Monday, May 23, 2016

Goodbye English....Hello Hmong

*** This letter from Sister Brett's Mission  is out of order...It is actually from five weeks ago***
          The little elves who post Sister Brett's letters each week forgot to post it....sorry.
Transfers JUST came out this morning and I'm still processing everything. I am no longer an English speaking missionary....I'm being reassigned to the Hmong language! I'm opening up a brand new area with a Hmong companion and we start in ONE DAY. I am so excited, but I know it'll be a lot of hard work- good thing I love egg rolls. I am so sad to leave behind Eden Prairie, there was a lot of great work to be done here! But I know the next missionaries to take over will do awesome.
This week was crazy fun. We taught the Restoration to some cool druggies who only knew about the Mormons from South Park and The Book of Mormon musical (more to come on that later). They were super chill and had more tattoos than bare skin, but weren't really keen on coming to church at the moment (cuz, you know, drugs). But they were really nice and have a lot of potential when they're not busy with their illegal substances. 
We had another lesson with Tony with our mission president and his wife, who used to be Catholic like him. Her testimony was so powerful and brought him to tears. He's currently in the Philippines, but we'll continue to Skype teach him while he's gone. I love him!
We picked up a new family to teach, the Van Marters. They're the landlord of a recent convert, and they're legit. They're both covered in tattoos and met in VERY.....VERY...unorthodox ways. I think one of the hardest parts about being a missionary is all the confidentiality you have to keep, even when you know disclosing certain things to others would help them. But they have a beautiful newborn baby named Heaven Reign and are looking for a church to accept them and help them get back on their feet. They're so funny and great people!
All the missionaries serving in the cities went to a Twins baseball game on Thursday which was a total blast. I got to see Sister Peterson again! It was the best reunion getting to see her and my old district. The Book of Mormon musical is coming to Minneapolis, so they had posters everywhere advertising it. Maybe that'll send some people over to the real missionaries! After that we taught mission prep for the Young Women a few towns over and it was great! They all really want to serve. I'm so thrilled when I think of all the righteous young women and future mothers going out to serve. IT'S AWESOME.
That was basically our week! I'm a little bummed to be leaving an amazing area, but I am so so so excited to open this new area and experience a new culture and people. Let's hope the gift of tongues comes in handy! I love this gospel, and it's for all people, all around the world, even the ones right here in Minnesota. Love, Sister Brett

Hitting the Six Month Mark

It doesn't seem like I've been on my mission for 6 months! It feels
like a week ago I was still home, but it also feels like missionary
work is all I've ever done. It's definitely been the most worthwhile
thing I've done in my life. This week was full of miracles!
Ruth's parents said she could come to church, and now their whole
family is investigating! We brought some of the members who use to be
part of the Hmong Alliance Church before they were baptized, and it
really helped her parents accept it! And not only to let their
daughters come, but for them to come as well. I am so hopeful for her
family. We also had stellar lessons with Angie and her 2 friends Pa
and Sundy. Their parents are Shaman and don't believe in Christianity,
but they really want to learn about Jesus Christ. They're super cute,
and we're going to their school talent show to support them this
Friday! Angie and her sister-in-law Macy committed to be baptized on
June 5th! Macy has a baby on the way and wants the best for her
family, and thinks the church will help her family become closer.
She's right about that :)

Speaking of babies on the way....I'm going to be an aunt!!! My brother
and his wife are expecting a little girl in October! I'm so excited
for them, but a little heartbroken I won't get to see her until she's
already 7 months old! But God works everything out for a reason. 

Yesterday we had zone conference with all the missionaries in our area
and talked about the differences between sin and weakness. It was
super inspirational to hear that weaknesses aren't necessarily sins,
but actually an opportunity to grow closer to God and rely on Him to
strengthen us. Ether 12:27! Our medical missionary said something
really cool  "For sin he offers us forgiveness, for weakness he offers
us grace." We need all the forgiveness and grace we can get! I'm so
grateful that the Atonement covers our sins AND our weaknesses. Later on we
had a safety seminar on ticks and the Minnesota state bird- the
mosquito. Basically they told us we'll all probably get Lyme disease,
but it's treatable, so it's all good. Can't wait for summer! #killme.
Today is zone pday (which is why my email is a little short today), so
we're doing games and stuff at the park together. Our zone is all
foreign language missionaries, so there's always 4 different
conversations going on in different languages and no way to keep up
haha. BUT the other day Sister Xiong was in the bathroom and a member
of the branch started talking to me, and praying in my heart the whole
time, I was able to understand her AND respond with her understanding
me! I was on cloud 9 all day about that. Little victories :)

Shout out to my parents being member missionaries and helping out with the full-time missionary effort in Mississippi! They shared a really cool experience with me about fellowshipping someone in need, and now she's coming to church with them! Proof you don't need to serve a mission to be a missionary :)
Miracle of the week: Our entire mission has been focusing on setting
solid baptismal dates. Usually we average around 30 date-sets a month,
so we fasted to increase our teaching pool, and so far this month we
have 90 DATE SETS! The power of fasting and prayer is real.

Quote of the week:  "When you have trouble loving someone, love them
for who they can become."

-Sister Brett

Lessons Learned From A Sketchy Aisian Slaughterhouse!

Where did the week go? I can't believe it's already Monday again! It's been a jam-packed 7 days. We picked up several new investigators and have 2 baptismal date-sets! One of them is a 19 year old girl named Ruth. We tracted into her and taught her about the restoration. At the end of the lesson we felt prompted to invite her to be baptized at the end of the month, and she said yes! Her parents go to the Hmong Alliance Church, and are already showing some pushback to her joining the church, but we're planning on teaching her whole family tonight! We're praying so hard that it goes well. We're also teaching this cute old lady named Pang Vang. We help her garden and go on long walks with her, which she really appreciates since she's alone most of the time. She is so hilarious and wants us to come to Bingo with her....contacting opportunity? :) Our other investigator Mor is awesome! She's the girlfriend of a less-active member and they're currently living together. She's also a smoker and drinker, but she is the most committed person, and once she found out those things were wrong she made a game plan to resolve it. We set her baptismal date for July so she has plenty of time to stop smoking and drinking, and find a place to move. The dedication is unreal. She took us out to eat pho, and when she opened her fortune cookie it said "The goal you want to achieve will be accomplished shortly." It was so cool! She got super emotional and said she was going to tape it to her goal sheet that she has on her bathroom mirror. I'm telling you, she's solid!

So we got invited over for dinner at a member's house, and he asked if we could do some service for him beforehand. So we met him and the elders over at his house and he drives us to an unknown location to help him out. The second we pull up, this overwhelming smell of death and manure fills the whole car. I look over at this poorly hand-crafted sign that says "Meat Slaughterhouse" and he informs us we'll be catching, killing, de-gutting, and bringing home our dinner. In my head I'm going "No no no no absolutely not," but outside I'm like "Yeah, sounds fun!" because offending someone you're trying to get referrals from probably isn't the best idea. So we indeed caught, killed, de-gutted, and took home our very own chickens. I named mine "Joseph and Hyrum" because the scene was definitely a set-up of Liberty Jail. I internally sobbed and externally shed a few hidden tears...first rule of food- don't name it if you're planning on eating it. We got home and cooked it, and I was able to force a few bites down so I didn't look rude, but there was NO way I was finishing off a chicken that I had just pet not even 2 hours beforehand. I felt like such a monster, and am eternally grateful I'm serving in the states so I never have to kill my own meal again. But when the zombie apocalypse comes around, I'll at least know how to kill and cook food for my family #survivalskills 

Shout out to my mom for sending an awesome Cinco de Mayo package! It was filled with lots of good stuff (Horchatta for daysss!), and we turned it into a make-shift pinata. I love having the Hermanas live with us! We pillow-talk for hours after bed, which isn't great for our energy levels, but great for our comp unity levels. We went fishing with the elders and went shopping at Hmong village (the best place you will ever go) and found out that I've been missing out on Boba tea, which to my surprise, isn't actually tea! So I found a new love. I got to Skype my family on Mother's Day which was so sweet! I've missed them so much, but this time next year I'll be home! I just want to take a moment to publicly thank my mother for all the things she's done for me. She is the most Christ-like woman I know, and I would give anything to one day be the kind of wife and mother she is. She is my best friend, and I thank Heavenly Father every day for making sure she was stuck with me! :) -Sister Brett

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Kuv Hlub Hmoob!

I don't think there's enough space on this email to write about how
much I LOVE Hmong work! This week has been miracle after miracle. Most
of the time I only know 10% of what's going on, if that! Most of them
don't speak English unless they're second generation and have lived in
the States their whole life. So I do a lot of smiling and head nodding
during lessons haha. The language is pretty tough, there's a lot of
tones and dialects that if you get wrong, you're completely messing up
the word and it means something else. I'm very slowly learning
different phrases, but as of now, the only thing I really understand
in conversation is when they point at me and say "mika" (aka pasty
white person). But it's coming along! The branch is so AWESOME!
They've been praying for sister missionaries for a long time, so we
got the biggest warmest welcome with lots of food and hugs. We all
made sushi together with the Relief Society which was totally fun,
then there was a sleepover with all the YSA sisters (who all speak
English #halellujah) where we cooked pho (my new best friend) and
spicy stir-fry. Hmong people know how to eat! In Relief Society we had
croissants and muffins and brownies and cookies....mission addition
will be happening in this area. Sister Xiong is HILARIOUS! She is the
funniest spunkiest ball of fire, but at the same time the sweetest
person on the planet. We have such a blast together, I am so grateful
for her. I couldn't have asked for a better companion OR area! We
actually don't have a set area, we cover all of the Twin Cities and
whatever Hmong sisters the elders can't teach, so we do a lot of

Our first few days together were crazy! We were all packed up at the
mission home ready to transfer to our new area, and the APs tell us
our apartment isn't ready yet because the elders hadn't finished
moving out. We were super confused because we didn't know we were
taking over an elders apartment. A sister's area got shut down, so we
stayed in their abandoned apartment for the night since there wasn't
room for us anywhere else, which was a lil creepy but fun. All our
stuff was packed in the car and trunk to the max, and on top of that
it was pouring rain, so we couldn't get any of our stuff out for
overnight! We just slept in our clothes and wore the same thing the
next day...classy haha. The next day after a gps fiasco, we finally
found our apartment! The elders were just leaving after clearing out,
and we saw 4 beds in the living room. Turns out the Hermanas were
moving in too- they had to emergency transfer out of their area
because they were being stalked. So now it's like we're living in a
dorm! But it's a lot of fun, we have such a great time. The first few
days the elders took us out with them to appointments and passed us
off a lot of solid investigators! So we finally tried to do some stuff
on our own, and lo and behold, our car battery completely dies in a
Chipotle parking lot. We went around to random people asking if they
could jump the car for us, and these super nice Jehovah's Witnesses
went home to get cables for us and came back and totally saved the
day! It was such a miracle. After that, we went to an appointment and
locked the keys inside the car. We were freaking out and had no idea
what to do. This sketchy guy comes up with a coat hanger, a washcloth,
and a screwdriver, and is like "step aside ladies I got this" and IT
WORKS. It was another miracle from God. Heavenly Father is so good!

Last night was President's fireside with Larry R Lawrence, one of the
Seventy. He gave my favorite general conference talk last October
called "What Lack I Yet?". He gave a really inspiring talk, and I sang
in a quartet with some other sisters! It was such a spiritual night. I
can't express how much I love this work. I love being a missionary,
and I love learning about the Hmong culture and sharing the gospel
with them (jk, Sister Xiong does most of the talking, but still!).

Sidenote: Prince passed away in his Minneapolis home, and he was
totally in my last area's Ward boundaries! So if he'd joined the
church we would have taught him. That's okay, he'll hear the gospel in
the next life!

Love, Sister Brett (Paj Zhuag Lee)