Monday, August 31, 2015

Dear family,

I'm about to tell you the saddest story you've ever heard. 
Please get your tissues ready.  

We were headed over to an appointment on Saturday and were talking to people on the Ubahn. I contacted the man sitting next to me, then he left, so I waited for the next person to come up and sit down so I could talk with them! After about three stops, no one had sat down, so I turned to talk to a man sitting across the aisle from me. As I scooted over, the spirit spoke to me and said “Wait for the person who's going to get on at the next stop". So I waited. And sure enough, the Ubahn stopped and a teenage boy sat down next to me. After talking for a little bit he asked me what I was doing here in Germany. I explained my calling as a missionary and asked if he was religious. He was like "ehh, sometimes more, sometimes less." I asked, "well, why sometimes less?" And he explained that it's hard for him to believe in God when there are so many bad things that happen in the world..."I don't know" he said "maybe this life is just kind of a test, you know?" I pulled out my handy dandy Book of Mormon and read with him in Alma 34 about the purpose of this life and bore testimony that there is a God and we go through challenges so that we can learn and grow and prepare to meet him again one day! We continued talking for quite a while...but because I still don't know this area very well the stop we had to get off at SNUCK UP ON ME just as he was pulling out his phone to give me his number so he could learn more. I saw my companion getting up to get off, so I had to jump up and go without having received any means to be able to contact this golden Bahn boy AND MY HEART STILL HURTS EVERYTIME I THINK ABOUT IT. I couldn't even give him OUR number Because, hello, my name is Sister Terry and I'm a failure and had ZERO cards with our number on them....I did manage to get a Book of Mormon into his hands before bolting off the bahn though (which he was SUPER excited to have)! No worries though, the Lord will lead him to us again. If not Sister Parker and I, then missionaries in the future, for sure! He was SO ready for the gospel.  

We had an experience similar to that on the way home from MLC on Friday (minus the tragic cliff hanger ending part). We sat next to a man named Christian. We asked him where he was headed and what he was up to, then the topic turned to religion (klar). We asked him if he believed in God, to which he respond "I don't think there is one. If there were, there wouldn't be so many horrible things going on in the world. Tell me. If God exists, why do such bad things happen to people who don't do anything wrong?" A lot of times, when people ask us a question like that, it's loaded. It's asked with the intent of convincing us we're wrong...but Christian was wearing his heart on his sleeve. We could sense his sincerity! We talked for the next 45 minutes straight about God, bearing testimony of the fact that he is not only our creator, but our loving father, as well. We promised him that if he prayed, he could come to know that for himself. He asked "how? How will I know?! How will I get an answer?" We introduced him to the Book of Mormon, read a passage with him to help answer his question and he was like "this is even more beautifully written than the bible!" (Moroni, man. He has a way with words). We told him he could have it, and he promised that not only would he read it, but he'd pray about it as well.  

Listen y’all. I don't know why some people are born into poverty. I don't know why some people are born into war—torn countries. I don't know why some people have to deal with abuse, with neglect, with hunger or death. But this much I do know—there IS a God. And He sent us here to be tested. Our trials and challenges aren't proof that there isn't a god. In fact, His love and support can be felt MOST clearly when we're going through struggles if we'll all just stop letting our circumstances close our hearts to his mercy and care.  

Gotta get going pretty soon....but before I do, I've got some exciting news... NAOMI IS GETTING BAPTIZED THIS WEEKEND and... HER SON IS, TOO!!!!  

Right after emailing last week, president called Sister Parker and I and told us not to postpone the baptism just because the font was broken. So we spent a good portion of this past week getting everything together and ready for that! We'd just been teaching her son the basics because we figured he was eight and didn't need all the lessons, anyway...and then we were reading in preach my gospel last night and realized that because neither of his parents are members—his actually constitutes as a convert baptism, too! How exciting, right?! Sister Parker and I definitely have our work cut out for us this week, but we are SUPER stoked (: We love this family so unbelievably much!!! Ahhh can it just be Saturday already?!  

Love y’all LOTS <3 
Talk to you soon!!!  

- Brookie

Monday, August 24, 2015

Dear family,

On Tuesday, we had THE MOST incredible experience after our lesson with one of our investigators, Angelica. The week before, our appointment with her fell out because she had a migraine. At the end of our lesson, she said she was starting on one again. As soon as she said that, my eyes flashed to the cup of coffee she'd been drinking throughout our lesson and in that exact same moment, the Holy Ghost spoke to me saying "if she stops drinking coffee, she'll stop having migraines". As Sister Parker and I were walking home, I turned to her and said "I think Angelica's health issues are word of wisdom related"...and guess what her response was? "Me too! I had a very distinct prompting at the end of that lesson that if she'd stop drinking coffee her headaches would go away" AND I WAS LIKE NO WAY ME TOO and then we basically peed ourselves due to excitement because HOW COOL IS THAT!? Anyway…We were just a LITTLE pumped to get back to her house on Friday to teach her about the word of wisdom and tell her about our experience...and oh my goodness. Let me tell you. Angelica is the most humble human being on planet earth. 

She was so accepting. Of everything. We started off by explaining what the word of wisdom is (what sort of things are prohibited—what sort of things are encouraged) and although she's addicted to cigarettes AND coffee, she was touched and committed to begin the process of removing those harmful substances from her life! After talking about the blessings promised to her if she keeps the word of wisdom we shared with her what the Holy Ghost had shared with us after our last lesson. 

I want y’all to put yourself in Angelica's shoes for two seconds: two twenty-year-old girls from America who can barely speak your native tongue tell you that the Holy Ghost told them that if you stop drinking coffee, the migraines which you've been plagued with your WHOLE life will go away. What would your response be? Rolling your eyes? Laughing? Doubt, no doubt. 

Howeverrrrr, Angelica responded by smiling. And nodding. And thanking God in her closing prayer for revealing that unto us. 

The good news doesn't stop there, though!! She came to church yesterday (that's two Sundays in a row!) and let us know that she hadn't drunk a cup of coffee since we left her house on Friday. 

Isn't she the greatest?! I love her so much!! Be sure to keep her and her fam in your prayers!!

Yesterday was just an awesome day in general. We ended studies early to pick up Naomi and her family (the investigators who live right above us) and as we were getting ready to walk out the door, we heard them coming down the stairs. I was like "oh mensch! I hope they're not going somewhere!" Right as I said that, our doorbell rang. 

Our investigator klingled US for church. 
Pretty sweet, huh? 

We walked over together, she sat down with her kids, and the members were SUPER welcoming. Made her feel like royalty!! One of the members even took her one-year-old son so she could sit and listen to the meeting! The baptismal font here in Duisburg is broken, so we're going to have to push back her and her son's baptism a couple weeks...which is a HUGE bummer because they're SO ready...but we're trying our best to stay patient!(: 

Another cool church experience yesterday—one of the ladies in our ward brought some random woman from the Ukraine with her. She just moved to Germany a few months ago and has no friends or family, so the member invited her so that she could get to know some people!! Everyone was sooooo friendly and made her feel incredibly welcome. One of our members even went up to her after the meeting, said "I can bring you to church next week!! And before we take you home, you can come eat lunch with me and my husband!" 

I just about cried. 
The ward here is AMAZING. 
This area in general is 
Words cannot express how much I'm loving life right now. 

Thanks for all the birthday wishes, y’all!! 
Hope you have a great week!!
- Brookie

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Dear family,

On Monday night, Sister Parker and I had our first split of the transfer. Sister Parker went to Bonn with Sister Gardner and I was left for the wolves here in the dirty d with Sister Carrol. Having only been in the area for four days you could say I was just slightly nervous for the inevitable disasters that would stem from my having no idea where I ever am or what I'm ever doing...However, it turned out to be a day of miracles from start to finish. 

Let's start with 3 AM, shall we? 

The alarm on my phone hasn't been on since I got here, but Sister Parker’s is always on so I just haven't worried about it. I went to bed the night before having totally forgot about it. I woke up at 3 AM to a voice saying "turn your phone alarm on" I did. And then I went back to sleep. And then I woke up at 6:30 like I was supposed to because THE HOLY GHOST WOKE ME UP AND REMINDED ME TO TURN ON MY ALARM. Man. He's always got my back, huh? 

After studies, we met with Kai! The Sisters met him in the train before I got here, but hadn't ever been able to set up an appointment. There was lots of confusion about where and when we were meeting, but the Lord worked everything out and we were able to have a super solid lesson!! He'd been reading in the Book of Mormon and has TONS of questions which we were able to clarify and explain. 

On our way home from meeting with him, I felt like we should get off the bus a stop early and walk the rest of the way home. When we got off the bus we saw a woman with a little boy across the street from us, so we walked over to talk with them. The lady was incredibly nice!!! We'd only been talking for about 30 seconds when she not only accepted a Book of Mormon, but gave us her address so we could stop by and talk more!! 

We continued walking home when we crossed paths with an African lady surrounded by a few kids. We stopped her, introduced ourselves, and started explaining a little bit about the church. We told her about the Book of Mormon and were like "actually, we have one in English in our apartment. It's just right around the corner! Can we go grab it real fast??" She walked with us over to our apartment, then walked us all the way back over to her house so we could know where she lives!!! She wants us to come over and teach her more!!! Yippppeeee (: 

On Thursday after zone training, we went on another split and I got to go to Munster with Sister Alves! On the way over there, we sat by a man from Africa named Mr. Johnson. We started talking to him about his family, and shortly found out that his wife had passed away a little while ago. After having just spent an entire day roll-playing teaching the plan of salvation (that's what the zone training was about), I knew it was no coincidence we were speaking with him. We asked him what he believed about life after death, and basically, he recited lesson two of preach my gospel verbatim. Like, we're talking "Christ preached to the spirits who were in prison" and everything. I couldn't believe how incredibly prepared he was. We talked to him the whole train ride home, and our response to just about everything he said was either "we believe that too" or "that's exactly what we teach as missionaries!" SUCH a neat experience. 

Basically, I'm loving life right now. This new calling is definitely teaching me a thing or two about sacrifice (any personal time I once had i.e. meal hours and bedtime is now completely taken up with meetings and phone calls and paperwork) but I honestly wouldn't have it any other way. That's what a mission’s about right? Giving it ALL to the lord. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to do just that (: Sister Parker and I are working extremely hard, but having an absolute blast at the same time. I think I've laughed more these last two weeks than I have in the entire last 11 months combined. We get along really well. Probably a little too well. We may or may not stay up and pillow talk every night until like 12:30....haha shhh. 

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


Monday, August 10, 2015

Dear family,

Good news. 
I'm in love with Duisberg.
And my companion. 
And my life. 
This place is so happenin', like y’all have no idea. 

We went over to a less active’s apartment named Koronka for a German lesson on Friday. She's from Bulgaria and doesn't speak much Deutsch, so we teach her! When we got there, she motioned for us to come inside and to wait a second while she ran to another apartment...and she came back with a friend!!! We got to know him for a little bit, and within a couple minutes, he had opened up to us about some things he's currently struggling with. He didn't go into too much detail, but he let us know he's dealing with a lot of guilt—so much guilt, in fact, that he hadn't really been sleeping for the last 3 days. We read with him in Alma 36 about Alma the younger whose soul, much like Peter’s, was wracked with pain and torment for the space of three days because of mistakes he had made and deep remorse he had felt. We bore testimony that those burdens, that weight, could be lifted from off his shoulders through Christ and His atonement. He told us that he's gone through periods of his life where he's felt very close to the Savior and can clearly see His hand, but that he always ends up unintentionally distancing himself from Christ. "I want to form a connection with the Lord that doesn't break" he said "and I don't think it's a coincidence that I'm sitting here with the two of you today." He repeated that over and over—that there was no way it was a coincidence that we met. Toward the end of the lesson, he even confided in us that the very night before he contemplated taking his life. 

Definitely not a coincidence that we met. 

I know the Lord knew what Peter was going through. 
I know the lord was aware of his struggles and cared deeply about his challenges. 
And I know His gospel provides the peace and hope that Peter, along with the rest of the world, so desperately needs. 

P.S. Peter came to church yesterday!!! Woohoo!!! 

On Saturday, we had a lesson with Naoimi, our upstairs neighbor!! She's from Nigeria and has 5 kids—Mighty, Progress, Princess, Dominion and Holy. (No, I'm not kidding you. Those are their actual names). The sisters met her a few weeks before I got here and had taught her a few lessons...and we were able to set a baptismal date with her for September 5th!!! 

Yup. Things are looking pretty good here in the dirty D (that's Duisburgs nickname, btdubbs). Between all the lessons we have and the added STL responsibilities, I constantly find myself praying that I can find time to do things like eat…and shower...and sleep...we're super crazy busy from sun up to sun down, but I'm loving every super crazy busy second(: 

Hope y'all are loving life!! 
Have a great week! 
Keep it real (: 


Monday, August 3, 2015

Dear family,

Here is an excerpt from the email I sent y'all after my first few days here in Kaiserslautern: 

“I’m so happy, I think I might explode. Seriously. I LOVE Kaiserslautern. I LOVE my branch. I LOVE my district and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my companion (WHOOOHOOOO)."

"Now. Allow me to expound."

"Kaiserslautern. Ktown. Lautern. You can call it whatever you want...but I call it heaven. It’s BEAUTIFUL. Gosh I wish you could see what sights grace my eyeballs every day. The city is pretty big (a lot bigger than Coburg, at least) but it’s still very German looking...and the dorfs (I can’t remember the English translate it) are POSTCARD PERFECT. Like, I’m in love, I’m in love, and I don’t care who knows it. The people are super sweet here, too!!...As of right now, we have no solid investigators, but the area seems pretty promising!” 

“The area seems pretty promising.” Ha. Was that the biggest understatement you've ever heard, or what? The miracles that I've seen here over the last five transfers surpass my wildest, most faith-filled dreams. I've seen the hand of the Lord so clearly, felt His love so deeply...and I am not leaving very happily. 

You read correctly. 
I've been transferred. 

I'll be headed to Duisburg on Thursday morning to serve as the Sister Training Leader over the Dortmund and Düsseldorf zones. 

How do I feel about that, you may ask? 

Story time. 

The other week, we were walking with a member and I was telling him about my siblings and where they've served. I said "Matt was called to Thailand, Ben was called to Slovenia, Seth served in California...and I was called to Kaiserslautern. Wait. No. Germany. I was called to Germany! Not just Kaiserslautern!" 

Needless to say, this place has become my new home. I literally feel like I'm being ripped away from my family again. You remember that girl Emily I sent y'all a picture of a couple weeks back? When they announced I was being transferred in sacrament meeting yesterday, she LOST it. I had no idea until after the meeting, when I went up to give her a hug and saw her sitting on her pew balling her eyes out. I said "oh my goodness Emily, what's the matter?! What happened?!" And she jumped up, wrapped her arms around me and said "I don't want you to go, Sister Terry!!!" My heart just about died. We stood there hugging for 10 minutes straight...then sat down and hugged for about 10 minutes more. We didn't really say anything, because any time she tried to open her mouth, nothing but sobs came out, but at one point, she managed to say "this is even harder than when I said goodbye to my own brother when he left on his mission!" I tried to change the subject by saying "hey! He comes home this week! Aren't you excited?!" which she shrugged her shoulders, opened her mouth to say something...and began crying again, instead. I tried to change the subject again by complimenting the rings she was wearing...and that sweet girl took the one off that said "love" and said "Thank you. I want you to keep this one" and she proceeded to tell me that her mom said they'd set her up an email so she could keep in contact with me and GUYS DO YOU SEE WHAT I’M LEAVING?!? THIS IS NOT JUST SOME LITTLE CITY WHOSE NAME NO ONE CAN PRONOUNCE THAT I SERVED IN AS A MISSIONARY. THIS IS MY HOME. THESE PEOPLE ARE MY FAMILY. MY HEART IS HERE IN KAISERSLAUTERN. HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO LEAVE?!? WHY AM I SUPPOSED TO LEAVE?! My heart is literally broken. My mind is pretty much in a constant state of turmoil. I DON’T WANT TO GO. 

On Friday, there was a big FCK game (it's a soccer team, not a swear word. Cool your jets, people) and, as usual, there were a bunch of stands set up around the city selling shirts and scarves and what not. Sister Whicker and I were taking our dinner hour and stopped so I could buy something. I got a shirt that has the words "Kaiserslautern. You'll never walk alone" printed on the front...which has way more significance to me than the motto of a team that plays in the world’s greatest city. When I first got into this area, I was still struggling a little to be out here in the field. My golden transfers were over, my darkest days had come and gone...yet I still found myself constantly daydreaming about coming down that escalator in March and counting down the days until it would be a reality. 

I still wanted to come home. 
I still wanted the mission to fly by.


Because I still felt alone. 
But not for long. 

I could sit and list off about 1’000 names of people I've met and relationships I've formed that helped with that (Emily. Evelyn. Edison. Shirley. Renato. The Eldridges. Donaldo. Other missionaries...Just to name a few), but above all else, it was the relationships I've developed with my Savior and Heavenly Father over the last 7 & 1/2 months that have helped most of all. 

With that said, I just want to second the testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith in D&C 76:22-24: 

“22 And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives! 23 For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father— 24 That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God.” 

Christ lives. 
And we are sons and daughters of a Father in Heaven who loves us. 
It doesn't matter who you are, what you’ve done or what you’ve been though... 
He loves you. 
So much so, that he sent his Only Begotten to suffer for your sorrows. 
So much so, that he allowed his Only Perfect to bleed for your blunders. 
So much so, that he has that same Only Perfectly Compassionate Son stand by your side every second of every day, so that you'll never walk alone. 

I'm beyond grateful for the experiences I’ve had here in Kaiserslautern that have helped me gain that knowledge. 

I'm beyond grateful for the angels I've met and friends I’ve made. 

I’m beyond grateful for the opportunity to have served here in "heaven" ...needless to say, there will always be a special place in my heart reserved just for KTown <3 

All good things must come to an end so other good things can begin...right?! 
Hahaha keep me in your prayers and wish me luck on this new adventure! 

Love y’all lots <3 

- Brookie