Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Saratov Week 9 - "Balakovo, city of miracles!!"

March 9, 2015
All is well,

Oh man. I am still in shock about how much can happen on a mission in just one week. Or a day, or even a few hours. I sometimes feel that I will do more on a mission that I will ever do in my entire life. 

SO, we went to Balakovo on exchanges this week, my birth place :') And WOW was that refreshing. I just fell back in love with everyone there. Not only the members, but literally that people on the streets! I am sorry but I have to say it, people are just straight up nicer in Balakovo. It's so easy to give out Books of Mormon there. However, Saratov is waiting for a stake, so of course there going to be more persecution there. ANYYYWAY. I will just relate some of the things that happened in Balakovo. 

First of all, Sv... (someone our companionship baptized) was in Moscow, so I didn't get to see her but I talked to her over the phone and she is doing great :) still going strong and reading her scriptures every day! Then we did get to meet with S, the 15 year old girl who was baptized is doing so so good. She just gets it. I wouldn't be surprised if she goes on a mission someday. And then we also met with N, who is handicapped and just about died when she opened the door and saw me. I have never seen anything cuter in my life. She was just jumping up and down and hugging me and then would look at my face and then hug me again. But the best meeting that we had by far was with a less active member named "E".

Sister Martinez said that "E" texted the sisters one night and said, "I need help. I have a drinking problem and I have been avoiding meeting with you because I thought you'd be disapointed." The sisters haven't been able to meet with her since I've been gone and we finally got a meeting set up for when I came. We didn't know whether or not we should bring a member with us because we were afraid that she might not open up, but president Schwab said that it is always better to have a member than have none at all. So we invited the new branch president, Zhenya. I was just praying the whole time that we could touch her heart. That we could somehow been instruments by which she could feel her Heavenly Father's love and have a desire to come back to him. The lesson was focused on Christ and we read and studied about why we need an atonement. We asked her if she still prays and said said no. That just broke my heart. I then told her how much her Heavenly Father loves and adore her, how precious she is to him and how precious their relationship is to him. And that was did it for her, she just began to sob. Zhenya then offered her a blessing, and I nodded encouragingly toward her. As he blessed her, tears just streamed down her face. One thing that really stood out to me during that blessing were the words, "God wants to speak to you." The spirit was so strong there. We invited her to start praying again, AT LEAST once a day. As we got up to leave I hugged her and reminded her, "don't forget who you are, and don't forget that God wants to talk to you." The tears began to stream again and she told me she loved me and thanked us for coming. That was one of the most powerful lessons I have had on my mission. I know it was so sacred to my Heavenly Father. 

Nothing breaks my heart more than knowing that people have stopped praying. Prayer is the most important source of relationship building with God, and Satan understands that quite well. Don't let him convince you that prayer is important, and when you have that thought say, "WHOOOA Hey there Satan! You really just gave yourself away by giving me that thought because anything that tells me not to pray is from the devil!" NEVER STOP PRAYING. I literally don't know how I could even survive ONE DAY here in Russia without prayer. 

I myself am doing okay. I have been thinking that something is wrong with me lately because I've been so down in the dumps and I just feel like a drag, and I don't know why?! I am praying praying praying to be lifted up and to rely on Christ, because I literally have NO reason to complain or be sad. We have investigators. We have seen baptisms. I was just wondering what on earth is wrong with me as we were walking out of the church building yesterday and I was suddenly BLINDED by the sun. I was instantly just filled with JOY! I MISS THE SUN SO MUCH. Seriously I think I am lacking in vitamin d or something. Goodness. Thank goodness winter is almost over. Pray for the sun to keep coming out :) and this might be the most missionary thing I'll ever say, but it really just reminded me of the Savior. A life without sun is like a life without the Savior. 

Yesterday was my halfway mark on my mission and it was also national womans day which is a HUGE holiday in Russia. My companion and I got roses and soap and candy from people at church :) Also a really old babooshka approached me at church yesterday and commended me for wearing my hair in a braid and not letting my hair down like all the other wild girls these days. Russian grandmothers are great :) 

Such a miraculous week. Truly. And a mission really is the best decision I have ever made. It is the hardest thing I've ever done but every aspect of it really is worth it. 

Sister Wilson 

Sister Wilson refers to the importance of the sun and it's affect on her mood, and she likened that light to our Savior, Jesus Christ. Elder David A. Bednar, an apostle in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, teaches more about Light HERE

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Saratov Week 7 - "I am right where I am supposed to be!"

February 24, 2015 
All is well,

Where do I even start? 

At English group this week I was with Sister Palmer and Sister Chase because I was waiting for sister Coleman to come down to Saratov. At english group I was sitting next to a boy on the very end of the row, R, who knew very little English and asked me to translate much of the time. We were explaining the apostasy and ending up playing telephone to show how things get completely skewed up when truth doesn't come directly from the source of truth. Because I was second to last I had a thought to just change the entire sentence completely... but instead of making up a new sentence I just whispered a bunch of gibberish into R's ear something that didn't make sense in English or in Russian that sounded something like, "selkfjlke sdoi aspoie wex ielk" which he was totally cheating so he wrote it down on paper and then when it was time for him to say it he read it out loud and it made NO sense. I don't think I've laughed so hard in sooo long. Everyone in the room was laughing with us as he continued to say the sentence with his Russian accent which just made it twice as funny. He was a real good sport about it too :) Maybe this isn't even funny... but it was, you had to be there ;) 

At 12:00 that night we went to the train station and picked up my new companion. Oh man. I am with the lovely Sister Coleman :) She has one of the most outstanding personalities that I have ever beheld. She is just a very thoughtful person and so honest and open with me about things. I can't wait to see the miracles that will happen in Solnechney thanks to having such a strong companion here, and she is just ready to WORK. She really understands a few things quite well. And that number one... We are here to baptized people. We do not need to be meeting with people who are just willing to meet with us to talk about religion. Our purpose as missionaries is to do what? Help people to receive the restored gospel, which includes BAPTISM. We should not be meeting with ANYONE just because they are willing to meet. If we give up those people who are willing to meet with us then Heavenly Father will help us to find those who are ready and willing to act on the message. So, we have been clearing out our area a tad and been putting some people away and are going to get out and do some more finding, which will be AMAZING because contacting with Sister Coleman is the best thing ever.

This weekend we will be having a baptism :) F is getting baptized and she is so ready. She will probably be a relief society president someday, I will be honest. She is so giving. Wow if I could describe that woman I would say honest and charitable. And I can honestly say that Sister Coleman and I really haven't done anything to deserve this baptism. Heavenly Father is just very generous and gives because he loves us. 

My prayers are going to be a lot more personal with Heavenly Father... I think I am just realizing how personal my relationship with him is and how personal it is with each individual being here on this earth. Knowing that I talked face to face with God just as Moses did before this life helps me to trust him so much more, it helps me to trust that he also is preparing each one of his children to return to him by stacking up special experiences, and when the time comes each one of them will be ready to accept his plan. 

If anyone is thinking about going on a mission... I would recommend a yes :) It's the best decision I've ever made. I will never regret serving a mission. I would not rather be any where else in the world. 

Love, Sister Wilson 

PS I know that I am in the highest incident mission in the entire mission field, but I have never felt more safe in my life. Especially as sisters. I've rarely felt that I am in danger. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Saratov Week 6 - "Cast your burdens on the Lord"

February 16, 2015
All is Well,

Sister Busman and I had a wonderful last week together :) She is really such a sweet sister. She is so mindful of others and I could honestly go on and on about that Swedish sister. I learned so many things from her and I felt honored to be her last companion. I was so nervous for transfer calls, I knew that I would be staying in Solnechney, but with my companion going home I would be getting a new companion, but mom, guess who I am with, SISTER COLEMAN. I almost jumped out of my seat when Sister Schwab called. I have to confess that in my last letter that I wrote to president I almost said, "Hey... if you want any ideas for transfers, I wouldn't mind serving with Sister Coleman." I am sooo excited. I have only heard the very best things about her, but she is probably the one sister that I have never actually met. And knowing that she was ending her mission soon I was feeling so bummed that I might never get to meet her. But guess what? Heavenly Father knows my heart so well. This cycle is going to be amaaaazing. Something funny is that sister Coleman's little brother was my "EFY crush" I have to admit that I'm a lot more eager to be friends with her now though hahaha. I can already tell that I'm about to serve with a lifelong friend :) Ahh... dreams come true.
Right now I am in an internet cafe with Sister Johnson and Sister McKell. For some reason I won't be with Sister Coleman until Thursday. Also Sister Martinez was made sister training leader, I totally saw that coming. She is such a star. I love that sister so much. Also I think that means that I will be doing splits with her, meaning that if she feels inspired... I can come back up to Balakovo for splits. Ohhhh this transfer is going to be so much fun. I so hope that I can go back to Balakovo and see my beloved birthplace.
 The mother of a new convert has been coming to church. Yesterday during sunday school she said, "people always talk about not being afraid to share the gospel with people and getting the courage to share it with people... but I feel the exact opposite. When I am here at church I feel that I want to share it with everyone!" Her name is F and she is AMAZING. She gathers her whole family around us when we come over. We set a baptismal date for her on the 28th of Februrary :) 
My testimony is strengthened with every week that I serve my mission, but one day this week I experienced something a little more profound, a little more sweet. I woke up and thought about the things ahead of me for the day... and I noticed something, or maybe it was that I noticed a LACK of something. I felt no hope for the day. My heart just felt so weighed down and I felt an ache or a thirst for something, a hole that needed to be filled. I feel that I am doing the things that should be drawing me closer to God, reading scriptures, praying, testifying, but I still feel far from him. Feeling more and more weighed down and hopeless as the morning went on I locked myself in the bathroom and got down on my knees and asked for help, for comfort, for more love in the work. Feeling frustrated I began to cry. I felt the need for something, or someone, and I just confessed that I really cannot do this alone, I asked that my burdens would be made light through Christ's atonement. As soon as I thought the words, I felt an immense relief. My tears immediately stopped. And I thought to myself, "Hey, I still want to cry. I need to let these feelings out!" But I couldn't. My body didn't need to cry any more, the sorrow was gone. It was as if my well of tears had been completely dried up. I felt a reassuring feeling from my Heavenly Father that my mission has been acceptable to him, and that he wants me to press forward... but with the knowledge that I don't need to do it on my own. 
I felt that he was saying to me, "Sister Wilson, you are doing wonderful, but if I could give you one point of advice... I would ask that you rely more on the redeeming and relieving power of the Savior. Why are you trying to do this on your own?" And he's right.
Why am I trying to do this on my own? It's sooo so much easier just doing all the good that we can do and then leaning on the Savior for all that we can't. My testimony of the redeeming power of the atonement was strengthened, also the fact that God does answer our prayers. And sometimes he answers them in months... and sometimes he answers them immediately. 

Have a wonderful week everyone :) Missions are miracles.

Love, Sister Brooklyn Wilson