Monday, August 29, 2011

A Lot of New Investigators

Querida Familia,

Hola Hola!! Sounds like you've all had a busy week! I'm super jealous of the girls all going back to school. Its really bizarre not to be doing the same.

Things are going well here. We found a lot of new investigators this past week, which is exciting. Maria y Luis seem to be doing well. We stopped by to talk to them for just a few minutes the other day, and I asked Luis if he had prayed about the Book of Mormon. He said he had, but he didn't get an answer. But, he said he thinks that means he needs to keep reading. Which is really good. I don't know why he didn't get an answer though, its kind of frustrating. I really think that he has the desire to know, I just don't know if he really believes that it possibly could be true- and that might be holding him back from getting an answer. Or maybe he just hasn't recognized the answer. I don't know. Its basically all Hermana Summers and I talk about during our companionship study, how to help him.

Well, I don't feel like I have any exciting stories for you today. Been a pretty normal week. Finding people, teaching people, being disappointed when people cancel appointments or don't show up for church, etc. The weather has been kind of spooky. We've seen some weird storms. Its a real reminder that Illinois is part of Tornado Alley. We were driving the other day to an appointment when it was storming, and we could see the clouds start to twist and turn into a funnel. Luckily, nothing came of it, but it was still super spooky.

We had an awesome lesson with one of our investigators Silvia this past Sunday, and we were able to have some of our friends Josh and Miel there. The spirit was so strong that Silvia shared some stuff about her difficulties with her boyfriend that she hasn't shared with us before. Josh was able to give her a blessing and he said some awesome things that had to be lead by the spirit. He didn't know that she has some girls in California that she wants to teach about the gospel and she wants them to get baptized. and in the blessing, Josh told her that she would go home and teach her family the gospel and be an example to them. It was awesome awesome awesome.

I LOVE YOU! Let me know how school goes!

Les Quiero,
Hermana Brown

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Pictures - Boone County Fair

Hermana Summers and Hermana Brown
English Sisters - Sister Brown and Sister Leahman

Hermana Brown and Hermana Summers
"Cheesin' it at the Boone County Fair"

Pictures - First Day in Chicago

"In Chicago!!"

Hermana Creson and Hermana Brown "In Chicago!!"

Reflection in "The Bean"

Pictures - Last Day at MTC

MTC District and teachers

Hermana Brown, Hermana Allred, Hermana Wilding (teacher) and Hermana Creson

Chicago group and Hermano Brown (teacher, who served in Chicago)

"Good, really good, but weird"


This week I will hit the three month mark of being a missionary. And one month in the field. Its still pretty surreal for me at times. I am still often hit with the realization that I am a missionary and this is my life for the next 15 more months, and its still really weird. Good, really good, but weird. Its also super weird, just like you said mom, that I'm not starting school. I can't believe it.

This week has been pretty good. Our investigator, Sergio, who had a date set to get baptized this Saturday, got a new job a couple weeks ago, and we haven't been able to meet with him since. We've been pretty worried, and wondering if he had just flaked on us and didn't want to get baptized anymore. So last Sunday we decided to go down to DeKalb to see if we could find him at home. We knocked on his door and no one was home. So we walked back to our car that was parked down the street and sat in it trying to figure out what to do. Hermana Summers started making phone calls, and I just sat there and prayed that we would be able to find Sergio. And guess what happened! He pulled into his driveway! Of course, we didn't want to look like creepers, so we left and walked around a cemetery (I know we still sound like creepers), and then went back. He was out front working on his car and we were able to talk to him for a few minutes. Turns out that his work really has just been super crazy, but he couldn't take it anymore and actually told his boss he quit the night before. He told us he was going to North Carolina for the next 5 days to visit some friends (who are members), but when he got back he wanted to be baptized as soon as possible. Without us asking he even reassured all of our fears that he had some things that he was feeling guilty about and that’s why he wasn't getting back to us. We didn't ask, but he told us that the reason he is single is because all the women who are interested want to break the law of chastity, and he won't do that, and that because he's single people have thought he was gay, but he's not, he just is looking for the right woman with the same standards. He's pretty much the bomb. com. He told us to call the branch president for him and tell the president that he's sorry he hasn't been to church. So hopefully when he comes back we can get everything set up and get him baptized by the end of the month!

Yesterday we didn't have any appointments or anything planned, and we were pretty bummed because we knew it meant a lot of knocking doors. We were planning on tracting our guts out all afternoon. We started by going to a neighborhood that we didn't even know existed to follow up on someone we had met elsewhere, but lived in this neighborhood. It is a newer subdivision, and looked pretty well to do. So to be honest, we weren't expecting very many Hispanic families. But we decided to start at the end of the street anyway, and make our way up to this address that we had to follow up on. The first house we knocked was a Hispanic family, and the man who we talked to had some awesome answers to the questions we asked. When we asked its important to him to follow Jesus Christ, he did not give us the typical wishy washy answers we get, but said that its important to follow Christ so that we can have eternal life! We have a return appointment with him and his family this Saturday. The next house we knocked was another Hispanic family! At home was la abuela, Tonya, y su hija, Fabiola. Tonya was babysitting, but she invited us in and then while she was getting the little boy ready to go home, Fabiola came in and talked with us. It turns out that she was actually taught a little while ago by missionaries (my MTC teacher Hermano Brown) and had been to church a couple of times. She said she had a lot of questions about all of the churches she was investigating and a lot of doubts. We had a really good chat with her about how to resolve doubts and get answers, and then we talked about the first lesson. She was pretty involved, answering questions and everything, she seemed to remember a lot. While we were talking, Tonya was in and out, but when Hermana Summers was relating the first vision she was standing right behind our couch and listening very intently. After we finished up talking about the Book of Mormon and everything we asked Fabiola if she would start reading the Book of Mormon again and pray about it. Fabiola said she didn't know how to recognize answers from God, and she doesn't know how to tell if they come from God or from herself. While we were talking about his Tonya came in and sat down on the couch next to Fabiola. We continued to talk and I felt the Spirit really strongly, but Tonya was really quiet the whole time, kind of sitting with her arms crossed looking like she didn't agree. So when it felt like we were about to wrap up, I asked Tonya what she was thinking. And oh boy, did she tell us what she was thinking. For at least an hour she just talked and talked and talked. But it was all good, if I didn't know I would have sworn she's a member, a lot of what she said she believed can all be found in the Book of Mormon! She talked about the Holy Ghost and the difficulties her daughter is having recognizing it, she talked about how she doesn't like that the Catholic Church has so many saints and idols or "imagenes" (which is SUPER prevalent in the Hispanic community, especially with la virgen) and then she just talked and talked some more. It was really good what she was saying, but geez, it was a long time, and we needed to go do more work! While she was talking though, her husband came in. Usually if a family member comes into the house while we're teaching someone, they'll see us there and then make themselves scarce. But he came in, got something to eat, and then sat down a little bit out of the way, on the stairs, but was definitely listening. Anyway, we were finally able to invite Tonya to read the Book of Mormon, and she said she was bad eyes, but Fabiola is going to read to her (hopefully.) We set a return appointment with them for Saturday, and as we were leaving I made sure to give the husband, Guadalupe, a pamphlet about the Restoration so that he could know what we were talking about. So in two hours of "tracting" we knocked two doors, got two return appointments, one lesson, and at least two new investigators. It was awesome.

We decided to spend the rest of the evening finding some other investigators who we hadn't had set appointments with for that week, and we were able to find Maria y Luis, who are doing awesome. Luis is reading, hadn't prayed about it yet, but reading and he said it’s weird, but good. It’s good that he realizes it is something different, I'm really starting to get sick of hearing, "its the same as the catholic church." Maria even got him to pray with us at the end of our lesson. We talked about prophets and authority, which I think was good. Maria seems to think the idea of a prophet is a little weird. She kept getting the giggles, but it turns out she didn't understand a lot about Biblical prophets either, so Luis got to take a turn helping us teach about that. Oh man, they are such a great couple. I love them. Keep them in your prayers!! It’s helping!

Well. I think that’s all I've got for now. Love you all, keep the letters coming!!

Les Quiero,
Hermana Brown

Sunday, August 14, 2011

"You really believe that?"



I got the box with all of the stationary in it! Its super cute, I just wish I actually had time to write letters. Geez I'm so behind. I have to write SO many people back and I feel bad every week when I don't get the time to. If any of them read this blog, I hope they know that I really am trying. I didn't forget about them!

Well. Things are going pretty well here. Our investigators are all doing about the same, the ones that are progressing are continually progressing, and the ones that aren't- well they seem to be avoiding us. We have been working at finding more people, but we haven't had a lot of time. We have a ton of referrals we need to follow up on in Beloit, but all of the numbers are bad, and we only spend one or two days in Beloit a week- and most of our investigators are up there. Its pretty crazy trying to find time to do everything we need to do.

We have had a little bit of discouragement with the branch. It seems like every single family in the branch is having issues of some king, generally marital- and its making it difficult for everyone to be united. Also, a lot of the women are very clique-y and gossipy. Its hurting a lot of the hermanas in the word. One hermana told us that the only reason she still comes to church is because she has a calling- she is a return missionary, super strong testimony, but because her marriage is suffering and the women in the branch have offended her so much, she says its hard to come. In relief society this week the president spent the whole time talking about how words can hurt people and that we need to not be gossipy and spread rumors. That night we visited a family and another family was over and they were talking about how ridiculous the lesson was and that we don't need it. Of course these two women are the most gossipy women in the branch. Its just really frustrating. We feel like its hard to try to build the branch and get baptisms when its falling apart from within. We spent the last two days visiting primarily members, just trying to bring the spirit. But its rough.

Update on Maria y Luis. We went to their Bible study again last week, and Maria seemed really happy to see us. We had to leave early because Hermana Summers was feeling sick, and Maria seemed really sad to see us go. We stopped by the next day to explain why we had to leave and to make another appointment, and she wanted us to just come in right then, but we had another appointment we had to go to so we couldn't. Last night we had our first real appointment with her after her bad experience concerning the Book of Mormon. The last couple of appointments Luis hasn't participated at all, so it was just Hermana Summers and I, Maria, and her little boy. We started talking and she said she still just feels bad about reading it, and maybe its not her time. We were going to just testify and let it go, we didn't want to pressure. So I read her what Christ says in the Sermon on the Mount about knowing a tree by its fruit, and while one of us (I don't remember who) was bearing their testimony about the Book of Mormon, Luis came out. Luis asked us if the Bible talks about the Book of Mormon. I had a couple scriptures marked in the Bible, where it talks about the stick of Judah and the stick of Joseph, where Christ talks about having sheep that are not of this fold, etc, so I hesitantly started to share those and talk about why they make sense to me and why the Book of Mormon makes sense to me. I was terrified, because A) I didn't know if he just wanted to ask questions to cause contention or if he really just wanted to know, and B) because I have never talked so much in a lesson in Spanish. I was shaking and my heart was pounding. Hermana Summers said that my face was bright red, which is embarrassing, but whatever. After we had read these scriptures together and talked about them he had more questions about what the Book of Mormon actually is. He was confused about why we would need it if we had the Bible. We just told him that it doesn't take away from or add to the Bible and that the real question for us is that if we have something more from Christ about how to follow him, why would we not want to read it? It was actually interesting at this point because Maria started helping us teach almost. She was like agreeing with us and telling him about how the Bible tells us what is going to happen and what happened in Jerusalem, and the Book of Mormon tells us about what happened in the Americas. We had him read the whole introduction to the Book of Mormon so he could understand more about what it was, he had a lot of questions about who Mormon was and things like that. Then we asked him what he thought about the promise at the end. He said he doesn't think God has ever answered any of his questions before, and how would he receive an answer. At this Maria really got involved in the lesson and was telling him it was because he doesn't have enough faith, or he didn't really want to know the answer to his questions. It was kind of funny. We just talked about the steps we need to take when we ask God something, how we need to have real intent to act on the answer we get and we have to really want to know. We also talked about the Holy Ghost and how He guides us and gives us answers. We read the Moroni 10:3-5, and then I told him if that if he really wanted to have God answer a question that he had, that if he would read part of the Book of Mormon and pray to know if it was true, he would get an answer. He asked, "You really believe that?" and I responded, "I know! I promise you!" It was really awesome for me to feel that so sure in my response. We gave him Alma 32 to read, because he has so many questions about faith and its just an awesome chapter, even if it is a little long. He said that he'll read it this week. And I know if that if he really does, and really prays about it and gets the answer I know he can get if he really wants to know, that this will change everything for Maria. I feel like this can be a huge answer to prayers.

But yeah, keep up those prayers for Maria y Luis. They need them. I have a lot of hope for them. Plus their little boy is the cutest thing ever. He just BARELY started to walk on Monday and he is adorable.

I hope you guys have an AWESOME time at Bear Lake! I'm super jealous. I love you all!

Hermana Brown

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Little Mix Up



Things are going pretty well here. Nothing too exciting has happened like that first week. Our investigator with a baptismal date got a new job and now we haven't heard from him or been able to find him in a week, which is really nerve wracking. We have three other investigators that want to get baptized as soon as they can get married or get their significant other to move out, but I don't know if any of that will happen any time soon. We also have an investigator who is doing super great, her name is Maru, and I just love her. She is really loving the Book of Mormon and everything that we teach her, unfortunately she doesn't drive, and she lives up in Beloit, Wisconsin and the only Spanish branch is down here in Rockford, about 20 minutes away. Also, her husband has a "hard heart" and is not interested at all and she doesn't want to do anything like go to church with young kids that far away, or even get baptized without his support. But I really feel like she would be baptized in a heart beat if he was just a little more open.
Oh, I do have one story from this week. It was pretty awful. We have another investigator up in Beloit, Silvia, who is super awesome and wants to get baptized as soon as her novio goes back to Mexico (which could be next year :( ), and she wanted to go to church last week. We even arranged with a couple in Beloit that are also investigating to give her a ride down, because her car is broken. They all talked and we thought everything was set up, but right before church started we got a text message from Silvia asking us if the couple, Rosario y Agustin, were still coming. We called Rosario and asked if they were, and she said yes, so we weren't worried about it. Until Rosario y Agustin showed up to church WITHOUT Silvia. We asked Agustin what happened and he said that when they talked, Silvia told them she would call them if her novio gave her permission to go to church. But when we talked to Silvia she said she told them she'd call if her boyfriend ended up not working on Sunday and she wouldn't need a ride. So- Silvia who REALLY wanted to come, because of miscommunication, ended up getting left in Wisconsin. It was so sad. It was a just a stressful day because of that, and we felt bad for Silvia, and Rosario felt terrible, so we felt bad she felt bad. . . you get the picture.

Besides that mix up, things are good. I'm really liking the area, and I love Hermana Summers. I am so lucky to have such an awesome trainer. Our area is huge, it goes up to Beloit, and down to a town called DeKalb. We do a lot of driving, and we have a limit on how many miles we are supposed to use, that we went way last month. Its hard though when we have investigators on both of the extremes of our area.

You asked if I've had any interesting food yet. Nope. Only three Mexican food meals, one was carne asada tacos, one was huevos, frijoles, and old tortilla pieces that they fried up and drenched in a sauce, and the other meal was a mexican soup with hominy in it. All in all, pretty tame. No worries mom, I'm eating much more American food. We don't eat dinner with members often, we have a couple of standing appointments, but they seem to get cancelled a lot. Our most regular eating appointment is with Rosario y Agustin, up in Beloit, and I have hope for weird food with them. Hermana Summers said that Rosario once put a pig foot in their soup. :P

" Do you walk or have a car? " Like I said, our area is huge, so we have to have a car. And none of our investigators live near enough to each other to just park and walk. But we do get a good amount of walking when we're knocking doors.

"How is the heat and humidity? " Usually its not too bad. The last couple of days have been pretty hot. I have never sweat so much in my life, to be honest. Yesterday we could only be out knocking for 40 minutes before we started feeling sick from the heat. We are drinking lots of water though, and if we get let into a house they almost always offer us a bottle of water.

"How is your ankle doing? " Pretty good. I'm trying to get used to not wearing the brace as much, as it gives me blisters and sores, but I always wear it if when we are out proselyting.

Well. I think thats about all I got for this week. I love you. I hope everything is going well. I'm excited for the package with something from Magical Moon in it! :)

Les Quiero,
Hermana Brown

PS. I do have a couple of pictures from my first day in Chicago, and our last day in the MTC that I still need to get developed, but whenever I do, I'll make sure to send them to you.