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