Friday, May 20, 2016

2 down, 1 to go!!!

Hi Everyone,
The MTC is fabulous. I love both my teachers, my district, and especially my companion. It's just been so great! Wednesday we welcomed our new district in our Zone and watched all the newbies walk around with their little dork dots on their tags. Oh the memories of when I was them haha. just one week ago lol. Thursday and Friday Sister Bair was really sick. So on Thursday I stayed in the room with her all day and I got to study the whole time (yes! we don't have much time to do personal study here in the MTC, so I was grateful for that time) And then Friday She stayed in sick bay all day and I was companions with the other sisters in our district.
Sundays are great because it is still so spiritual, but it is spiritual and you learn a lot without sitting in a classroom all day. Our Branch president was released, so we had the President of the MTC there in Sacrament meeting and everything! It was kinda a big deal. And the way that talks work in the MTC is that everyone write a talk on a given topic, and then you will find out if you are giving it when it is announced as part of the agenda at the pulpit! I wrote a fantastic talk I thought, so I was sorta sad when they didn't call my name haha
Also, our branch requires us to go to choir, which is great because I don't think that Sister Bair would go with me if it wasn't :) So I get to participate in the wonderful MTC choir and get to sing in Tuesday Devotionals, when you never know who's speaking and it is usually a general authority! Last week we got to hear form Sister Linda K. Burton, General Relief Society President and her Husband. So cool!
I can't get pictures to send quite yet, but when I figure out how to send them, I will be sending a whole bunch because I have made lot's of memories here :)
Oh and fun fact, missionaries here play Four square and it's basically the best ever. I've gotten really good at it and it gets really intense with some of the Elders most of the time! I look forward to an hour of it every day for exercise time :)
Well, one more week to go and then I am off to Vegas! Don't know if I'm ready or not, but here I go!\
Love you all.
Sister Brown
P.S. Don't hesitate to email me or write me just because you don't think I'll have time to read it, because I want nothing more than to hear from you! I love getting snail mail in general, and emails from people I don't expect :)

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Greetings from the Provo MTC!

I've only been here little under a week and I have fallen in LOVE with this place!! I'm so excited that I get to spend 3 weeks here instead of the expected 12 days. That's what it was that Kylie and Michael got here in the MTC, but they changed it in March and I'm so glad they did!! I love it here, even though it is really easy to get cabin fever in your little classroom. Because you are in there all. day.
When I first got here we went right into classes and preparation. they gathered all the newbs up and as a group, we taught 3 different investigators. Holy crap did I just feel so inadequate.
My companion is absolutely amazing!!!!! Her name is Sister Bair, so our couple name is the Brown Bair :)  She is just more evidence that God knows me so well and that he is in every little part of my life. She is everything I would ever need, and I didn't even realize that I needed what she gives me! But she is the BIGGEST example to me. I've never had someone that I look up to sooo much. She is the type of missionary I want to be. Confident, obedient, beautiful, speaks her mind, organized, on time, and just so spiritual and amazing. I love her to pieces, and we have already gone through so much together. But I'm serious. She is exactly what I needed here at the MTC and I think the only person who could handle every side of me. She is so patient and just amazing!!!
My district consists of another Sister companionship, Sister Sessions  and Sister Hudson.  We 4 share a room and they are all wonderful and so fun :) We also have 3 other Elder Companionships, and they are super great. We spend class together aaaalllll day, so we see a lot of each other.
Speaking of class, I have learned soooo much!!!! It is crazy that I can retain any of it, but somehow I am really learning. It's hard, to be a missionary I guess, but I know it will be so worth it. My branch President here says to remember not to worry the fun out of your mission :)
On Friday Sister Bair woke up feeling really sick, so while she slept till 9, I got a chance to just stay in the room and study what I wanted. It was really nice! I need that kind of time again. Everything here is so scheduled!! Even our P-day is scheduled! well this is free time and Laundry, but 12:30 we get to go to the temple and I'm super excited to go with my District :)
Oh and here at the MTC they have a choir that practives twice each week, and I really wanted to do it, but Sister Bair wasn't that interested. But lucky for her, our Branch president basically requires it so I get to go without me feeling like I'm the one dragging Sister Bair around :)
On Sunday Sister Bair and I got called to be Sister Training Leaders for our Zone! It's a lot of responsibility because now I have to worry about all the sisters instead of just myself, but it will be really good for me. Saturday night we watched a talk given by Elder Bednar at the MTC called "Character of Christ" and it seriously was the best thing ever. The most notes I have taken from a talk ever. He really talked about tuning outward instead of inward and not being selfish. Yes the one convert I should come home with having is me, but I'm not trying to do that. This mission has nothing to do with me and everything to do with My father in Heaven. So being an STL will help me turn to help others instead of being concerned about myself!
Really, the MTC is just a place to tear you down and let you realize that you know and can do absolutely nothing. Because you have to rely on the Lord for everything and you can't do anything without his help, because this is his work, not mine.
I have to keep glancing at my name tag because I still cannot believe that I'm a missionary.
Man I really need to write down bullet point or something, because I forget what I want to say and now I'm about out of time! Oh well I have 18 months to perfect this whole emailing thing.
Please send me snail mail! I know it's a little old school, but I can spend more time reading and replying on pdays to your letters rather than emails.
Lots of love!!
Sister Brown

Monday, May 2, 2016

The Mission Decision

This was not a simple decision. 
You might think it would be.
It's a yes or no question for crying out loud!

Are you going on a mission, yes or no?
More like, are you going to set your school back a year and a half, yes or no?
Are you going to sacrifice talking to friends and family for a year and a half, yes or no?
Are you going to give up listening to and belting Broadway show tunes for a year and a half, yes or no? 
Are you going to sacrifice all these worldly things so that you can drown yourself in the Lord's work and gain a stronger testimony of the gospel as you share this wonderful gospel to other, yes or no?

It's a loaded question, and laying it out like that might seem like it would be an obvious decision. I didn't want to give up any of that. I felt selfish, but I had a life and a plan and was planning on sticking to it.

But of course, the Lord had a different plan for me and as always, it's way better than anything I could think up and do myself,

So let's start from the very beginning. (a very good place to start, mind you)
I graduated from Grayson High School May of 2015 and was ready to start a new chapter in my life and head off to college, but first I had to conquer the summer before that when I had absolutely nothing to do. I had a job, but that only took part of every day. I still had a lot of time on my hands. So naturally I surfed the internet and browsed Facebook when I stumbled upon something very much like what you're reading right now.

An old friend posted on Facebook her first blog entry to her mission blog and it explained why she decided to go on a mission. During that post, she explained how she was wanting to audition for the Young Performing Mission in Nauvoo, Illinois. You're set apart as a missionary, you still wear a name tag, but you wear it for only 4 months and during that time you sing, dance, act, and entertain and perform for the tourists visiting Nauvoo, a historical site for members of the church. Well, she talked about how she thought about it but eventually filled out papers for a real mission instead of auditioning. I don't even think I read the rest of her post! I was just focused on understanding that there as such a thing and I Was going to audition for it and go on that mission no matter what it took. So with all my free time I dedicated it to preparing for my audition. This is in May, when the YPM's go out and start their mission, so the auditions for the next round of missionaries didn't open until September. So I had plenty of time to prepare. I went through so many different solo songs, looking for just the right ones to audition with. Once I had figured out what I wanted to sing and perform, I dedicated my time to perfecting and making sure it showcased my talents perfectly. I am not kidding when I say I was basically obsessed over this thing. I mean, by the time the missionaries came home in August, I was basically stalking them on Facebook because I had studied their fabulous auditions over and over again and wanted tips on my own performance to see if I even had a chance. Like I said. Obsessed. (Please don't think I'm a creeper Sean and Kaitlyn! I really appreciated all the feedback that you gave me, a complete stranger!)

So I went off to school at Brigham Young University-Idaho in Rexburg, Idaho and started my degree in Elementary Education. I wasn't going to hear the results of the audition until the end of November, when the auditions closed. So I went off to school having it sent off and waited patiently.
Being a part of a student ward, (wards are congregations of the Mormon church which were made up of about 130 students up at BYU-I each, with just over 100 wards for normal student housing alone) I was bound to have a calling, or a volunteer position, in the ward because they liked to make every student feel wanted and they made sure every student had a calling. About the second or third week of school, I was called as a ward missionary. Well it was Rexburg. I went to BYU-Idaho. What is a ward missionary going to do in a place where absolutely everyone is Mormon? So it really didn't mean anything besides the fact that I had a title, and I guess I had an obligation to be the best example and missionary I could be to the members that surrounded me.

But that night I was called I really got to thinking. After I got the news, I had taken my stuff to the Library so that I could finish my homework in a quiet place with little distractions. I hadn't read my scriptures earlier that day so I had brought them to read before I did my work. I don't remember what I was reading or even if it had any impact on what I felt. But all I really remember was a feeling that I can only describe as peaceful yet strong. It was then accompanied by a simple yet straightforward thought. I was going to serve a mission.

Right after, I as like. "Yeah! Of course I'm gunna serve a mission! I'm going to get accepted to be a YPM in Nauvoo and it's going to be the best mission ever." But then I thought about it and thought maybe it meant something more. But I did not like it. I did not want to go! It seemed mainstream at the time, everyone expected me to, and I wanted to do everything and anything but that. But I came to the realization that that particular thought in the library wasn't one of my own, and either I was going to serve a mission or I was supposed to think that I was. That night, I was excited. I had received a sort of revelation and I wanted to share it. I told my roommates, my sister, my parents, and I was just so ready.

Weeks went by, and that feeling went away. But all these people I had anxiously told were checking up on me, constantly asking when I was going to turn in my papers and such. It annoyed me. What if I didn't want to go? What if that thought in the Library was my own imagination or it was meant as a confirmation that I was going to get into Nauvoo? My demeanor had changed and I hated thinking about it. I didn't want to go on a mission unless it was the Young Performing Mission in Nauvoo. But then the email came.

I hadn't been chosen as a finalist for Nauvoo. So that wasn't my mission. But I didn't want to serve any other mission. At all. And then I thought why.
Why didn't I?
It was mainstream.
I wanted to start a family.
I like my theater and pop music.
People say it's hard.
That's what people expected me to do. 

They were all stupid worldly reasons.

But it didn't change the fact that I didn't want to go. I talked to my roommate about it, who was a return missionary herself. She told me that she was the same way. She even had her call and she wanted to not go. But she did. And she told me she didn't regret it one bit. So I chatted with her on the couch one night towards the end of the semester and told her how I felt. I didn't want to go, but I couldn't shake that feeling and thought I had that night at the library. I kept saying that I didn't want to. And that I didn't know what to do. But then she simply said, "Jessica, I think you know the answer already." and I simply replied, "But I don't want to."

But I knew it was something I needed to do.

So I went home for Christmas and told my parents that I thought about it and that I really meant it now. So as soon as I got back to Rexburg, I started my papers. AS soon as I started them, there was a change. I could see so many different blessings in my life. My mom said I looked and sounded just so happy. And then I realized that I was genuinely excited.

I expected to get my papers done super fast and then get my call by February. Well of course it didn't work out that way because Heavenly Father's timing is perfect and I was doing it at the wrong time. It took a little bit for me to get my papers out, I finished them, and then thought I had submitted them right away, which was the weekend of Valentine’s day.

Notice how I said "thought" I submitted them.

I waited. And waited. And walked to the mailbox every day waiting to see a big white envelope in my tiny little apartment mailbox. He said it would take approximately 2 weeks and 2 days.
It was 2 1/2 weeks.
3 weeks
4 weeks
It was driving me CRAZY!!!!!!!

Imagine watching the Powerball lottery, hoping and hoping that your numbers were going to be called, but in reality, you never even bought a ticket!! That's how I felt after realizing that I was going to the mailbox every day waiting for an envelope that was never going to get there, because my stake president had never even submitted my papers. There was a shuffle and out stake presidency had changed, and he forgot, and the new one had no idea I even had papers that needed to be submitted.
So I finally got them actually submitted and it came 6 weeks after the day I thought I had actually submitted the.

It came March 28th and I opened it that night.

Dear Sister Brown:

You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the Nevada Las Vegas West Mission. It is anticipated that you will serve for a period of 18 months. 

You should report to the Provo Missionary Training Center on Wednesday, May 4, 2016. You will prepare to preach the gospel in the English Language. Your assignment may be modified according to the needs of the mission president.

To prepare me for this moment, I asked a lot of questions to return missionaries. They also said one common thing. They were called to a place they never had thought of before but as soon as they read it they knew it was exactly where they were supposed to be. 

There was no way I was going to get called to someplace I hadn't thought of before! Waiting that long gives a girl time to think, and I thought of every state, every country, every possibility. I was going to someplace foreign that I hadn't even heard of, because that's the only thing that I "hadn't thought of." 

But never did I ever think that I Was going to be called to the same exact mission that my brother served in. It did not cross my mind even once. But as soon as I read those words, I started crying and instantly knew that this was a calling from God and Nevada is the place where I am supposed to be. 

It's crazy wonderful how God works. He is in every single little aspect of your life and knows you way better than you know yourself. He doesn't make mistakes, his timing is perfect, and everything happens for a reason. 

I don't know why my papers were lost in the shuffle, but I know that if they were supposed to be sent, they would have been sent, I don't know why I was supposed to wait, but I know I waited for a reason.

God knows me better than myself, Maybe it was better for me to hurry and get ready in 5 weeks rather than having 3 months to prepare.
Who knows?
Only God.

I know that I am off on this wonderful, scary, unpredictable journey for a reason. Heavenly Father has a plan for me and has helped me get to this point in my life. This Church is the best thing that has every happened in my life and has made me the person I am. I am so excited to share the wonderful message of this amazing gospel to the people of Las Vegas and hopefully show people how it has changed my life and that it can change theirs too. 

I know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet called of God and that he translated the gold plates into the Book of Mormon that we are blessed with today. This wonderful book speaks the truth and gives amazing counsel for us today. 

I know that God has called a prophet to lead and guide us today, just like Moses, Noah, and Peter did in their times, and his name is Thomas S. Monson. 

I cannot wait to share my testimony with the people of Nevada, and hopefully you will able to see my journey here on this blog. I will not be allowed to post here myself, but I will send a mass email about my week to people who wish to receive it, and then my mom will post it here for everyone else to read.

Thanks for bearing through my long shpeal and I hope you enjoyed my little story. 
Well, see all y’all in 18 months!

Sister Brown :)