from Albania), so she called her husband’s name, who came out to greet us! He immediately invited us inside and let us share a little bit about what we believe!! And? We set up a return appointment for Friday (IS THIS THE LORD’S WORK OR WHAT?!)!!! Haha we'd given them a Book of Mormon and as we were walking out the man grabbed a painting and gave it to us as a "return gift". 

I'm keeping it forever. 
This is literally the most fun, most exciting thing I've ever done in my entire life. 

Hope y'all had as great of a week as I did (: 
Talk to you next Monday!! 


PS: the temple was AMAZING (: I'm so glad I got to go one last time before it closes for a couple years!!!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Dear Family,



Ugh I’m totally going to butcher this story BECAUSE THERE WERE TOO MANY INCREDIBLE THINGS SAID AND FELT TO GIVE AN ACCURATE ACCOUNTING OF IT ALL, but I'll attempt to explain to the best of my abilities how Tuesday evening went down: 

Sister Whicker and I felt like we should go over the baptismal interview questions for our lesson. Bertrand's faith could be felt with every answer he gave, and the spirit was SO STRONG. At the end of the lesson we turned to him and were like "Bertrand, do you want to be baptized?!" We've asked that question more times than I could even begin to count (and the answer has always been “no”) but tonight he paused for a really long time then told us that last week, after praying one evening, he received assurance from the Holy Ghost that God would lead him to the right path. And you know what Bertrand said to that? "I can see really clearly where he's been leading me". We invited him to be baptized on the 1st of August, and he said "that's really soon. Give me two months. In those two months, I'll act like I'm already a member, I'll keep all the commandments and talk to my family and everything. I just want to make sure I'm ready". So we pulled out our calendar, pointed to the 12th of September and said "alright Bertrand, that's two months from now!! You want to set that as a goal and work towards being baptized on that day?" And he said yes and Sister Whicker and I just about had a happy aneurism. Our freude levels were off the charts. After Sister Whicker and I regained our composure we sat and listened to Bertrand go on for about 20 minutes about how happy he is and how far he has come and how much his faith is growing AND OH MEINE GUTE IT WAS THE BEST 20 MINUTES OF MY WHOLE LIFE. 



Ready for another awesome story?! 

Sister Whicker and I had a rough day on Thursday. We were on a train and ended up having a little bit of a breakdown party. I was comforting my companion, when we looked up and made eye contact with the lady sitting across from us, who had been zoned out and listening to music for the entire ride. Upon seeing my crying companion, she took her headphones off and asked "is everything alright?" We assured her everything was okay, that we were just having a little bit of rough day, and then she asked us the most heaven-inspired, spiritually prompted question I've heard thus far in my mission:

"Why are you here?" 

Sister Whicker and my tears immediately stopped, and she continued "I know who you are. You're Mormons! You leave your family and friends and home and work for the church...why? Isn't that hard? Why do you do what you're doing?" 

Obviously, a comment like that caused for some serious self-reflection, and after taking some time to think, I responded. Honestly, I can't even remember what was said, but whatever it lead to a discussion with this lady (Mary) about Jesus Christ and His restored gospel. 

Mary isn't religious—her mom died when she was 15, leaving her parentless, and she's had a bitter taste in her mouth about God and religion ever since. We bore testimony about our purpose here on earth—to be tried and tested so that we can learn and grow and assured her that throughout life's struggles and challenges, Christ Himself is right there beside us—helping us, lifting us, encouraging us. We bore testimony that one of the ways he does that is through other people "just take today for example", we said "here we are, crying over what are ultimately really little, insignificant things, and God cared enough to send YOU to talk to us, to help us remember why we're here and what is really important". By the end of our conversation, we'd given Mary a Book of Mormon, And shed given us her number and told us to please give it to the Sisters in Mannheim so she could meet with them(: just to add a level of miracle to the story, Mary has actually already run into missionaries before!! They'd exchanged numbers and planned on meeting and everything, but it never ended up happening (because the elders were too pushy, she said). 

Moral of the story? God works in mysterious ways (namely, broken hearts and teary eyes)...and when it comes to furthering this work, he's the best user of resources (two broken down sister missionaries having a train-ride cry party, included). 

I'm so grateful for this work!! 
I'm so grateful for all the miracles God has allowed me to witness. 
I'm so grateful that even my hardest days out here still rank as some of the most incredible of my whole life. 

Love y’all lots <3 
Have a great week! 

- Brookie

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Dear family,

With all the P-day craziness last week, I totally forgot to give y'all the full low-down on all things Shirley. Man, I love her. She was raised by a physically and emotionally abusive mom who she ran away from at the age of 14. She spent about a year in a homeless shelter before making her way over to her father in Frankenstein, who converted to Mormonism while Shirley was living with her mom. Although inactive, his first thought was "Shirley needs to learn about the church!!" So he called the missionaries over. About a year passed with little progress towards baptism, and in one last attempt to "save" her, the elders handed her over to us...and the rest is history (: Getting to know that girl and being a part of her conversion process will definitely remain one of the highlights of my mission. She's more like a sister than an investigator—a lifelong friend, no doubt. 

And now for this week’s miracles... 

On Thursday, we were on a train today headed out to Eisenbach-Matzenbach to contact a referral. We sat down next to and talked with a guy from Thailand, who was visiting a friend in Kaiserslautern and was heading back home to Saarbrucken. We had to get off at Landstuhl to switch trains (which I've done about 100 times), and about 20 minutes into our conversation I noticed the train was stopped. So, I looked outside to make sure we weren't in Landstuhl and then kept talking because we weren't.


As the train started moving, I looked out the window again just in time to see the big "Landstuhl" sign behind us...not only had I not recognized this place that I've been to at least 6000 times, but I hadn't heard it called over the train intercom either. Thank goodness, because at that point we hadn't asked him for contact information or anything...we would have hopped off the train and he would have been gone and that would have been no bueno...which the Lord knew...so He worked his divine intervention magic and kept us on that train a little longer. (: Before getting off at the next stop about 30 seconds away, we got his email and number and he agreed to meet up with the missionaries in his area!!! 

Pretty sweet, huh?!? 
Haha, Just wait 'til you hear this next one. 

Last week, the elders over in Ramstein gave us the name and number of a lady who lives a couple villages down from them (they only work with Americans, so any Germans they find get handed over to us or the elders). We called her and set up an appointment...which went down in history as the most incredible lesson. On earth. Ever. 

I know what I'm about to tell you sounds...made up? Staged? Like we were being hoaxed? But I swear to you it was legit. Ready? Okay. 

We sat down and asked her about her religious background and she explained that she and her husband were Catolish, but her kids are Evangelish because she doesn't believe in people being baptized as babies. "It's a decision we should make when we're responsible to make it," she said "and babies are definitely not responsible." Her kids chose for themselves which religion they wanted to associate with...and we were like "oh my goodness, how neat! We believe that exact thing". 

Then she began to express some frustrations she has with her denomination. The church has so much money, and none of it goes to help the poor and needy. She said "you have the church leaders sitting on tons and tons of cash, while so many of their followers have absolutely nothing." Umm...fast offerings, anyone!? 

Then we talked about God, bore testimony that he's the literal father of our spirits with a body of flesh and bone. To which she responded "yes! The Catolish church teaches the trinity, but I've always known God and Christ were two different beings. And the scriptures teach that Christ is the express image of God...and Christ had a body, so of course God has a body, too!" Sister Whicker and I just looked at each other, wide-eyed and opened mouthed, with “did she really just say that?” expressions plastered on our faces. 

Then we started talking about prophets. We asked her if she believed the prophets she read about in the Bible were called of God and guess what she said… "Yes! Of course! And I believe there are prophets today, too!" then Sister Whicker and I paused, thinking she was going to go off on some crazy tangent about some next door neighbor prophet person, so we asked her who she believes the prophet(s) to be, to which she responded with something along the lines of "I don't know...but there must be. Why wouldn't God call prophets for us today when He has in the past? I WAS LIKE OHHHHHHH MY GOSH SOMEONE PINCH ME THERE IS NO WAY THIS LADY IS REAL.

But wait. It gets better. Finally, we got to (wait for it) JOSEPH SMITH. We began explaining who he was...and then Frau Perfect (Pretty fitting nickname, huh?) chimed in. 

"He...he lived in the country, didn't he?" 
"Yeah!" We responded. 
"And he was a farmer. And his family was really poor." 
“Yes, exactly...have you been reading about him?" We asked. 
"No....somehow I just know. He...he had a vision or something, didn't he?" 

...What was my reaction, you may ask?

I burst out laughing. 

Oh my gosh I'm such a mess. 
Don’t judge me. 

It was just the most ridiculously amazing lesson ever and all my excitement and bewilderment came out in the form of giggles (which I'm sure made a really, really good impression). 

Once I got a hold of myself, we showed a little bit of the restoration video, and afterwards asked her how she felt while she was watching it. And she said "This all just sounds so familiar to me—like this isn't the first time I'm hearing it." Then she asked us what she had to change in order to become a member. She doesn't smoke or drink (and I quote: "you're not in control when you do those things!!!"), she believes in being chaste...you name it, SHE ALREADY BELIEVES IT. I literally looked at her and was like "nothing. You have to change nothing, you are perfect." Hahaha she really is, though!!! We invited her to be baptized, and she said that she'd read in the Book of Mormon and pray to know if she's found the truth and then would most definitely be baptized if the answer is yes!!! AND IT WILL BE SO UMMM I THINK THIS CALLS FOR A CELEBRATION. 

I know that story sounds way too good to be true...BUT I SWEAR IT WAS REAL LIFE!!! goshhhhhh it was amazing. Alma 16:16-17 sums up EXACTLY what happened: 

16 And there was no inequality among them; the Lord did pour out his Spirit on all the face of the land to prepare the minds of the children of men, or to prepare their hearts to receive the word which should be taught among them at the time of his coming-- 
17 That they might not be hardened against the word, that they might not be unbelieving, and go on to destruction, but that they might receive the word with joy, and as a branch be grafted into the true vine, that they might enter into the rest of the Lord their God. 

The Lord is opening minds and softening hearts!!! He's pouring out his spirit upon his children!! People are receiving his word with joy, so don't be afraid to share it!!!! 

I love y'all lots!! 
Hope you have a great week!!(: 



Monday, July 6, 2015

Dear Family,

The lovely Sister Whicker and I have been partying it up this week. Want to know why? 

Lucky for her, I am the pity party QUEEN (we may or may not have eaten ice cream every day this week. Multiple times a day. don’t judge).  

Actually, we probably would have bought ice cream everyday anyway...because there is WIND FROM THE SAHARA making it unusually hot and just a little bit miserable. 


But really, you'd think that 18 years in San Antonio would have prepared me a little better for this heat...haha think again. I’m dying right alongside all the Germans!!  

Breakups and the weather aside...IT WAS SUCH A WONDERFUL WEEK. 

Oh my goodness, it was an amazing service. There were two big activities going on in our stake, so we assumed there wouldn’t be very many people there, but by the time everything was over, we had set up two extra rows of seats! The people just kept coming and coming! I gave a talk about baptism and her father gave a talk about the Holy Ghost. Sister Whicker was supposed to sing, but she lost her voice...so a bunch of elders from our zone saved the day and performed a musical number! There was a great turnout from the branch; we had a few new converts there and a couple of investigators too!!! AHHH IT WAS PERFECT.  

I’m gonna keep this one short this week because, honestly, we were so focused on getting this baptism together that not too much else happened!!  

Love y’all lots!!! 
Hope you have a great week! (: 
Stay cool! Enjoy the AC...We don’t have any here in Germany!!  

- Brookie