Saturday, May 30, 2015

Saratov - Week 16 - "Obedience brings Blessings"

May 4 2015

All is well :) 

This week O was baptized and it was such a special baptism. I have never seen a baptism that was so perfect! I also played "I Know that my Redeemer Lives" by Paul Cardall on the piano. Regardless of the fact that I haven't played piano basically since I left the MTC I was still able to play as if I had practiced all week :) Heavenly Father really helped me, of that I am absolutely certain. 

One of our investigators that we found this cycle has had an ENORMOUS ammount of progress. It was shocking to me on our last lesson. She is understanding the doctrine SO well, compared to our first lesson when I felt like we were getting no where. She love love loves meeting with us and having lessons and understands so well our role here and everytime we ask her, "are you coming to church this week?" she says, "absolutely!" Oh how I love that answer. To me, coming to church is the most important commitment that we give to investigators, and for some reason it is the one that they have the hardest time following through with, so when they do follow through with it it just makes me sooo happy and relieved. It's always a mystery on Sunday of who or who will not come to church.

Once again it was a really great week. We had a lot of lessons and were running from place to place. I honestly feel like there are plenty of missionaries who deserve to be in my shoes and enjoying this part of the vineyard. I know for a fact that there are missionaries who are more obedient and hard working than I am. So why are we experiencing such great success? Every act of obedience brings blessings. To whom that blessing will go or where it will go we have no idea, but we can be certain that the blessings are there. This week while I was praying and pondering and asking questions I had a strong impression come to me that this part of the vineyard is blossoming not only thanks to the prayers and the obedience of ourselves, but of other people's prayers and other people's acts of obedience. 

I really am striving to push out doubts and just act on faith. Something my companion said this morning really hit me. She said that Satan tries to get us to do missionary work the easiest and most comfortable way possible. But the truth is that missionary work is always uncomfortable and will always be hard if we are not exercising faith in Christ. Lately I have really just be pushing to remember all that God has done for us, all the AMAZING blessings that are in this area and I am trying to not let my day to day mood drag me down. 
I realized today that our desires change depending on our mood, so... let's not depend on our moods, let's depend on faith in Christ :) which is constant and unwavering. 

I am doing well as a missionary. I have recently realized that I have actually developed a lot of spiritual progress on my mission, and I am so grateful. Thanks to my mission I have developed a love for reading the scriptures, I have learned HOW to exercise faith in Christ, I now feel a deep need to pray, and at the end of every day I can get on my knees and use the great gift of repentance :) Such small things that have such a big impact on our lives. 

I love my mission. I thank Heavenly Father for the experiences I have gained here every single night. 

Love, Sister Wilson 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Saratov - Week 15 - "This week was AMAZING"

April 27 2015
All is well :)

Where do I even staaaart? I loved this past week so so much. This is gonna be a long one :) 

This week we had zone conference and exchanges :) The APs talked about how we really need to widen our net. We have a promise from the area presidency that Russia's baptisms will increase 10 fold, it is actually prophesied to be the next Brazil. When I first heard that my jaw just dropped. RUSSIA, cold, hard Russia... the next Brazil? For that reason I am really really glad that this is God's work and not mine :) I just get to participate in it! We were suggested that we need to be taking more hours to contact. Which I was really worried about because we don't actually have a ton of time to contact as a companionship. For whatever reason Heavenly Father has really blessed this part of the vineyard and we have plenty of progressing investigators that we are working with. But president clarified not to worry about that, because obviously our investigators take presidence over contacting. Actually I think I'll just take a minute and tell you about our investigators. I don't think I talk about them enough. 

There's O, who will be baptized this week (more on that later) The sisters gave her an invitation to church and she called the missionaries herself (that seriously rarely happens, so talk about chosen) she is 22 and beeeautiful and honestly understands the gospel.

Another is Ni, who is a 50 year old. Oh my goodness I have never met someone with a richer character in my entire life. I wish you could meet some of these people. She is so whimsy and ditsy and acts like a fairy god mother. The other week she begins to sing a song about Christ and how he was resurrected and that we need to follow him, it lasted about 30 seconds and then she turns to me and says, "Did you like it?" I say, "yes Ni, very much!" Then she gives a little sly smile and says, "I made it up myself." She was a referral from a less active member. 

Then there's Na, B, N, K, L, and a few others that we meet with less regularly. Such a blessing to be able to teach people :) 

English club this week seemed to go especially well. This week we taught about the word of wisdom and we had a little object lesson where we came in the room and said, "Sorry we usually bring refreshments of some kind but today we didn't have time, so we just picked up a bag of trash on the side of the road. We hope that maybe you will find something you like." then we poured out some trash and half eaten food onto a plate and offered it to each person. The point of this is to relate it to drugs, alcohol, and smoking and saying, "you'd never put that sort of garbage in your mouth!" (good analogy right?) Well I was absolutely shocked when I began to pass around the plate and people actually starting taking food off of it! It really wasn't off the side of the road, we just gathered some stuff from our apartment, but still! I couldn't help but laugh and little bit and feel bad. I was confused if it was that some of them were poor or what? Usually Russians are freaked out by germs. And some of them really were repulsed and said, "oh no no no! No thank you!" So that kind of ruined the object lesson a little bit haha :) 

Also, there was a new face there and I asked her what brought her to the church building. She said that she was riding her bike and that she decided to drop by the church buildilng. The members were cleaning that night and greeted her warmly. They told her to come back a few days later for english club and then to come to church on Sunday. This woman, A, is just a STAR. So so kind, she's like 50 years old and I feel like she's my aunt. Not to mention she speaks AMAZING english. So she came to english club and then on sunday she came to church and just fit in so well! I just love to picture the way that this 50 year old woman found the church. "I was riding on my bicycle one day and God led me straight to his church!" Something else that was shocking was that she even offered to come the next time that we clean the church and help the members. 
"I was riding on my bicycle one day
and God led me straight to his church!"

This week we had exchanges with Sister Martinez and her Russian companion Sister Matekina. Man I just have to say... I love sister Martinez so much. I feel so comfortable and happy around that darling latin girl. We served together almost 4 months ago now and we're still the best of friends. I know for sure that her and I will be real good friends after the mission. I trust her with all my heart and her and I can just be real honest with each other and it doesn't hurt at all, just strengthens the relationship :) She gave me one of the best compliments that I have ever gotten in my life, it's one that I've never really heard, so I think that's kind of why I like it. She said, "you are like a child. Not childish, but childlike." Just my reactions to things, or my questions, or my approach to things, my tone of voice, is like the excitement that a child has. I just loved that from her :) She is one of the hardest working missionaries I have ever met and she is FINALLY, finally reaching a difficult stage of her mission where she's just getting worn out. She's got 3 months left and her and I had a real good heart to heart. One of my favorite things about her is how absolutely humble she is and how Christlike she is. 

Another thing... In two months this mission will have about 9 sisters left. And then guess what happens... TWELVE sisters will be coming in. Hahahaha there will probably be greenies training greenies. Or there will be sisters with more than one trainee. Man it is going to be really interesting. All of the sisters will be training at one point or another in the next 7 months.

My companion and I are doing well :) No worries here. Missionary work is real great. After zone conference I had an interview with president, and asked if he had any advice for me. He gave me just a few words, he said, "I know that you have been worrying slightly about what lies down the road for you in the next few months. I would advice you not to worry about the unknown, but to throw yourself into the work and give those worries to your Heavenly Father." And that's just what I will do :) 

We had a MIRACLE yesterday. When we had our investigator, O, who rarely gives concrete answers or commitments to anything called us herself and said, "I really want to be baptized." I was stunned. I asked her to repeat what she said to make sure I heard it right and she again said, "I really want to be baptized." I totally just gave a shout for joy for all the neighbors to hear. We set up a baptismal date with her for the 2nd of May, which fell through because she'd be going out of town the 1st of May for 2 weeks, which we REALLY worried about her regressing during that period. So we asked for president's advice and he was quiet and said, "I am just really trying to listen to what the Spirit tells me right now, and I feel that she really needs to be baptized before she leaves." We told that to O, and she didn't know how she felt about it because she didn't feel that she'd recieved any concrete answer to her prayers yet. But she agreed to the 30th of April anyway and agreed to have it announced at church, but she was still unsure. Then after church yesterday she calls and gives us the news :) She apparently had a dream in which Heavenly Father made it known that she needs this in her life. 

This week we were also able to attend a baptism. I am really going to strive to attend more baptisms when I get home, if you need something to fill you with the spirit or strengthen your testimony, baptisms are a really great place to start. After the boy was baptized and was changing back into his normal clothes we waited in the chapel. 
While we waited we watched some Christ videos and when I realized the kind of life I am able to live thanks to Him I just started to bawl. I felt an immense gratitude for the opportunity to help others to find and partake of salvation. Thanks to Jesus Christ we are literally able to live fairytale lives. This work is so satisfying. It is so so hard. It is FUN. It is surprising :) I love the little miracles that God blesses us with. 
Like A, and like O. I can only describe such experiences as tender mercies. I am so glad that we don't have to think up miracles ourselves... God is so creative, all we have to do is exercise faith and he provides us with the miracles :)

With Love,

Sister Brooklyn Wilson 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Saratov - Week 14 - "Finding Joy in the Journey"

Last weeks letter from Brooklyn was only half a letter, kind of got cut off in the middle so we didn't send it out....
Thank you all for your love and support for Brooklyn
Happy Birthday Sister Wilson!

April 20, 2015
All is well!

I have very little time today to write, but I want to thank everyone for all the birthday wishes :) its so nice to know that I am loved even when I live so far away from home! I also can't believe I am 20 years old. That seems SO OLD. Oh my gosh I can't believe in 3 years I'll be 23, that's so old. I am totally getting smile lines by my eyes too. The elders in my district got me shaving razors and cat food and said, "now that you're a babooshka, these items will really come in handy" all the grandmothers here have really haneous beards and they all LOVE to feed the stray cats (which there are thousands of them here). Good one elders.... Haha :) They also got me some really good Russian candy. 

I recently took some time to read a talk by President Monson called, "Finding Joy in the Journey" (which my beloved parents sent me in a package) and that's just what I have been trying to do lately :) I will paraphrase the parts of his talk that really stood out to me. 

"Nothing is as constant as change. Time never stands still, it must steadily march on. 
This is our one and only chance at mortal life, or at a mission--here and now. 
If we pile up enough tomorrows, 
we will find that we have collected a lot of empty yesterdays. 
We need to make the most of TODAY, because that is where we are. 
Daydreaming of the past and longing for the future may provide comfort, 
but it will not take place of living in the present. 
What is most important almost always involves the people around us. 
Whatever your circumstance and where ever you are, 
you want to look back to that time and say that you lived happily." 

We need to let the Savior in our lives! Only with faith in Christ can we keep a steady flow of happiness. I know that for myself because being a missionary you can really get lost going through the motions sometimes because we literally do the same types of things every single day. When I get home I am sure that the same thing will happen, but what always makes the biggest difference for me is when I choose to believe in Christ. I choose to acknowledge that my day is known by him and that he knows exactly where I need to be and at what time. When I have faith that Christ will fulfill his promises it makes me just feel so much more peace. Honestly I feel that my nerves are on end a lot in my life, and putting Christ in charge of my life, taking upon myself His name, makes me feel calm and safe. His plan is better :) if we trust that he knows us perfectly (and he does) then we will be able to endure trials more patiently, we will be able to be kind in situations where we might be tempted to lash out in anger. We have to be the ones to choose to put our lives in Christ's hands, no body else can do that for us, he won't force us against our will, but his will is better. 

If you are holding back, give up! Give into the promptings of the Spirit. Fear not to do good :) And you will see the Lord's hand in your life. "No room in the Inn" was not the Savior's last rejection. We too must let him in. 


Sister Brooklyn Wilson 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Saratov - Week 12 - "Living as Christ Lived"

April 6, 2015
All is well,

Sorry this letter is going to be a short one. 

My companion got sick this week so being inside, the work has slowed down just a tad here in Solnechney. Which I have never had a sick companion before. But I did all I could to keep myself busy and wow did the time fly! Everything is stamped with our church's address and I did some Russian studies and made lots of tea and lots of calls :) She is feeling much better today though and we're all rested and recuperated so we should be ready to just go full speed this week! 

I am honestly just striving more to follow the spirit. Realizing that if I am getting a good prompting, that I need to follow through with it because its from God. We can ask ourselves, "at the end of the day, will following this prompting make me a better person?" if it produces any sort of spiritual growth and test of faith I am trying to follow through with it. 

We are praying for miracles every single day. Can't leave that out of prayers! This week we really met with some wonderful people. We saw people's hearts changed by the spirit and many of our plans fell through which required us to use our faith and to seek out the Lord's plan for us that day :) it's so interesting that for every day that we live on this earth... every hour we have is meant for something. If we are alive, it means that we have a purpose and that God wants us to go about living as Christ would. It's so amazing to look at the Savior's life. Never a better hero :) never a wasted day and not one regret! For that reason we really can look to the Savior and know what we need to be doing at all times. If you are sad, look to the Savior! If you're bored, look to the Savior. What would he do? All of us who have been baptized have taken upon ourselves the name of Christ, which means that we will try to live as he would. In that regards... I would say that if we have taken upon ourselves by covenant, the name of Christ then we better know him! How can you take upon yourself the name of a company without knowing anything about the product? It's the same with the Savior but even more serious because we've promised God to do so! We have made a covenant. So who is the Savior? For that reason we have God's written word. The scriptures :) read the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon to come to know him, and then ACT. The Book of Mormon is good for nothing unless its teaching get inside of us. Knowledge will not save us if we are not doing anything to live in accordance to that knowledge. So I challenge anyone who reads this to come closer to the Savior. Become saturated in his teachings and then let that knowledge make your life beautiful by seeing the fruit of living a Christlike life. I know that doing so will give you more purpose in your life and you won't feel so much that you are simply going through the motions. Let your life has purpose :) 

We will hear conference next weekend (and we will be listening to it in English of course). But I am so looking forward to that! I was once promised in a blessing that if I ever need any sort of motivation, that if I will look to the words of the prophets then I will be filled. And honestly I know that that is true. I love conference and have a strong testimony of the importance of watching it. You never know what sort of things God wants you to know :) 

Much love, 
Sister Brooklyn Wilson 

Click below for a beautiful video testifying of the life and divinity of our Savior

Monday, May 4, 2015

Saratov Week 11 - "Staying in Solcheney"

March 30, 2015
All is well :) 

Sister Coleman and Sister Wilson

Sister Coleman is flying home on an airplane as I am writing this letter, that is just crazy! I can't imagine what that plane ride feels like. I can't imagine what it feels like to step foot in your home again.

During zone training this week President Schwab said that we would be shocked if we could only see the amount of support fighting with us from the other side of the veil. My kids are helping me, my ancestors are helping me. I have so much love and support. I have good parents, wonderful siblings, cousins... and support from other missionaries who are here with us. I really mean it when I say that a mission only gives back. I cannot even count the endless amount of friendships that I have made, with members, with missionaries, and even with random people on the streets. The memories alone make a mission worth it (although that's not a good reason to go on a mission) I mean really though... who thought I'd be living in Russia for 18 months? If you told me that when I was 15 years old I would have laughed. What we put into a mission is what we will get back, that's really what it is. 

We are really praying for miracles every single day. One of the biggest miracles was talking about tithing with one of our investigators who is progressing toward baptism. This investigator was found over a year ago and is so so hard to get a hold of but she just soaks up spiritual knowledge like the sun. We have finally discovered that the best way to go about doing anything with her is always setting up return appointments. She knows what day we are coming and what time and she can prepare herself spiritually for those lessons. She even told us that when she knows we are coming over she is just antsy all day with anticipation to see us. This week we focused on the commandments with her and were very pleasantly surprised with her reaction to tithing. I feel bad for how little faith we had going over there! Tithing is usually something scary for people, and we know that N really struggles with work and with trying to take care of her family. However she was so open to it and accepted it without any doubts. She even said that she thinks it will probably help her with her financial problems. That's faith :) 

Last night we had a lesson that was based on faith. However as I was teaching the lesson I realized that I was simply speaking empty words that were true... but that had little meaning or feeling to me while I was saying it. I realized last night that I actually understand faith very poorly. I have also realized that one of the reasons why I am having a difficult time understanding this principle is because I haven't been exercising it. Exercising faith is looking unto Christ in every thought, doubting not, and fearing not. I reread the talk on faith by elder Bednar "according to thy faith" which president Bennett gave to us last summer as well as studying faith in true to the faith. We really need to study faith more. I feel like at the beginning of my mission I really understood what exercising faith meant because I was such a weak little missionary and I really relied on the Savior. However, now that I can speak the language, now that I am not afraid to talk to anyone, now that I know the gospel principles (not that I necessarily understand them all)... I have started to rely on my own power. How foolish! I need to set more goals and push myself harder. As soon as we are all snug in our comfort zone we are really in trouble. Sometimes when we are uncomfortable and really straining ourselves is when we see real miracles because we begin to rely on the redeeming power of the Savior. I really want to set more goals this week and use my faith and see the fruit of my works with God's help. 

My new companion is Sister Wagstaff, I've only been with her for a day, but from what I can see she is just a little ball of sunshine! :) 

Have a wonderful week!

Sister Brooklyn Wilson