Saturday, August 29, 2015

Bezi - Week 11 - "The Bitter and the Sweet"

July 27, 2015

All is well,

This week was a bit of a rough one. We spent last Monday on a train up to Penza to do splits with Sisters Wagstaff and Thomas. That was really fun :) it's always nice to have a change of scenary. Also it was fun serving with Sister Wagstaff again, she was my last companion and I have missed her spunky personality. We spent a lot of time singing Josh Groban together during meal times this week :) I loved the train rides, it was nice to just sit back for a few hours and write in my journal or read a Liahona. Although our area really took a hit from it this week... we only had 2 member present lessons and one investigator at church. 

My companion is doing great, we spent some time discussing how we can exercise more faith this morning and I agreed that we need to cast out negative thoughts by SPEAKING something positive. Words are more powerful than thoughts right? 

MIRACLE! One of our investigators, who is the father of a new convert, has been struggling to read the Book of Mormon, especially because it's harder for him to understand since its not in his native language. This week he had a dream about a book that he received from some higher power, and the pages of the book were glowing. He said that he knew that his dream was about the Book of Mormon. Even though he can't read it, he said that he received a testimony of its divinity thanks to this dream. We are always asking that Heavenly Father somehow bless our  investigators to know the truthfulness of the church. I am so grateful that we aren't the ones who need to think up these miracles, but that God gives a special witness to each person in a special way, because he is the only one who really knows what they need. 

I love church. So so much. If you are ever bored at church I would like to invite you to go to church with a pen and a paper. Why would God open the heavens and give you revelation if you're just going to forget it? When we have a pencil and a paper in our hands God knows that we are serious about learning :) you would never go to math class or biology class without a pen and a paper, so why wouldn't you do the same in church? Why do we go to church in the first place? To learn right? By bringing  a pen and paper you can recall the feelings and the promptings of the Spirit that you had at church, and take those home with you. 

I have been really struggling to keep my faith consistent. I feel like my body and the natural man really makes me forget my purpose here from time to time. At all times I honestly try to talk with everyone. I do the work. Wonderful. But honestly I feel like more than frequently I get turned on autopilot, no matter how hard I pray about charity I feel like I am sometimes speaking without feeling or sincerity and I really hate it. But I know that there is opposition in all things, my best today is not what my best will be tomorrow or what it was yesterday. And for that reason I am grateful for the atonement. I am grateful that Christ knows EXACTLY what I am feeling. He knows what it feels like to have such a serious calling because his calling was the most serious calling of all... atoning for all mankind. If I just remember that this is his work and not mine, that I am simply a servant in the field and I have no say in when the harvest will be... it takes a great weight off my shoulders. I really wish I could keep that perspective and remember that more often.

Yesterday our mission president came to our branch for church. I am coming to an end on my mission and have really been begging my Heavenly Father for more steam. I feel like I have never understood the words, "endure to the end" until now. It's really not hard enduring to the end, anyone can do it, but the quality of our enduring is really what counts. Runners sprint to the end, they don't slow down, and I want to be able to do the same. The mission president's wife said something that really struck me. She said, "before this life, we lived with God, and he had a plan for us to come to earth and to receive a body to become more like him. Right now we are learning how to use our bodies, how to control our bodies, we haven't always had a body." In that moment I realized something. How long did I live with God before this life? Probably a loooong time. How long have I had a body? 20 years. No wonder it is so hard to control this thing, to not get annoyed by small things or not to lash out when we're hungry or not to complain when things don't go write, to tame our natural man. We aren't used to it. We're still learning how to use our bodies. That thought really helped me to have more mercy on myself, and I know that God has infinite patience with us as well, and Christ's atonement will be there for us until we get it right :) 

I love my mission, always will :) it's full of the sweet and full of the bitter. But we are promised by a loving Heavenly Father that anything bitter, anything unfair or hard will be made right by the atonement. I know that is true.


Sister Brooklyn Wilson 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Bezi - Week - 10 "Russiaaa"

 July 20, 2015
All is well,

I will forever be amazing by how much can be done in a 24 hour period on a mission. And what happens in a week is insane. I feel like Nephi, saying that my journal cannot hold a hundred of the things that happen out here. 

We've still been doing loads of contacting, but honestly with the way I've been eating lately it's probably okay that we've been doing a lot of walking. The weather here has been HEAVEN lately. It's been constantly in the 20-25s (I think that's about 75 degrees F). This week while contacting we met a lot of people who gave us the magic phrase, "I'm interesting, and I want to know more." I have heard that so rarely on my mission that I literally feel overjoyed whenever I here it and it's hard not to freak people out with my excitement. 

This week early in the morning we stopped a girl who seemed to be in a hurry, her name was I. We told her who we were and she quickly asked us, "do you know where I can find a fortuneteller?" We asked her why, and she said that she wanted to know the future so that she could get revenge on her husband. They've been married 6 months and have been fighting constantly. We quickly responded that revenge will not help anything. Instead we opened up to Moroni 7 with her in the Book of Mormon and told her that charity and love is the only thing that will heal their relationship. Her heart was immediately softened. She took the Book of Mormon and came to church with us this Sunday :) She's a bit of a hooligan and took a few smoke breaks before and during church, but we'll work on that. I'm so excited to see the changes in this girl's life thanks to Christ. I love meeting people that the Lord has prepared for us! Another time she may have rejected the missionaries, but the Lord's time is so perfect, and he sent us to her in a time of need. 

Brooklyn in 2003 showing her Patriotism
This week I found a little hymn book that I bought in the MTC. I haven't sang hymns in english in foreverrrr and I miss it so much. So lately at night I've been locking myself in the bathroom for 10 minutes and just singing hymns to myself in my lovely native language. I have to admit that I almost cried when I sang, "America, America God shed his grace on thee...." (I'm pretty much asking to make myself homesick). Buuut... honestly I've never felt more at peace that I need to be on a mission at this time. I looove America, I love my homeland, but I am so grateful to be in Russia for right now. I know that as long as I am here, I am needed here. 

I love my companion so so much. I have never laughed more in my life I think. Last night we had a lesson with a less active member whose legs are too old to bring her to church. Sister Sotnikova spent half the lesson trying to convince this 75 year old woman to do online dating. She is the funniest person, and the nicest and the most selfless and most humble and patient. 

Also, sitting on the bus the other day, I turn around and see that my companion started a conversation with the largest man I have ever seen in Russia. He told her that he is a championship body builder, and then she asked for his autograph. He asked her what her name was and was probably expecting something like, "Katie" or "Lena" but she said, "Sister Sotnikova" she was laughing so hard when she thought about how absurd and nerdy that sounded later. Her next question was, "shouldn't you have body guards or something?" and in the cockiest voice he says, "за чем мне охраник" which in english would probably mean, "why would someone like me need a body guard?" ah... people. 

We are writing at the office in Samara right now and in 3 hours we will be on a train to penza to do exchanges with the sisters there :) it's a 5 hour train ride, yaaaay! So much better that marshootkas. I remember taking 5 hour bus rides in those last summer, such a nightmare. 

Love you all :) 

Sister Brooklyn Wilson 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Bezi - Week 9 - "Choose to Believe"

July 15, 2015
All is well!  

This is probably the longest letter I have and ever will write... so bear with me :) 

This week flew by. We had exchanges with the sisters in Avrora and it was so so fun :) I love going on splits to wherever sister Twede is because we always live like kings when we are with her. Every morning we were there we had crepes because her companion used to work in a crepe shop. We even had buttermilk syrup and nutella with bananas, just like we used to do at home! I really miss dad's breakfast foods. I really learned a lot from working with these wonderful sisters and it honestly just felt really good to get out of my area for a bit (I can't imagine how Sis. Sotnikova feels, she's been in this area since October!). 

It's been really fun speaking with my companion in english this week. Her vocabulary is still small so she uses the words that she already knows, so she says things like, "It's my turn to give the dishes a shower." She also always says, "amathing" instead of "amazing." It's so funny to hear a 28 year old woman talk like that :) I really love working with her. 

This week the Zone Leaders also asked Sister Sotnikova and I (she is the STL) to do a presentation on how to have more joy while contacting (the area presidency has asked that we spend a minimum of 3 hours contacting every day). We decided to concentrate on having happiness in the companionship, because honestly how fun is it to contact when your companion isn't happy. Sis Sotnikova was sooo so nervous all week and especially in the beginning, but after a few minutes the Spirit really took over and everything went great :) 

After training we had interviews with President Schwab. That man is a tank of knowledge. I also did some translating for Sister Sotnikova during the training and every single time President Schwab opened his mouth it would get very difficult to translate because the Spirit works through him so strongly, it was distracting haha :) I admitted to him that I have been experiencing feelings of hopelessness lately. I guess you could say that even though I've been on a mission for 14 months I still don't quite understand hope and faith. Our area has really been struggling and I haven't seen many consistent lessons or investigators since the day I've come here. I see a miracle like meeting someone wonderful and being sure that they will be baptized, and it turns out that we only meet with them once, and after that they fall off the face of the earth. 

First of all, he reminded me that faith is not based on past, present, or future statistics, faith in based on Jesus Christ. President Schwab then reminded me that the results to our faith can be affected by 3 things. First, insufficient faith. Second, the Lord's timing. And third, agency of others. Three thirds of our brothers and sisters chose Satan's plan, but that doesn't mean that God didn't have sufficient faith, it means that he respects our agency. That knowledge really brought me comfort. 

Usually I don't include passages from conference talks.... and usually whenever other people include such passages I skip over them (oops) but our mission president has asked us to read this talk and doing so helped me to better understand what exercising faith looks like and how the Savior acts as a light in my own life. It is called "Choosing to Believe" by Whitney L. Clayton. 

"Every day each of us faces a test. It is the test of our lifetimes: will we choose to believe in Him and allow the light of His gospel to grow within us, or will we refuse to believe and insist on traveling alone in the dark? Belief and testimony and faith are not passive principles. They do not just happen to us. Belief is something we choose—we hope for it, we work for it, and we sacrifice for it. We will not accidentally come to believe in the Savior and His gospel any more than we will accidentally pray or pay tithing. We actively choose to believe, just like we choose to keep other commandments."

Something else that I reeeeally really loved was from general conference one year ago from "Claim the Blessings of your Covenants" by Linda. S. Reeves. 

"Almost three years ago a devastating fire gutted the interior of the beloved, historic tabernacle in Provo, Utah. Its loss was deemed a great tragedy by both the community and Church members. Many wondered, “Why did the Lord let this happen? Surely He could have prevented the fire or stopped its destruction. 
Ten months later, during the October 2011 general conference, there was an audible gasp when President Thomas S. Monson announced that the nearly destroyed tabernacle was to become a holy temple—a house of the Lord! Suddenly we could see what the Lord had always known! He didn’t cause the fire, but He allowed the fire to strip away the interior. He saw the tabernacle as a magnificent temple—a permanent home for making sacred, eternal covenants. 
My dear sisters, the Lord allows us to be tried and tested, sometimes to our maximum capacity. We have seen the lives of loved ones—and maybe our own—figuratively burned to the ground and have wondered why a loving and caring Heavenly Father would allow such things to happen. But He does not leave us in the ashes; He stands with open arms, eagerly inviting us to come to Him. He is building our lives into magnificent temples where His Spirit can dwell eternally. 
In Doctrine and Covenants 58:3–4, the Lord tells us: 
'Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation. 
For after much tribulation come the blessings. Wherefore the day cometh that ye shall be crowned with much glory.' 
The Lord has a plan for each of our lives. Nothing that happens is a shock or a surprise to Him. He is all-knowing and all-loving. He is eager to help us, to comfort us, and to ease our pain as we rely on the power of the Atonement and honor our covenants. The trials and tribulation that we experience may be the very things that guide us to come unto Him and cling to our covenants so that we might return to His presence and receive all that the Father hath."

I really don't understand God's plan. Almost 100% of the time I don't understand why things are going "wrong" until after the trial is over and I see that actually everything was going right, because it was exactly what God wanted for me. I am so grateful for hard times. I am grateful for this hard mission. Just like the pioneers, who experienced starvation, disease, and death... I wouldn't trade my hard times for good times, because during those times are the times that I come to know my Loving Heavenly Father. 


Sister Wilson