Monday, May 22, 2017

The last one...#goodbyeMN

It's insane that this is the last email I'll be writing from my mission...I've learned so much the past 18 months, and a piece of my heart will be left in Minnesota when I leave on Wednesday. Serving a mission was the best decision I could have ever made for my life, and I'll forever be blessed to know the people I now love with all of my heart! I'll write about the past week and then share some more gushy spiritual stuff you can skip over if you want :)

BIG SHOUT OUT to the Hmong branch for surprising me with lunch at my favorite Hmong restaurant and for all the souvenirs: kuv hlub koj thiab kuv zoo siab kuv muaj lub cim fim paub nej! Also shoutout to the inventor of Whirlyball for renting out the entire complex for us and letting us play! (Bumper cars + lacrosse + basketball = best sport ever)

President Russell M. Nelson came which was INCREDIBLE. The entire mission was there and everyone got to shake his hand. Elder Craig C. Christensen came too and gave us a training as well. It was SO GOOD, I've got about 5 pages jam-packed with notes from it all. Later that evening they did a special devotional for all the YSA in the Twin Cities. I got to see four of my recent converts there- I'm especially grateful I got to see Taylor!! Taylor got baptized right after I got transferred to the YSA and I was totally devastated I wouldn't be at her baptism. But she came to the devotional and when we saw each other we booked it over and started crying...she is so amazing!!! She said, "Whenever people talk to me about my conversion I always tell them Sister Brett was the one who changed my life. You were the only one who stuck it out with me even when I wouldn't listen and was always wasted when you came over. But my life is completely different now." I know I had nothing to do with it and Jesus Christ was the one who softened her heart and helped her change. Missionaries are just His tools, and lemme tell you, it's the BEST job you could ever have. I'm going to miss it more than anything. BUT I get to live it all again through Victor because HE DECIDED TO SERVE A MISSION!!!! Woohoo!!! Vinh took family names to the temple and got his Patriarchal Blessing- he's all prepared to go back to Vietnam and help build the branch there. He said he's going to serve a mission too!!! We weren't able to arrange Emilee's baptism on Saturday because of all the craziness with President Nelson, so I'm sad I won't be able to see her get baptized! But the important thing is just that she does :)

The gospel of Jesus Christ truly changes lives. I've seen it, and I've lived it. The Atonement of Jesus Christ helped me get through the hardest moments of the past year and a half, and I would have never made it without the help of my Savior. I've also felt the most joy I've ever experienced in my life, and I know that joy came from the pure love of Christ. He paid the price so we don't have to suffer alone- His hand is always outstretched towards us. There are so many ways that He has witnessed His love for all of us. I know that one of those ways was establishing a Church where we could learn truth and correct doctrine that blesses our families and brings us peace and happiness. I also know He called a prophet, Joseph Smith, to restore that very same Church that He established while He was on the earth. The heavens are open, and I know with all of my heart that God still speaks to His children. He loves us so much and wants us to return to Him someday. This Church is guided by a prophet and apostles called of God, and when I follow their counsel I see miracles in my life. The Book of Mormon has helped me know and love the Savior even more, and it acts as an additional witness to the Bible that Jesus IS the Christ, the Only Begotten of the Father, and the only way to gain peace in this life and eternal happiness in the life to come. And I LOVE that no one has to take my word for it or believe me based off of my experiences. Everyone can gain a personal witness for themselves that these things are true- straight from God. The Holy Ghost bears witness of truth, and when we ask Heavenly Father to know what He wants us to do, we're given peace and comfort that goes straight to our heart and seeps into our life. I've seen people from all different religious backgrounds find truth in this Church. Whether they were agnostic, Shaman, devout Catholic, Lutheran, etc. or didn't believe in God at all, they all found out for themselves that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and was exactly where He wanted them to be. I'm so grateful I got to meet and be a part of their lives and conversion, and they will always be in my heart, just like the knowledge I've received that everything I've been teaching the past 18 months is all true. I wanna wrap up this email with a scripture that's come to mean so much to me. It basically describes every aspect of missionary work and sums up my feelings about my missionary service. 

27 ​Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to ​​​turn​ back, behold, the Lord ​​​comforted​ us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the Lamanites, and bear with ​​​patience​ thine ​​​afflictions​, and I will give unto you success.
​​​​​28 ​And now behold, we have come, and been forth amongst them; and we have been patient in our sufferings, and we have suffered every privation; yea, we have traveled from house to house, relying upon the mercies of the world—not upon the mercies of the world alone but upon the mercies of God.
​​​​​29 ​And we have entered into their houses and taught them, and we have taught them in their streets; yea, and we have taught them upon their hills; and we have also entered into their temples and their ​​​synagogues​ and taught them; and we have been cast out, and mocked, and spit upon, and smote upon our ​​cheeks; and we have been ​​​stoned​, and taken and bound with ​​​strong​ cords, and cast into prison; and through the power and wisdom of God we have been delivered again.
​​​​​30 ​And we have suffered all manner of afflictions, and all this, that perhaps we might be the means of saving some soul; and we supposed that our ​​​joy​ would be full if perhaps we could be the means of saving some.
​​​​​31 ​Now behold, we can look forth and see the ​​​fruits​ of our labors; and are they few? I say unto you, Nay, they are ​​​many​; yea, and we can witness of their sincerity, because of their love towards their brethren and also towards us. 

-The Book of Mormon// Alma 26:27-31 

Thanks for all of your support throughout my mission- y'all da real MVP! See you soon! Love, Sister Brett


This week was jam-packed with MIRACLES!!! We've been trying out new ideas around campus to find new investigators including free slacklining, prayers for finals week, chalking Book of Mormon verses on the sidewalk and handing out copies, serenading people with hymns- you name it, we tried it. And the Lord hardcore BLESSED our efforts! We got six new investigators! (I know if you're serving a mission in South America or something that would be like one day's worth, but for Minnesota it's a total miracle!) And it started out as randomly as saying "Hey, do you want some prayers for your finals?" And it would usually end up with a super cool conversation about their spirituality and how they could grow it even more. I think people are more open to Christ in their life when they really need Him (like when you're about to take finals haha), but in reality they need Him all the time! 

We had an AMAZING lesson with Emilee! We've taught her a few times and she was a little skeptical because she's so active in her church and pretty firm in her beliefs, but this time we asked her about what she felt in her heart regardless of her previous conceptions. When we asked her if she believed the things we taught were true, she got quiet and said, "It's hard to deny it when you pray and feel so strongly that it's true." She had a super spiritual experience when she asked God what He wanted her to do, and now she's rock solid. She told her family she was going to be baptized and they were pretty upset. Her family is super Lutheran and tried to convince her to change her mind, but she stood her ground and told them THEY needed to pray about it too! WHAT THE HECK! She's THE BEST! She wants to get baptized next Saturday, but there's a devotional with President Russell M. Nelson that day, so hopefully we can make it work! 

Member missionary work at its finest: Our recent convert Victor recognized one of the new investigators we're teaching and totally hopped into our conversation and started telling her his conversion story! They'd gone to Bible camp together in high school and knew each other really well, so it was a crazy coincidence! (Except there are no coincidences, God's hand is in everything!). It was AWESOME. We taught about the Restoration of the gospel- well, actually, Victor taught most of it- and we set up a return appt! We're pumped!

Things are just going so great in the YSA!! I'm actually kinda disappointed things are going so amazingly- it'll make it that much harder to leave. But I'm so grateful I get to be here at this particular time. Heavenly Father has perfect timing! 

Love, Sister Brett

Monday, May 8, 2017

No time for a catchy subject line!

Busy day, not much time to write! But some highlights from the past week:

-Going to the temple with Vinh!
-Members buying us ice cream on campus
-Hmong people taking us out for pho and boba
-Several new solid awesome investigators!
-Zone Conference 
-Departing missionary activities including a 3 hour seminar on dating (not really a highlight haha!)

**Motivational thought: You CAN become all that God intends for you to be! Anything is possible with Jesus Christ. 

Dying missionaries ( that means missionaries completing their mission soon).. get a free pass to go to the Mall of America, so we're headed out now! Can't believe in two and a half weeks I'll be leaving Minnesota...that's not real! I'll just pretend it's not for now.

Love, Sister Brett

Thursday, May 4, 2017

"Sneezed on the beat and the beat got sicker"

The past few weeks our mission president has been wanting us to perform around campus and use music to attract people to church. We've been crafting a repertoire and experimenting with a lot of different upbeat Christian songs, and it's been SUCH a blast! A lot of students have come up to us to ask what we're doing and it's always a great lead-in to being missionaries for the church. For zone conference our companionship gave a training on using music to invite the Spirit into lessons. It was such a fun topic to talk about and hear success stories of when a hymn totally changed the course of a lesson. We also had a musical fireside in Bloomington that we brought our investigators to, and everyone was really touched by the music that testified of the Savior. Something that Vinh has started doing is listening to church-y music while he walks to class. Out of nowhere he just started humming "I Believe in Christ" and was like "I really like that song!". He says it puts him in a good mood and helps him focus. And he did it totally on his own- we never thought to introduce him to the hymns, so we were so excited when he did it by himself! I know God made music for a reason, and it's definitely one of the ways I feel the Spirit the most! 

Also at zone conference, our mission president's wife gave an awesome training on the Holy Ghost! Something she said really resonated with me: "We can't do the Holy Ghost's job- as missionaries we are called to teach, but we can't force people to feel a certain way. The Holy Spirit is the real teacher. We can't be crushed when people don't choose to accept the gospel. Just do your best and the Holy Ghost will do the rest of the work." It's so true! It's easy to be devastated when someone chooses not to accept the gospel, especially after they've received a witness from the Spirit that it's true. But in life all we can do is make choices for ourselves and hope that other people use their agency in righteous ways. The Holy Ghost will guide our steps and help us make correct choices that will bring us lasting peace and happiness- and that's only possible through Jesus Christ!

ALSO!!!! Victor and Vinh are receiving the Aaronic Priesthood tomorrow!!! Seeing them progress so much already in the gospel is the greatest thing to ever happen. Every time they show up early to church to help set up, or bring food to an activity, or just something small that they totally don't have to do but just WANT to, teaches me so much about service and selflessness. They're AMAZING. The YSA has the best recent converts :)

Also also, our whole district got way sick. We blame Elder Chen. But the district that has nasal congestion together, stays together.

Quotes of the week: 

"Brothers and sisters, I come up here tonight covered in tears. Admittedly they're President Forbes' tears." -Elder Rulon Stacey

Sister Gotchy: "He looks like he's still in his tens."
Timmy: "You mean teens?"
Sis Gotchy: "No."

Love, Sister Brett <3

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Hard Things = Growth!!

Man, this week was kinda rough! Our mission president needed to send a pair of elders to another area, so Elders Meyer and Peterson got transferred to Wisconsin and the legendary district got ripped apart. When the APs came to pick them up at the institute, we locked all the doors and closed the blinds and tried to ignore them trying to get inside. It's basically what I imagine it was like for Joseph and Hyrum before they got martyred...we even sang "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief" as they tried to pick the locks. It was literally the worst. But I've been reminding myself we don't come on mission to make friends, we come out to change lives- luckily we got to do both this transfer :) Other than that, this week has been awesome! I cant believe Victor and Vinh have been members for almost a whole week now! The light that radiates from them is crazy- they had the light of Christ before, but man, the Gift of the Holy Ghost really packs it on! We're going to the temple with them for the first time this week- I'm SO pumped! We also taught this super cool girl named Ashley about the Restoration, she's been reading the Book of Mormon, and she's coming to church on Sunday! She had awesome questions and said the things we talked about answered a lot of things she'd always wondered about. I love that about the  gospel- it just makes sense. We were talking to a convert the other day who's a super talented neurosurgeon, and she talked about how you can have all the science and proof in the wold to prove something, but the only thing you can really KNOW is what you feel through the Spirit. Hearing somebody so intelligent and logical talk about their conversion to the restored gospel through strong impressions and feelings was so cool! Right now we're teaching a lot of engineers and people who love science- which is great, because God is the greatest scientist there is! It's amazing seeing people have their own spiritual experiences that they can't physical see or prove to someone, but they know are real. 

This week for YSA soccer it was legit dumping rain, but we couldn't flake because we had investigators coming haha. So in the 40 degree windy downpour we were out running around hoping they would think our church was really cool...and it WORKED because we always sneakily do a Book of Mormon book club right after soccer, so all the investigators came and read from the BoM with us and the members! Everyone was soaking wet from sliding around the field, which might as well have been a pool, so we turned on the oven in the institute kitchen and huddled around it reading from the scriptures! Plus hot chocolate. It was one of those moments that you think, "This is why I came on a mission." Man, being a missionary is the best! 

There's a quote by Brigham Young I read during studies this week that really hit me. "Show me one principle that has originated by the power of the devil. You cannot do it. I call evil inverted good, or a correct principle made an evil use of." The more I thought about it, I realized that so many things in the world start out for a good purpose or with good intentions, and then slowly things go wrong and people start using it for a different reason, one that isn't so righteous. It was interesting to ponder about! 

Love, Sister Brett

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Double Dunk ...#baptisms

Best day ever! Today Victor and Vinh got BAPTIZED! Everything went perfectly- Heavenly Father made sure it all worked out! Almost the entire ward came...everyone is so supportive in the YSA!!! When they both gave their testimonies at the end, there wasn't a dry eye in the house (except Vinh's...I think he was a little confused why everyone was crying haha). Sister Winters was able to come too! It was so amazing to see her. Teaching Victor and Vinh with her was AMAZING and I'm SO glad she was able to come see the fruit of her labors :) 

Everything else kind of pales in comparison to today, so I'll just blow through some highlights:

-A member bought our groceries at Walmart for us!
-It was 70 degrees one day and a snow storm the next #minnesota
-Victor taught people at the student union with us at U of M
-We had 3 exchanges- being area homesick is a real thing! 

I want you all to know that I have a testimony of the resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ. I know He lives and leads His Church! Because of His Atonement, we can one day be resurrected and live with Him again- I KNOW these things are true! They've blessed my life so much, and today two new people are able to bear their testimony of the same thing :)

Love you all! -Sister Brett

Monday, April 10, 2017

Faith + Baseball = Baptisms

This week was CRAZY! Crazy amazing! So the way things turned out this week, we actually had 3 P-days...pretty sick. We had General Conference last Saturday so we had to make up for that day, then half of our mission went to a Twins baseball game on Thursday, and today is P-day again! But we were kinda worried we wouldn't be able to find as many people to teach because almost half our week we wouldn't really be proselyting- BUT, as Nephi says, "The tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith." We saw incredible miracles the past few days and got 3 new investigators in ONE day! We were out showing the new Easter video the church put out, and ended up sharing it with people who were searching for a faith of their own. So we have a few return appointments this upcoming week! God definitely put people in our path that we needed to meet- I'm constantly reminded that everything that happens in missionary work is through no merit of our own, but only through the Lord! We're so lucky to be instruments in His hands :)

Vinh had his baptismal interview this week! The day before we were teaching him about the law of tithing, and he opened up about how he's helping his family back in Vietnam because they're really struggling, especially since he's come to America. As he was talking about it, I was thinking it was something he was going to have concerns with and be worried about. But of course in typical Vinh fashion, he said, "Of course I'll give what I have to the Lord, because then He will bless my family. If that's what He asks, then I'll do it." The tears could NOT be stopped in that lesson. The scripture popped in my head where it says, "Nay, never had there been such faith, not amongst all the Nephites." His trust in God is unreal, especially for someone who didn't even have a relationship with him a month ago! Before his interview he told us about all the changes he'd made in his life the past several weeks. He said before he'd started meeting with missionaries he was a negative person and didn't have love for anyone- there was no purpose to his life. But now he feels filled with light and happiness; he has direction and an end goal- the Celestial Kingdom! He said he's changed his thoughts and actions and that he's not the same person he was even just a little while ago. Then he bore an awesome testimony about repentance and the Atonement of Jesus Christ. (He was much more eloquent than that, but my rushed typing skills don't really portray that very well). He's coming with us to Lamb of God tonight!

We're teaching an AWESOME guy named Bryce! His brother Nick is a super active incredible member, served a mission, just the best person! He and his dad joined the church, but his mom and brother didn't. Bryce comes to activities a lot, so last week we asked Nick to get him to have a lesson with us- and it went so great! Bryce is super open and goes to a Baptist church in town, but is looking for more guidance in his life. After we met he said, "I feel really good about this. I'm excited to meet again next week." The next day he came to YSA soccer and had a total blast, then he came to Book of Mormon book club! And tonight he's coming to Lamb of God with us!  I feel really really great about Bryce- good things are happening in the YSA! 

Something I've been pondering about the past few weeks is how to be at peace when questions go unanswered and prayers seemingly go unheard. It's so easy to have faith and believe when things are going right, but when doubts come up it's easy to forget the spiritual experiences you've had that got you to where you are in the first place. But just because something is unexplainable by us, doesn't mean it's unexplainable! The Lord's ways are WAY higher than ours. I feel like the resolution I've come to for when things go unresolved for a while is to keep an eternal perspective. When I have concerns about different things, I think about the eternal effects it has and if that question will really make any difference in my life. The conclusion I've come to is that I know following the teachings of Jesus Christ will get me a lot further in life than disregarding them and doing whatever I want. No one is truly happy that way. Being a member of the Church isn't always easy, but when I think about the alternative, there's no way I would ever put those standards aside. Time will resolve all questions, but until they do, I know safety comes from heeding the words of the Lord's chosen servants. Satan isn't called "the father of all lies" for nothing- so don't fall for his traps! Love you all so much! -Sister Brett

Quotes of the week: 

Vinh: "When I first started coming here, I thought you guys put something in the food, because I was so happy whenever I would eat dinner with you guys."
Vinh (again): "When you and Sister Winters first started talking to me, I thought, 'This isn't in the script!'".