Wednesday, July 27, 2016

So two missionaries walk into a bar...

there's no actual joke attached
to this, except for maybe the fact we thought we were going out to
dinner with our investigator Mor and instead she took us to the
sketchiest bar in North St. Paul...that's kind of a joke. All she
wanted to do was karaoke, but no one else in town had it, so we had to
wait until our curfew (which is when when they opened it up), she sang
some quick Tupac, and we ditched it back to our apartment. But she had a blast, and we'd be lying if we said we didn't enjoy real music for a little bit too! 

Our mission has really been focusing on sacrifice and consecration this transfer. A lot of things have been distracting us from our missionary purpose: to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel. So we decided we had to stop volunteering at the cultural center- we thought it was best if we focused more on our missionary efforts
instead of using that time to talk to the grams and gramps. It was an
awesome opportunity to show them missionaries weren't scary and build
relationships with them, so if missionaries ever come knocking on
their door they'll be more willing to let them in. It was sad to
leave, but we know we'll be blessed for our efforts. We actually had some immediate blessings from our sacrifice! We met Sonny Vue, he's an awesome
new investigator and apparently famous? He was in Grand Torrino.... Kuv
tsis paub, never seen it. But he's way cool! We've already met with him twice and he always gives us ice cream #perks

I read a really great general conference talk called 'What Shall a Man
Give In Exchange For His Soul?' It says, "We are to give up all our
sins, big or small, and forget self-justifying stories, excuses,
rationalization, defense mechanisms, personal pride, judgmental
thoughts, and doing things our way." Sometimes that is SO HARD. The last thing the natural man in all of us wants to do is let go of pride and truly humble himself. But the Lord can't make us what we're meant to be if we hold back, and only give Him a piece of us. We need to hand over all our dreams and desires and hopes and say "Your plans for me are better than anything I could dream for myself." Truly giving yourself to God and being an instrument in His hands is really the only way to serve a mission. If you do it while trying to get something out of it other than the Lord's will, you're going to come home completely unchanged and unhappy. Every day is a decision to let go and let God. I'm grateful He works with us despite our flaws and imperfections :) 

The relief society went bowling, and the grandmas pretended like they
didn't even know what bowling was, and then totally creamed everybody.
Tais Kiab heckled us so hard, it was hilarious. I've never lost a game so hard. But it was one of the best moments of the week! 

Love you all so much! -Sister Brett

Quotes of the Week:

Brother Ly- "If you see a guy, and your heart starts to go 'boom boom
boom' in your chest, and you get all sweaty, and you have butterflies
in your stomach, you know you need to RUN AWAY. But if you have a guy
who makes you feel comfortable and safe, and like you're worth
something, NEVER let that one go."

"Don't pick somebody right for you, pick somebody right for your children."

"If he doesn't love God, He'll never truly know how to love you. If he
cherishes his relationship with Heavenly Father just as much as he
does his relationship with you, that's how you know you'll always make

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Stuck with you for Eternity!

This week was great! I know I say that every week, but I really mean it haha. Every day I'm more and more grateful I'm serving in the area I'm in. The YSA are such a huge boost to missionary work. All of them are converts, so hearing their stories and getting to know them so personally not only makes me love them more, but love the people we teach! Yesterday at  church President Ertel asked our investigator Phanida to get up and bear her testimony. (Backstory: She's the mom of Pankou and Emily, and her husband won't let her be baptized because he's still Shaman, but she's faithful in coming to church every week! We've been teaching her since we got here, and her faith has grown exponentially! Obviously not attributed to us, but to the fact she has a natural born desire to believe. #believingbloodofisrael). Sister Xiong and I exchanged looks of terror from across the room, because Phanida is extremely shy, but she walked up there with "peng xue" and shared how even though she's not a member yet, the gospel has already changed her life. She was baller! There wasn't a dry eye in the chapel when she was done. We're praying her husband's heart softens with time, and that he'll let her be baptized.
Saturday we went to a sealing at the temple, and it was so beautiful! It's weird seeing YSAs become YAs. They're the cutest couple in the whole universe and are so in love with each other. I'm so grateful for temples and the ability to be married for time and ALL eternity, not just "till death do you part." That's not God's plan for His children! Families are meant to be together forever, and I'm so blessed to know the priesthood authority to do that has been restored again on the earth today through a prophet of God.
Good and bad news: Mor is still getting baptized...just not on the 23rd anymore. She had a few slip-ups with her smoking, so she has to wait until she's truly given it up. Her perseverance is so inspiring. She fasts and prays and is so faithful with overcoming her addictions. Last night at the mission president's fireside, she started crying because she was so excited to bear her testimony when she's a member, too. We're going out with her tonight to celebrate her birthday!!! Who wants to spend their bday with missionaries?? Mor, that's who. <3
Sarah and Ruth hit a blockade with their progress: their parents won't allow them to meet with us anymore, which means they won't be baptized anytime soon. It's so heartbreaking, I can't type out the words to express how devastated Sister Xiong and I were when they told us. It's hard to understand why their parents would rather them go to no church rather than our church. But seeing their progress in coming to know the Savior has been so touching. They started out with hardly any knowledge of who God is and why we're here on this earth, to now having a solid relationship with Him and feeling like their life has purpose. And honestly, if that's all they can do right now, that's incredible. I know when they're older they'll build even more on their foundation by coming back to the church.
Love you all! I love this gospel so much, and I know it's true! I can't believe it's already a week into transfers. Time is flying by! -Sister Brett

Sunday, July 17, 2016

My Way or the Thai-Way

The Twin Cities welcomed its first major torrential storm of the
summer! Of course the bottom decided to drop out while we were driving
across town to be taken out to dinner by a member, so we had no idea
where we were when a giant monsoon hit. We tried to drive through it,
but the rain was beating the car so hard I was afraid the windshield
was going to shatter. Then the sky started to turn green, so we tried
to find somewhere we could take shelter if a tornado hit. Sister Xiong
isn't used to bad weather, so I'm trying to play it cool and not worry
her, but internally I'm having an anxiety attack...I moved to
California to get AWAY from tornado alley, not go right back to it! We
weren't seeing anything, but we prayed and eventually passed by a
Dollar Tree, so we pulled in and made a mad dash into the store, whose
electricity went out just as we ran inside. We could see all the
lights go out down the whole street. It got eerily quiet, and then the
wind picked up like crazy. The trees started to fall down, and I was
75% convinced we were going to get blown away. Sister Xiong and I
started singing hymns, and after a while the storm lightened up. The
elders called us and asked why we weren't at dinner, which means they
were CRAZY and drove through the severe weather. Their excuse was "Red
Lobster". #elders We prayed about it and felt like it was okay to try
and head over there, and the highway wasn't flooded like the other
roads, so we slowly made our way over. The restaurant didn't even have
power, so we waited for 2 hours to get our food. It was an insane
night, but I'm grateful we survived! Speaking of insane things in St
Paul, there have been riots all week over someone getting shot. They
blocked off the highway by our apartment, and people have been
protesting and getting in fights all over town. It's kinda scary, and
reminds me how much the world needs Jesus!

Anna is so cool! She's our 14-going-on-25 investigator. I think she
has more drama in her middle school life than I did middle, high
school, and college combined. She's had 3 different boyfriends in the
last week we've seen her. But she's really quick, and has already
started reading through the whole Book of Mormon! She likes it a lot,
and when we talked about the restoration of the gospel, she's like "I
want to be a part of Christ's true church. I think that would be
important." We told her it definitely was! So she committed to be
baptized! She would make an awesome addition to the other young women
in church. She also did Sister Xiong's eyebrows, which were totally on
fleek (but she refused to let me take a picture).

Our other investigator Tais Paj fell and had to go to the hospital. It
took us forever to find her because her neighbors gave very Hmong,
very vague directions on where they took her, so we went to all the
close-by hospitals and finally had success at one downtown. When she
first sees us, she takes her cane and runs to Sister Xiong and starts
beating her with it. We assume she must have really hit her head and
can't remember anything, so we're like "Tais Paj, stop, it's us!" She
goes "I know it's you! Why didn't you come see me sooner! I need my
dentures!" She's the cutest little thing, I love her with all my
heart. Sister Xiong goes, "Why didn't you hit Sister Paj Zhuag too?"
and she grabs me and says "Because I love her more than you."
#playingfavorites It was so sad seeing her try to talk to the nurses
because she can't speak any English, and they don't speak Hmong, so
she kept trying to communicate with no avail. Granted all she wanted
to say was how awful the food was, so maybe it was for the best haha.
Her daughter doesn't speak to her anymore, so she always calls us her
daughters. She is the most adorable thing on the planet.

We had an interesting service opportunity this week. This woman was
walking by carrying garbage bags full of clothes, so we asked if we
could help her carry it. Not only did she let us carry it, but we also
washed them all- the Hmong way! You literally only use a hose and
spray them down, step on them with your bare feet, scrub it together,
and hang it to dry. It's so third-world! And we got drenched. But it
was a lot of fun! We taught her and her sister a lesson afterwards and
set up a return appointment! Holla! I can't believe people still do
that when we have laundry machines here, but she said she was so used
to doing it like that in Thailand she just kept up the routine. While
I'm on the topic of Thailand, some members just came back from
visiting family there, so they got us all these souvenirs and showed
us gorgeous pictures! Bucket list trip when I go home.

Miracle of the week: We randomly decided to go to a neighborhood we
hadn't been to in a while, and as we're getting out of the car, this
girl we've never met before goes "Sisters! I was praying for a miracle
and God sent me you! I have a paper due in 3 hours and I don't know
enough English to write it. Can you help me?" Turns out she went
less-active a long time ago, but we re-connected and she made us
dinner as we cranked out her essay! It was awesome to finally meet
her, because we actually had been trying to find her on the branch
directory but she was never home! On top of that, she came to church
Sunday and jumped right back into active church life! AND she made an
A on the paper! #tendermercies

***PRAYER REQUEST!! In order to be baptized in two weeks, Mor has to
completely give up smoking. It will be a HUGE struggle for her, so she
needs all the prayers she can get! Please, please keep her in your
prayers that she can overcome this temptation! We've armed her with
all the cinnamon gum and mints she'll need to make it, and we're
giving up soda and candy alongside her so she's not the only one
sacrificing something difficult. Pray for us too :) just kidding!

*Sister Xiong and I talking about our homeless referral*
Us: "Have you gone to see Fran yet?"
Elder Kemberling: "Oh, with that great address you gave us? 'Next to
the bunny statue, possibly on one of the benches, near the address we
gave you, and with bae's number that doesn't work.' Excellent. No we

Mor's boyfriend Chan: "You know me, I was looking for a real relationship."
Mor: "I met you at the club!"

Sister Xiong: "Tais Paj said her preacher could pass her house keys to us."
Me: "What authority does he have to pass keys to someone? He ain't got
no priesthood!"

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Amelikas Yog Zoo N Kaub us

 What an insane week! We got to celebrate the 4th holiday all week-
Hmong people are surprisingly patriotic. There's a big festival that
goes on called J-4 where there's soccer and football tournaments, good
food, and lots and lots of booths. We had a booth giving out copies of
the Book of Mormon and pamphlets, and it was an incredibly effective
way to get new investigators! It forced me to use my Hmong without
Sister Xiong's help, so it was a good proving ground for my language
skills. There was just one little hiccup throughout the whole
weekend...this kid comes up to the table, looks through all the
different stuff we have splayed out, and acts like he's super
interested. But when he walked away and Sister Xiong was reorganizing
the materials on the table, we saw he left condoms under all the
pamphlets. We had a mini panic-attack because our mission president
and his wife showed up and were right behind us, so we didn't want
them to see what was going on. So we quickly disposed of them and
tried to ignore it, but seeing Sister Xiong fuming hard core was one
of the highlights of the day. She's so cute when she's mad, because
she has this cute little voice but sounds so angry. You know like in
The Emperors New Groove where Yzma gets turned into this tiny little
squeaky cat, but she's so angry? That's the perfect example. It's zi
hlub heev. And I definitely learned a lot of new insults in Hmong.

Mor called us last week to come over ASAP. We were freaking out that
something was wrong, and when we got there she was a wreck. Her
boyfriend got arrested, and she was having a mini-meltdown. Honestly
we had no idea what to do or how to comfort her, and it was almost our
curfew so we couldn't take her out or anything. We went for a walk
outside and saw the sprinklers at the school were on. Sister Xiong and
I looked at each other and were completely on the same wavelength- we
grabbed Mor's hand and we ran across the street through all the
sprinklers. We got so soaked, but we were going home anyway, so we
took advantage of it and LOVED it! People honked at us as we were
running around, so it must have been a funny sight. It relieved a lot
of her stress (and ours) and was so fun. Mor is so incredible, she
puts up with so much and is such a trooper. Can't believe she's
getting baptized in a little over 2 weeks!!! Speaking of...

Vicky got baptized!! The spirit was so strong throughout the service.
It was kind of like baptismal Barbie dress-up. We helped her put on
the white jumper, and braided her hair, and got her ready since her
mom isn't a member and wasn't too thrilled about the whole ordeal as
it was. Usually Vicky is a little angsty, but that day she was all
smiles. After she got dunked, we were drying her off in the dressing
room and she was just glowing and saying how amazing she felt. The
spirit really does change people! We watched her receive the Gift of
the Holy Ghost during sacrament meeting on Sunday, and she was still
radiating light. I am so lucky to have gotten to be even a little part
of that. The service afterward was awesome! It was fast and testimony
meeting, and people literally lined up to bear their testimony. In Mis
Cas wards usually it's dead quiet for a while until someone decides to
get up, but literally they started lining up as President Ertel was
conducting. I love how much faith and desire they have to share their
love of the gospel! This was the first time I bore my testimony
completely in Hmong in front of everyone, and I was super nervous I
would look stupid or say something wrong, but Heavenly Father helped
me remember everything and deliver it the way I wanted to. It was

Last night we had a fireside/BBQ at President Ertel's home (which is
GORGEOUS- I want to wait till they're on vacation and then go be a
squatter in it so I can live there). It was so fun! All the YSA and
married young adults talked about dating, and finding a suitable
companion who has the same standards as you and is a worthy priesthood
holder who can take you to the temple. So many people in the branch
are pairing off and dating, so it's fun to get to be with all the YSA
and talk about boys and dating like we did back home :) anyway, we're
having a Tri-zone Pday today, so I'm going to hop off, but I love you
guys! -Sister Brett

Quotes of the week:

Sis Xiong: "Wait, Backstreet Boys and n*Sync aren't the same band? My
whole life is a lie! I thought BSB was just when Justin Timberlake was
taking a hiatus!"

Sister Forbes: "What are you shouting to these people?"
Me: "Repent."
Sister Forbes: "Is that very successful?"
Me: "Not really. That's why I just stick with saying hello."
Sister Forbes: "Oh, so you were kidding?"
Me: "But I can totally teach you how to shout repentance!"
Sister Forbes: "Maybe it's best if I just stick to English."

Sister Xiong: "What a me nyuam li! Next time I see that punk I'm
giving a Law of Chastity pamphlet, not that it looks like he needs it

Saturday, July 2, 2016


How is it already Monday again? I swear I was just emailing a few days ago. The weeks go by so quickly! Last P-day we went to the St Paul Catholic was beautiful! The architecture is unreal. Then we went sight-seeing in downtown St Paul. I'm so used to the Minneapolis side of the Twin Cities, but I really love St. Paul! On Tuesday we did exchanges, and I got to do Spanish work with Hermana Andrus! It was such a blast. I really feel like Spanish people are my people- we played soccer (football) and watched telenovelas at an investigator's home. And by watched, I mean tried to teach a lesson while she gave us the down low on her favorite love interests. Hmong work is totally brain-washing me. I tried to bear my testimony in Spanish and ended up saying "Se que esta Phau Ntawv Maumoos es verdadero thiab Yaxeis Xamiv ib yog propheta." So basically I butchered it, but Hermana Andrus is pro and translated into real Spanish, not Hmong Spanish. They say when you start  dreaming in your mission language that's when you've mastered it...still waiting for that to happen!

We were taking Tais Amy for a walk around the nursing home, and this drunk lady comes up to us and starts trying to make us listen to classic rock on her phone. It turns out that she was actually baptized into the church when she was 12! So she asked us to come back and help her get on the right path again. It was a crazy coincidence, but God plans everything out for us!

Sarah came to a baptism on Saturday! She said she really felt the was awesome! She came to church the next day with her two little siblings and our other investigator Mor. They are both so at home in the branch. Everyone loves them and is excited for them to be baptized! We had a mission president's fireside where recent converts bear their testimony, and Mor whispered in my ear "Sister Brett, I can see myself up there sharing my story soon." It was such an incredible feeling!! Watching Mor progress from someone who was very short-tempered and had little desire to change, to someone who shows a HUGE amount of love for the gospel and is truly changing herself to qualify for baptism, has been one of the most spiritual experiences of my mission. The Atonement is real, and it's manifesting itself in her every day. 

Vicky is getting baptized this Saturday!!!! The elders taught her a lot, but passed her off to us a while ago since she's a young girl and it's probably more appropriate that we teach her. She picks up things so quickly, and it's no surprise to anyone she's deciding to follow Christ into the waters of baptism. Yay!!!

Quotes of the week:

President Ertel: "Sisters, can you check up on this grandma? We haven't seen her in a while. Her temple recommend has expired, and she may have as well." 

Saturday Night Fever

First off- shoutout to my amazing dad! Happy Father's Day! The best advice I've ever received from him was: "If a boy ever tries to mess with you, just tell him your daddy has a shotgun, a big backyard, and he ain't afraid to go back to prison." Haven't had to use that line just yet dad, but I'll keep you in the loop. Love you!

If you think weekends in the real world are more exciting than those precious 2 days in the mission field....actually, you'd probably be right. But while people were out partying or going on dates or doing whatever real people do, Sister Xiong and I spent our Saturday night massaging an old naked Hmong grandma and getting saved from a gang-brawl by a random black lady on the street. So I think we might win out on this one...just this once. 
So, we went to see our investigator Tais Paj, who is this super deaf old lady with a heart of gold. She was making this super weird Shaman concoction on her stove (that honestly just looked like kale, but I won't judge) and said she was going to pour it on her back to heal her. So while we waited for the elders to come give her a priesthood blessing, Sis Xiong offered to rub her back for her. Tais Paj got super excited and literally ripped her shirt off and sat down waiting for us to get to work. We looked at each other, debated it for a hot second, and decided that service was an important aspect of missionary work. So there we are, rubbing her back while we sing hymns to her, and it's one of the most awkward moments of my mission, and we're trying not to laugh...but she really appreciated it, and rewards us with cantaloupe that's been in her fridge for about 6 months. I really love Hmong people. 

Afterwards on the walk home, this car keeps honking at us. We ignore it and keep going, because at 9pm no one wants to pull over their car and talk about the gospel. So we keep going, and they keep persisting and honking. We felt the Spirit say it was okay, so we stop and go over to the car, and this black lady is like "I need to pray with y'all real bad." So she gets out and grabs our hands and starts pouring out her life story to us. We stand with her for over an hour, and we pray with her and talk with her, and try to comfort her as best we can. Meanwhile, 6 cop cars go BLAZING by, and pull into the food place right across the street from our apartment, where we walk by to go home. So her phone rings, and it's her friend saying "Did you hear what just happened? There was a gang fight at Pappy's, the po-po are everywhere." And if it weren't for this woman stopping us, I can't help but think if we would have been right outside it when it all went down. God really protects His missionaries- and gets us investigators! And it was so heart-warming to hear this woman's story that we don't even know, and to help lift her burdens, even a little bit. That's what being a disciple of Christ is all about. 

We did a mini-mission with Cindy, who leaves on her mission to Japan next month! It was such a sleepover- I felt like I was in middle school again. While we were walking a giant monsoon hit, and the rain poured and poured and poured. Saying we got soaked is an understatement. It was so much fun, and we ran home laughing and crying and sopped from head to toe. It's crazy how when you make the best of a situation, it turns into an adventure!

Ruth and Sarah and Mor are still progressing! They're so solid, I love them so much. Excited for their baptisms!! We had a huge branch picnic with enough food to feed all of Africa. It was fabulous. 

This was the week of one-liners, so I'll leave you with 'em before I wrap up!

"What's this on my leg? Cellulite? I serve the Lord and this is what I get- cottage cheese legs??" -Hermana Chavez

"When you think the grandma is bringing out that huge bowl of spaghetti for everyone, but she puts it down, points, and says, 'YOU.'" -Elder Lucero

"This is an outrage! Where's my table to flip?" -Sister Xiong

Me: "Missionaries have too many restrictions- calories shouldn't be one of them."
Hermana Andrus: "Can we write that on the 10 Commandments or something? Cuz I really feel that."

"Quit swimming in the pity pool. There's probably pee in it." -Elder Lao

"Until he sealed, he can be stealed." -Hermana Chavez First off- shoutout to my amazing dad! Happy Father's Day! The best advice I've ever received from him was: "If a boy ever tries to mess with you, just tell him your daddy has a shotgun, a big backyard, and he ain't afraid to go back to prison." Haven't had to use that line just yet dad, but I'll keep you in the loop. Love you!

The Plan of Salvation Really Does Matter

So sad to write that my favorite member from my first area passed away this week. Je're was always so willing to feed us dinner every week, even though her and her family were barely getting by on food stamps. No matter what, she was always the spiritual constant in her family, despite being the only member of the church surrounded by bad influences. Her funeral was beautiful and full of people who all admired the same things about her: her love for everyone around her, and her ability to braid some mean cornrows. Though it's heartbreaking to see her pass, we know exactly where she is, and that she'll be reunited with her family again. When we're faced with heartache and sadness, it's crucial to know the reason we're here on this earth, and where we're destined to go in the next. People don't always have a desire to know about it until they're knocking at death's door, unsure of what's to come for them. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we had a sure knowledge of the answers to those questions, and have no fear in our hearts of leaving this life, because we know what will greet us once we pass through the veil- I am forever grateful for the truths we know and treasure.

We watched the Restoration movie with Sarah and it was so good! She said she knew Joseph Smith was truly a prophet. She also said he was pretty cute, but we told her that it was an actor potrayal...I think she was a little dissapointed he wasn't the real deal haha. It's always a great testimony builder to have the spirit reaffirm time and time again that he was a prophet. Her parents are still leery about her joining the church, but we continue to pray every day for her! We love her to death. Saturday we did a spa makeover night with some members and their non-member mom and it was a BLAST! She wants to join the church, but her husband is Shaman and won't let her. But she's still at church every week, and always feeds us the best food. She's the literal definition of a dry Mormon! 

We had a district meeting about the Atonement, and it was so touching. We all make mistakes and we all mess up, it's part of our mortal probabtion. But through Jesus Christ and His Atonement, we can start over as many times as it takes to get it right. There's nothing too small or too big the Atonement can't cover. I am SO grateful for that! We sometimes think that once we mess up, that's it, why bother trying to fix it when we know we'll just do it again tomorrow? But we know that through Christ, every time we truly repent, our sins are forgiven and we can start fresh and clean. It's something we can't ever forget, because it's so so important! 

Gonna hop off, but I love you guys! I love this work so much- I know with all of my heart it is true. No matter what adversity we may face, it always comes back to the same thing: Read the Book of Mormon and pray about it. When you know it's true, nothing else in the world matters; no opposition can overcome you or break you down because you have God on your side. With Him we will NEVER fail. -Sister Bret