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!'".

Change is hard ... so is staying awake during all of General Conference!!

Weird transfer change- Sister Winters actually didn't come back to YSA- President decided to move her somewhere else (one of my previous areas!), so now Sister Gotchy and Sister Heath are here in the YSA! I was so devastated when I found out we wouldn't go eternal after all...I love her with all my heart, and she has been the BEST companion ever. When she came back to get her stuff from the apartment we both started crying, but I know the Lord needs her to help His children in Eden Prairie. They're lucky to have her!  

If you missed hearing a prophet's voice this week, GO BACK AND WATCH GENERAL CONFERENCE! It was so amazing! The Spirit was so strong and testified to me of the truthfulness of everything that was said. We had a few investigators come which was neat! Vinh took lots of notes and asked some awesome questions afterwards. Speaking of Vinh, he thought it would be super funny to April Fools prank us by telling us he broke the Word of Wisdom- he's so Mormon already 😂 He's so excited for his baptism! Back on the topic of April Fools pranking, with a little help from the EQP Sister Gotchy, Sister Heath and I broke into the elder's apartment- we stole their piano and all their toilet paper!  We put the keyboard in the institute bathroom during conference- it was so hilarious. The TP issue they found out later that night...#christlikeservice. Later on a member took all 7 of us in his 5-seater truck to 6 of us are squished in the remaining 4 spots, and poor Elder Chen got tricked into sitting alone in the truck bed. The member was hilariously awful and braked about a thousand times to send him flying. But he seemed to like it after screaming "WHY AMERICA???". 

This week has been kinda crazy with all the emergency transfer stuff going on, but Victor and Vinh are both preparing for their baptism on the 15th! We're trying to find new investigators every day- being in a trio makes talking to people on campus a little more awkward, but we're trying! :) Hope everyone has a great week! 
Love, Sister Brett

Quotes of the week:

Tuan: "Wherever Timmy is, peace isn't."

Us: "Did you get a chance to read over the Plan of Salvation pamphlet?"
Vinh: "Yes, but I don't remember much. Something about living with God before we lived here, then we came to earth and Adam and Eve ate the fruit and then we were all subject to sin, so God sent Jesus Christ to die for us, and then we'll die and be resurrected where our bodies and souls will never part, and then we go to either the Celestial, Terrestrial, or Telestial kingdom. But I don't know, I just skimmed it." 

Elder Chen: "Why everyone in America so loud? You laugh at everything, even if it not funny. I will not laugh if I do not like."

Monday, March 27, 2017

No Strings Attached!!

This week was crazy! #transfers Sister Winters is being swapped out with my MTC companion Sister Gotchy for a week, but she'll be back in a few days and then we'll be in a trio in the YSA! It's fun being back with Sister Gotchy after 16 feels like the MTC was yesterday! We're also the STLs for not just one zone, but now two! Sister Winters and I will probably see each other like twice this transfer haha...but exchanges are a blast, so no complaints! Our district is going bowling, so I'm gonna try to bust out the highlights of the week before we go! 

Vinh is getting baptized April 15th! He's so prepared. We gave him a Plan of Salvation pamphlet to look over before we taught him about it the next lesson, and when we met with him again he could recite the whole thing! In our previous lesson he promised he would pray every day, and he told us he had a cool spiritual experience with it! Ever since he was little, he's had insomnia and hasn't been able to get an actual good sleep almost his whole life. But he said when he started praying he could fall asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow. He thought that was so neat!  (So did we!) He also said he'd been having some contention with his roommate, but he prayed to stop having negative feelings toward him, and now they get along great! Vinh is the greatest- we're so excited for him!
Also happening on the 15th...Victor's baptism! We had a bonfire for FHE, and at the end he stood up and shouted, "EVERYONE COME TO MY BAPTISM APRIL 15TH!" and proceeded to run to his car and drive home. It was kind of a big deal for him to finally start telling people it's happening. He brought his friends over to the institute and was super open with them about why he was joining the church. He's the best! Also he made us dinner- and came to our district meeting? Can I reiterate that he's the best? 

Our mission president told us we need to be utilizing our district's musical abilities more, so we've been doing jam sessions outside the institute building as people walk by! It's so much fun! Hopefully it's helping set the precedent that Mormon missionaries aren't tooooo weird...I don't know how that's working out, but we enjoy it! 

Just a little spiritual thought- yesterday we had a speaker come to Friday forum, and he said something really cool: "There are no strings attached in the gospel of Jesus Christ." It's so true! Everything we do is to become closer to Him. There aren't any loopholes. There aren't any secret motives. Literally every part of our gospel is learning to be like Him. Christ never gave anything with the thought of getting something in return. There were no strings attached in His ministry. I'm so grateful for the chance to be a missionary and to truly strive to live with "no strings attached"- to try my best to give and not care about what I'm getting out of it. Because it all goes back to our end goal- being close to the Savior. And if that's all we ever get out of life, then that was a life well spent :)

***SISTER PETERSON IS RILEY NOW. Congrats on completing your mission!!! You were an AMAZING companion and step-mom, and had a big role in who I became as a missionary (for better or for worse ;) just kidding!). Thanks for singing with us at MPF! Love you!

General conference is next week!! Aw, yeah! Come listen to a prophet of God! 

Love you all! Kicking (and screaming) off my last full transfer as a missionary! Bittersweet! -Sister Brett

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

By their fruits ye shall know them...

TODAY WAS THE BEST! Andrew got baptized and it was AWESOME. When we first met him, he asked Sister Winters and me to share our thoughts on Matthew 7:20, the verse "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." Both of us bore testimony of the fruits of the gospel and how we've seen them in our own lives. We spent almost 3 hours with him that night at dinner with 3 of his other LDS friends (in the pic below) talking all about the fruits of the restored Church of Jesus Christ. The Spirit was really strong that night, and it was the next week he told us he was ready to be baptized! When he was bearing his testimony today right after he'd come out of the water, he quoted Matthew 7:20 :). 

MIRACLE TIME! There were a few this week! It's spring break, so we thought no one would be on campus....but we've actually met some AMAZING people the past few days! We met a super cool guy named Vinh who (because he had nothing going on because of break) came to every activity we had this past week! He came to FHE on Monday, institute dinner AND the eternal marriage institute class (that was an accident) on Tuesday, we taught him Wednesday, came to institute dinner on Thursday, came to lunch AND we taught him AND came to the St Patrick's Day party on Friday! Today is the first time we haven't seen him all week, but he's coming to church tomorrow! The major blessing is that he's Vietnamese and the elders quorum president is a Vietnamese recent convert!! He prayed for the first time and said a totally beautiful prayer- he promised to pray every night! I know as he continues to build a relationship with Heavenly Father his life will be blessed and filled with so much more peace!  We met a lot of new investigators and taught some lessons on campus, even when it looked barren! I know the Lord rewards us for our efforts. I think the best part of the week is when we were walking around on campus and this guy with a guitar came up and started serenaded us. He asked us what we thought, so I took his guitar and we sang a rebuttal! We did a dueling guitars thing and it was literally the best. 

Zone conference was this week and President Forbes told us AN APOSTLE IS COMING TO THE MISSION! Also, Laura asked us to go with her to get her Patriarchal Blessing tomorrow!!!! Also today I hit my 16 month mark?!? Also this is the 3rd surprise birthday party we've thrown for an elder this month. And our investigator Sharif brought his own birthday cupcakes to church. And Victor went to church in Rochester while he was on break! Good things are happening here. I'm just too lazy to type all of them. 
Love, Sister Brett

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Work hard, play hard!

This week was so crammed! So many good things happened! We started off the week with exchanges, so I went back to Blaine with a brand new missionary! She started off the day being really nervous about tracting houses and finished with complete confidence in herself knowing God had her back the whole time. The weather was CRAZY that day- a big storm blew in and there was hail and sideways rain as we were driving. We pulled over and sat inside McDonald's until it passed...when life gives you thunderstorms, get an ice cream cone :) She's already an on fire missionary! I LOVE getting to serve with the sisters in the zone, even if only for a day. But as much as I enjoy going to other areas, it felt like home to be back in the YSA! We have an AWESOME new investigator named Keith. He's pretty proud of his reformed Presbyterian background and knows a ton about the Bible...he was pulling out verses left and right! Bonus points for his Old Testament references. At first he was a little hesitant, but as the lesson went on he really opened up. When we shared about the apostasy he was on the same page and agreed that things were changed after Christ died and that His church wasn't on the earth anymore. That's where his pride of all the reformers like John Calvin and Martin Luther came in. We were super excited to share that we loved those reformers too! There have been tons of honest, truth-seeking men and women who did their best with the knowledge they had, and made some awesome reforms that blessed the lives of many people. But we know that Christ's original church has been restored to the earth today through a living prophet in accordance to God's plan and pattern that He's always followed. When we showed him the Book of Mormon and read from it with him, he said, "You know, I think you could convince me that this is all true." But we're not the ones who do the "convincing", all we can do is testify of what we know and the Holy Spirit witnesses the truthfulness of it. 

Yesterday was super cold, so Sister Winters and I resorted to our "bus contacting" approach and rode around campus talking to people. One of the people we started talking to was studying here at U of M, but he was from Vienna, VA. I told him I used to live there and it turns out we went to the same middle school! We knew all the same people, but we don't remember ever meeting each other. It was such a crazy coincidence that my best friends are his best friends, so we couldn't figure out why we'd never met before. AND his sister is going to BYU right now! God puts us in the places we need to be, and it was definitely not by coincidence I met Tanner yesterday! We invited him to the activities we have going on, so hopefully we'll see him again! Another crazy miracle happened yesterday- there's this guy who's been taught for three years now, and he never really progressed all that much. But he had us over for dinner and said totally out of the blue, "I want to get baptized next Saturday. Can we do that?" Um, yeah, I think we can pull that off. So we've been trying to run around and plan the service and make programs and get everything approved by next's no minor feat, but it's the BEST! He's so awesome, we are SO PUMPED for him to get dunked! Speaking of people getting dunked, Victor brought his friend to meet with us yesterday and was telling her his conversion story- it was so cool! She's looking for another church to go to, so we invited her to come with Victor on Sunday. Hopefully she'll want to learn more!

Also while we were out on campus, we started talking to this guy who'd just won a free pizza, so he gave us a slice while we were talking- #score. But on top of THAT tender mercy, it turns out he's attending the School of Music here and wants to be a music producer! He was walking to his studio on campus and invited us to come check it out, so we went with him, and it turns out the studios at U of M are LEGIT! He actually had just come to the realization he didn't have a relationship with God and he really wanted one, so we had an awesome conversation with him about what we do as missionaries. AND he said he'd produce a song for us! So Sister Winters and I wrote a little diddy about the Plan of Salvation, so we'll get to do that before the end of the transfer! 

Shout-out to my trainer, Sister Teuscher, who is now Sister Walker BECAUSE SHE GOT MARRIED!!! You always joked about getting married before I got home, but now I see you were 100% serious #lowkey. Also, shout-out to our mission president's wife for giving us permission to watch Pride and Prejudice with the Relief Society! #romancetrunky It's weird to think that in 2 months I won't have to ask permission to watch a movie...but until them I'm relishing in the moments that I do! :)

 Funny moments of the week: (Actually this will probably only be funny if you served a mission)- We were trying to have a meeting with the zone leaders, but we were the only ones in the institute building and we didn't have rule of three, so the elders locked themselves in the library and we Facetimed our whole meeting from the hallway...afterwards we weren't quite sure if that had actually solved the rule of three problem, but we tried to be creatively obedient! This week was also Elder Cordara's birthday, so we emailed his mom and arranged all his home birthday traditions- it was so much fun! We sneakily decorated the institute building and hid notes from his family and friends around the room. Birthdays on the mission are sometimes hard, but I think this one was a success!  We also had zone P-day which was a blast! St Paul Zone is the best!

Hope everyone has a great week! Love, Sister Bret

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Do Not Attempt in Heels!

I honestly can't believe it's Pday again. I swear the weeks are getting shorter and shorter! It's already March...that's insane! This week has been jam-packed and awesome. We just got back from the temple this morning, it was great. We had Missionary Leadership Council in Bloomington and talked about the finding effort in the mission. We're working hard to find new investigators- Sister Winters and I have a companionship goal of getting a new investigator every day. We don't always reach it, but we're constantly striving! God blesses our efforts, I can attest to that :) We had a lot of luck this week because Laura is literally a better missionary than all of us and asked to go contacting on campus with us! She would stop people and talk to them about who we were and invite them to activities, and of course because she's gorgeous and friendly people are going to say yes! So we had some new faces at activities this week! Including this awesome guy named Marvin. We saw him on the street and just started talking to him, and he said he was having a rough day. He basically told us his whole life story and how he moved out to Minnesota for his girlfriend who had just broken up with him...awkward. But the cool thing is that he didn't have anything better going on on a Friday night, so he came to the institute! 

Later, we were on campus and we stopped to talk to this adorable Asian girl, and when she saw our name tag she said, "I'm a member! I just moved here from China and I've been praying I could find where the church was, and God sent me you!" It was such a miracle! Also on campus, we started talking to this guy who gave us free pizza from Dominos, and he told us he was going over to his music studio to finish an assignment for class. We started talking about music and said we could come check it out! So we walked over with him to the hecka nice U of M recording studios and he played us some of his music. But what's even cooler is that he said recently he'd had some spiritual experiences that made him want to get close to God, so he's looking for somewhere to go for church- how about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? :) (also, he said he'd record a song for us! #missioncelebs). 

We went on exchanges this week and I stayed here in the YSA with Sister Hermansen. She came out with my trainee, so when she said she would be hitting her 6 month mark soon I freaked- I can't believe that was so long ago! Time is flying by way too fast! 

This week I also finally finished reading the Bible! On my mission I've been able to read all of the standard works (The Old & New Testament, The Book of Mormon, The Doctrine & Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price). I've learned so much studying from the scriptures, but even though I've read the same chapters and verses over and over again, I always take something new out of it for my life. Reading the Bible all the way through reaffirms my testimony of the Book of Mormon and the truthfulness of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Everything in its pages points to truths that were lost after centuries of apostasy that I know have been  brought back by Joseph Smith, a prophet of God. 

Tender mercy of the week:
Got free cute shoes from a member! Note to self: boots with heels are cute, but NOT for walking around campus (lesson learned). 

Love y'all lots! Talk soon! -Sister Brett

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Southern Hospitality + "Minnesota Nice" = Miracles

This week has been great! Lots of exciting things happened. First off- shoutout to my trainer, Sister Teuscher who is getting MARRIED next month!! And to the other 3 sisters I served around who are also getting hitched in March. #firstcomeslove #thencomesmarriage #thencomesamomvan

ALSO, Laura went to the temple for the first time!!! We went with her to go do baptisms and she did 18 names! It was so amazing. The Spirit was so strong and Laura is excited to start doing her family history work to bring her ancestor's names to the temple. (1 Corinthians 15:29). She also spoke at the mission president fireside and was FAB! A lot of the ward members came to support her- we had a big party in the front two pews! Also got to see Sister Peterson...can't believe she's going home in less than a month! Seeing your companions go home is WEIRD. 

We went on exchanges this week and I got to go work in Blaine. The sisters there are working on finding new investigators, so Sister Richardson and I went tracting! We prayed about where to go, and we looked at a map and saw a street named Mississippi right by the area we were going to be in. I figured it had to be a sign! So we went to that street and it was a total success! EVERY HOUSE we knocked at let us in to teach a lesson! A little piece of southern hospitality right here in MN :) One of them was a SUPER cool Hmong family! They kept asking if my mom was Hmong because I looked too white to actually be from Laos, and no white people speak Hmong haha. Either the Hmong elders or Sister Winters and I will have to go back to teach (I'm a little selfish and kinda wanna teach them haha!), but it was such a miracle that we found them and that we decided who would go where for exchanges. The power of inspiration! 

The other day we had a booth set up in the Student Center advertising institute and church, and this guy walks up and starts asking about our beliefs in Jesus Christ. He told us he's Muslim but was interested in learning more about Christianity! So we've been teaching him, and it's definitely been way cool! It reminds me of being in Hmong work where most of them are Shaman and don't believe in God or Jesus Christ, so you have to go back to the very very basics. I love it! Because that's where the beauty of the gospel is- it's so simple! He came to church and has been coming to the activities we've had and he's getting fellowshipped super well! 

Everything else is going great in the YSA. I really really love it here! 

Love, Sister Brett

2 Nephi 26:23-25

"23 ​For behold, my beloved brethren, I say unto you that the Lord God worketh not in ​​​darkness​.
​​​​​24 ​He doeth not ​​​anything​ save it be for the benefit of the world; for he ​​​loveth​ the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw ​​​all​ men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation.
​​​​​25 ​Behold, doth he cry unto any, saying: Depart from me? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; but he saith: ​​​Come​ unto me all ye ​​​ends​ of the earth, ​​​buy​ milk and honey, without money and without price."

Friday, February 24, 2017

Frat row = Prime proselytizing!!

Hey hey! It's been a party in the YSA- the weather is gorgeous, like 60 degree gorgeous. The institute is right next to frat row, so we've been hearing the bass bumpin' all day for a week. #notcomplaining. You know you're an old missionary when you don't recognize a single song that gets played...probably obvious since I hit my 15 month mark today. 

Nice weather= people in a better mood= more people to talk to! We met these really nice girls from another church group on campus. We started talking to them about their beliefs and shared with them some of ours. They said they wanted to learn more about the Book of Mormon! Of course, right when we start talking about it their pastor walked by and totally gave us the stink-eye...but we set up a time to meet with them the next day! So we met at a cafe by campus and taught them about the restoration of the gospel. They were super receptive! They did say their preacher sent them a "website with some information" on the Church...we talked about going to reliable and accurate sources for truth- most importantly Heavenly Father! They asked a lot of questions about things he had told them about Mormons (none of it was correct, not surprisingly). Once we answered them they were kind of upset he would tell them things that weren't true so they wouldn't meet with us, but we told them that he probably just wanted to protect them- so many people are mis-informed, it most likely wasn't deliberate. Afterwards we went to walk them to their car, but it got towed! She had parked in a customer only parking for another store, so we called up a member and went with them to pick it up. We felt SO BAD. It was super expensive too, so Sister Winters and I pooled together the cash we had on us to try to cover some of it. We literally felt so terrible and figured they would think it was some sort of sign to never meet with us again! But they texted us after and said they should be coming to church tomorrow!

Tomorrow Laura is speaking at the mission president fireside! We are so excited! She's bringing a lot of her friends, and we've got several investigators going. Some of them have hit a few walls that are making it harder for them to progress, but they're keeping the goal of baptism in their sights for the near future! I truly believe that no matter what we're dealing with, the Atonement of Jesus Christ will help us and heal us. Without His grace, we could never overcome our sins and weaknesses, but with it we can do anything! We've been trying to teach repentance more and focus on making changes in their life so they'll notice the effect the gospel is making. All repentance is, is turning our hearts to align more with God's will. It's deciding to not listen to inappropriate music so you can feel the Spirit more. It's apologizing to someone even when it's hard because you know it's what the Savior would have you do. It's reading your scriptures when you want to watch Netflix because you understand the importance of growing your faith through study and personal revelation. All those things constitute as repentance. It's not just owning up to sins, it's changing your life to be more in harmony with Christ and His teachings. We all have things to repent of every day- when we make it a habit to ask for His help to overcome our shortcomings, we feel an increase of the Spirit and even more of His love. 

Anyways, hope you all have a great week! -Sister Brett

Ether 12:37 "​And it came to pass that the Lord said unto me: If they have not charity it mattereth not unto thee, thou hast been faithful; wherefore, thy garments shall be made ​​​clean​. And because thou hast seen thy ​​​weakness​ thou shalt be made strong, even unto the sitting down in the place which I have prepared in the mansions of my Father."

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Can you spell M-I-R-A-C-L-E?

I don't have a lot of time to email today! Transfers were great- Sister Winters and I are staying together, and so are the elders, but we got another set of elders! So now there's six missionaries running around campus...we're taking over U of M! We also have 3 new baptismal date-sets!! Literally every single day we've seen miracle after miracle...Heavenly Father has prepared so many people to hear the gospel! 

We taught Jeanne about the Word of Wisdom and she loved it! She's a nurse, so she understands the health benefits, but she also loves her coffee to get through overnight shifts and her glass of wine at the end of the day haha...but she said she would give it all up! Her biggest concern was what her family would say, but she told them she was getting baptized and they were fine! They were a little sad it wasn't the Lutheran church, but as long as she's happy and improving her life, they're all for it. 
Vivian is doing so well! It turns out one of the students in her program is a member of the church, so they've been talking a lot about the gospel together. He's married and has been telling her how much the Church has blessed his family- she really loves how family-centered we are. She agreed to be baptized next month! We watched Meet the Mormons with her and a few of our other investigtors and she cried- some of the stories were really relatable to her and gave her a lot of strength. She's the best!
Laura has officially been a member for a whole week! She is SO amazing. And going on a hecka lot of dates. She's embraced the gospel so incredibly, the ward is so lucky to have her! Hope everyone has a great week, Happy Valentine's Day! 

Quote of the week: "Oh my gosh, I'm the worst. I'm like the white guy who told Rosa Parks to go to the back of the bus." -Sister Winters 

Love, Sister Brett

Monday, February 6, 2017


Today was AMAZING!!! Laura was baptized!!! Everything went smoothly and was relatively stress-free haha. Except for the fact that the hot water wasn't working in the font, so after we filled it up we boiled three giant cauldrons of water and poured it in before she got least she`ll have a funny baptism story to tell! Tomorrow at church she will receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost and be confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints! I am so grateful that the priesthood authority of God, which was lost centuries ago through apostasy, was restored to the earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith. Now we can baptize and confer the Holy Ghost through God's authority and into His Son`s true and living church! Three of our investigators came to the baptism and said they were excited for theirs!

This week was such a spiritual high! During accounting our district leader asked us what we were struggling with this week, and we couldn't find a single thing that we were stressing out about. We keep finding great investigators, theyve all been showing up to church and activities, and a majority of them have asked US to be baptized (not the other way around for the first time!). We keep waiting around for something bad to happen, because there's no way things could be consistently going this well! Transfer announcements are coming up Monday, so hopefully nothing crazy happens and Sister Winters and I stay together! 

We had zone conference on Friday and it was SO great! There were three zones with us, so I got to see some of my companions! *Shoutout to Sister Peterson (who I was with over a year ago now! #throwback), Sister Xiong, and Sister Wilcox!* Somebody said something that I really loved, and it was, "Its through obedience that we gain knowledge." It made me think of John 7:17 where Jesus says (talking about Heavenly Father), "If any do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself." Basically, if we want answers, we have to do what God has asked of us. Its by experience that we gain the testimony that those commandments bring us true joy and happiness. We`ll never know if we dont try! So prove it for yourself- follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and see if your life changes for the better- its the only way we can know of the truth! 

Last PDay we went to the zoo and ran into the Eau Claire missionaries and some of the members from the Hmong branch! It was fun seeing them again! Then we went to a U of M basketball game. This area is the best!

The Church is True; the Book is Blue!!!!

I could swear Saturday was 3 days ago, but I guess it's already PDay again! #nocomplaints. This week was PACKED- it was awesome! Heavenly Father has been blessing us with SO many prepared hearts. From the start of the week we've gotten referral after referral, new investigator after new investigator! It's insane! We spend a good part of our day contacting people and walking around campus talking to students. There's such a melting pot of nationalities here, so our teaching pool is pretty culturally diverse! A teaching missionary is a happy missionary, which explains why Sister Winters and I are on Cloud 9. If you'd told me I'd ever teach the Restoration to a group of people on a public transit bus, I would think I'd have gone crazy. But I've come to feel such a deep personal love for the gospel that I'm more concerned for people's eternal welfare than I am about looking stupid (good thing, cuz missionaries look stupid a lot of the time, haha!). 

LAURA`S BAPTISM IS NEXT SATURDAY! I am SO excited!!! She's been inviting everyone and telling every person she meets that she's joining the church. She decided this week that if her dad really cared about coming, he would come on the day she felt ready to be baptized, so instead of pushing it back, she's sticking with her original date. Family opposition is so hard, but she's overcoming it like a champ. All things are possible through Christ, who strengthens us! We taught Jeanne about tithing and the importance of helping build up the Kingdom of God on the earth. When we started the lesson she had some concerns about it, but by the end after the Spirit had touched her, she saw what a blessing paying tithing was and committed to be a full-tithe payer after she's baptized! She told us she feels ready and wants to make that step now- she just has to tell her family. I'm so excited for her! 

A new investigator we're teaching now is SUCH a crazy miracle. He's been taught by the missionaries for 2 years, but a couple months ago he told them he wasn't ready to join the church because he was afraid of the persecution he would get, so he stopped meeting with them and told them not to contact him, that he would get in touch when he was ready. So we had no clue who this guy was, but his name and info popped up under "New Referral" in our Area Book (which was a totally fluke because he's not a referral OR new, so his name shouldn't have been there). So we reach out and contact him, having no idea about his history with past lessons, and he said he wanted to meet as soon as possible! So in walks the sweetest kid with this bow tie and loafers and dressed all fancy, and we have this amazing lesson with him and he tells us all about his past and why he hasn't joined the church, even though he believes it's true. He said the past 2 years he just hadn't connected with any of the elders or sisters, but he felt like Sister Winters and I were the ones to help him finally commit to be baptized despite his fears about what his friends or family will say. There's another hurdle in his desire to be baptized that involves changing something for the rest of his life. He knows it's not right, but he's afraid those tendencies won't go away, even after he's baptized. When he opened up the Spirit just filled the room- all three of us were crying. He has SO much faith and knows things will work out, either in this life or the next. He's AMAZING! 

Being in a YSA ward can only mean one thing....DRAMAAAAA. Which is all fun and games until it involves both of your investigators- who both are dating the SAME GUY IN THE WARD. Which can only end one way- badly. So we're low key stressing about how that whole situation is going to turn out. We're in the process of trying to play matchmaker and find someone else for both of's a struggle. But the Lord will work it all out! 

This week was also exchanges! Sister Ching came to my area and we worked here! She's from Los Angeles, so we spent 90% of the time reminiscing haha. I love getting to spend time with different sisters throughout the transfer- being an STL is the best! 

Funny story: So we go out contacting and give away all our Book of Mormons, and then we meet this AMAZING single mom who we feel really strongly needs a BoM. But we didnt have any to give her, except for the personal copy I use that I've been writing notes in and marking for a good chunk of my mission. It was probably against better judgment, but I gave her my copy hoping I'd get it back eventually! But we set up a return appointment with her and she said she'd been reading the highlighted parts and they really touched her. So hopefully there will be more to report on next week! 

*Quotes of the week*

Random guy on campus: "Can I just say something? Mormons are the hottest of all Christians."

*after teaching about the gospel of Jesus Christ*
Brother Woodward: "And you know what happens after we endure to the end?"
Laura: "The Millenium?"

Love you all! -Sister Brett

Saturday, January 21, 2017

30 Degree Heatwave!

This week was such a blur, there's no way it's already Pday again! Classes started up at U of M, so the campus has tons of students walking around now- which is awesome, because we've been able to talk to so many more people! One of those people is Vivian. She's from Columbia and getting her PhD in Linguistics (Espana). We saw her walking on campus and invited her to a spaghetti dinner everyone from institute was going to- and she actually showed up! Whats awesome is almost half the ward served Spanish speaking missions, so people were connecting with her and enjoying using their Espanol (even though her English is perfect). We taught her about the Restoration and she was super excited to read El Libro De Mormon :) Last night it was her birthday, so a member took us and her out to dinner and then we had Friday Night Activity with the ward. Everyone adores Vivian, and she adores them right back! 

Laura is still AMAZING. And AWESOME news- her father is coming to her baptism!!! The only day he can make it is February 12th, so Laura is willing to move her date back a week so he can come. She's a little sad she can't do it as soon as she wanted to, but knows this could really build their relationship. Last Saturday we went to the Mall of America with her and Emma, a recent convert. It was SO much fun! They goaded me into riding a roller coaster, which I totally got sick from, but it was so worth it haha! Also, our district went to the temple! It was so nice to be able to feel the Spirit so strongly in the Lord's house. And I saw lots of people from Eau Claire who decided to take a trip there! It was a nice mini-reunion. 

Jeanne and Laura went to the Mission President's Fireside, where converts share their conversion stories. Jeanne said how much she loved it and wished they had it every week! Laura went up to Presdient Forbes and told him she would be speaking next month- his reaction was priceless. Usually you get invited to speak, but she is definitely on fire and wants to share her story! So he set it up and now she's set to speak at the one next month! 

We had exchanges this week and I got to work with Sister Woo, who goes home from her mission to Hong Kong next month! It's crazy how in 18 months you can go from speaking no English to being practically fluent. There's still a little bit that gets lost in translation when she talks, but it always ends up being hilarious, so it all works out :) She joined the church when she was 16 with her mom, and they're the only members in her family. But she hopes her example will guide them to the truth. 

Last night we had SEVEN INVESTIGATORS at our activity!!! The work is ROCKIN at U of M! I love this area so much, there are so many people willing to learn about the true church of Christ. Being a missionary is the best ever, especially right here, right now. Hope everyone has a great week! 
Love, Sister Brett 

*Tender mercy: the past few days have been in the 20s and 30s...aka SUMMER!!