Monday, October 12, 2015

Dear family,

     Allow me to express how incredibly kind the lord is to me by sending you one of my journal entries from earlier this week (I'll be providing commentary in parenthesis, don’t you worry).

October 7, 2015 

     “Today was a pretty rough day. We had some members over last night until about 10:15 trying to fix our bathtub (our plumping is all backed up. everything we put down the sink comes up in our tub. Showering with noodles is no fun, in case you were wondering)...but they couldn't figure it out. They came back today and spent another hour working on it and ended up saying we'd just have to call someone else because they couldn't do it. Later on, we got a text from Leyeo saying "thanks for meeting with me, but I want to be atheist. Religion just isn't for me." LIKE WHAT?! Leyeo!!! No! I SAW YOUR FAITH GROWING BEFORE MY VERY EYES. YOU BELIEVE IN GOD. YOU KNOW HE’S THERE. WHY?! We texted him back...but he never responded. Ben texted us earlier this week and said something similar, actually. Something he heard during General Conference didn't resonate well because it was RIGHT after that second session that he started acting really funny. In addition, we have Dortmund zone training tomorrow and a) I get attitude from some people over there because of some super unnecessary drama that took place last transfer and b) we totally forgot to inform one of the companionships that they were giving a theme. AND ON TOP OF THAT, we're splitting with Hamm again because Sister L (I'm disguising her identity) is having a rough time."
     “Sister L's comp is Sister W. 
     Who I recently went on a split with. 
     And made cry (I was too intense for her...)” 
      “All those things, on top of usual missionary exhaustion, just kind of built up and I broke down a little bit on the train over to Hamm. Luckily, after meeting up with the Sisters there, it was pretty clear that Sister W. had no hard feelings towards me (she brought her lion stuffed animal (I named him joebob) to party with us) so that was a huge weight off my shoulders. The Sisters who we'd forgotten to call last week about the theme were super sweet, too! Then, on the train ride over to Dortmund, Sister Caselton (the mission nurse) called me!!!! I. Love. Sister. Caselton. I've gotten to talk with her quite a bit (between Sister Hallman’s bladder issues and other comps getting sick), and we've become really good friends!! Talking with her always brightens my day! Anyway, she called to see how my allergies were (FYI THEY’RE OUT OF CONTROL), but when I answered, I basically said "Sister Castleton, I need you to not be my nurse and be my mom instead". She asked me what was up, and I just vented to her on the phone about EVERYTHING for about 25 minutes straight and at the end of the conversation, she was like "you know what my prognosis is? Chocolate. You need chocolate." (Not only was the timing of the call inspired, but her advice was too!! That's EXACTLY what my mom would have said)!! When we got to Dortmund, the first thing I said to Sister Nielson was "do you have chocolate at your apartment??" She said "I think so…a little bit, at least" and then next thing I know, she's stopped at a kiosk buying 3 PACKAGES of Ritter sport. THE NUGOT KIND. She handed it to me and said "this is for you!"...and I literally started CRYING. HOW NICE WAS THAT?! I was walking to their apartment, reflecting on how many tender mercies the Lord had, in just a matter of hours, sent my way when a voice entered my head saying "you take care of my children and I'll take care of you." My brain flashed to last night when those members came over to fix our tub. It was after gemeinda rat and I was pretty much staving because we hadn't had time to take our dinner hour. Long story short, I was about to sit down and eat when the spirit prompted me to ask the members who came over to help if they wanted food, and we didn't have much so I just gave them everything we had. Afterwards, one of them turned to me and said "you are my Savior! I haven't had the chance to eat all day! Thank you thank you thank you!" I didn't think much more of that experience....until tonight when the Lord pushed the "repeat" button in my brain." 

     I don't tell you that story to toot my own horn, rather toot the Lord’s. I repeat: HE IS SO INCREDIBLY KIND TO ME. Every tiny good thing you or I do is returned with SHOWERS OF BLESSINGS AND TENDER MERCIES by The One who cares so deeply about each and every one of His children. Like King Benjamin, it's become pretty clear to me out here that no matter what we do, we will ALWAYS be indebted to the Lord. His kindness never ceases, He ALWAYS returns the favor and sometimes, He throws in chocolate, too (THE NUGOT KIND).
      But hey, back to that text I told y’all that Ben sent us earlier this week! He ended up agreeing to meet with us again and we asked what he thought about conference, hoping to be able to resolve his issues. He said that he wasn't too crazy about it because a) prophets and apostles are unnecessary because we can speak to God ourselves & b) the church seemed more political than religious with a bunch of old men at the helm who manipulate you and tell you what to do. No worries, though. The spirit took over from there and we were able to address all his concerns! We read with him in Ephesians 4 about prophets and why they're so important:
     11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 
     12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
      13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: 
     14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 
     We explained that there is a lot of confusing doctrine out there, lots of straight up junk, too...and prophets help us discern between right and wrong! Yes, we can receive personal revelation. Yes, God speaks to us as individuals, but when it comes to the church as a whole, the prophet is God’s go-to man!(: That's how it's always been!!
     Then we read the following snippet of President Monson’s talk and asked "does that sound like manipulation to you?”:
      "I am confident there are within our sphere of influence those who are lonely, those who are ill, and those who feel discouraged. Ours is the opportunity to help them and to lift their spirits. The Savior brought hope to the hopeless and strength to the weak. He healed the sick; He caused the lame to walk, the blind to see, the deaf to hear. He even raised the dead to life. Throughout His ministry He reached out in charity to any in need. As we emulate His example, we will bless lives, including our own" 
     If manipulating=testifying of Jesus Christ and encouraging us to be more like Him...then yes. That is EXACTLY what he was doing.
     Ben was so open hearted! The spirit really did touch him, and he thanked God in his prayer at the close of his lesson that we were able to give him such positive answers to the questions he's had!!

I hope all y’all had a great week!
We're going to köln today, so if a bunch of you don't hear from me, that's why!!
I'll make up for it next week, though!

Love y’all lots!!

- Brookie

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