Thursday, February 20, 2014

Transfer Week!

November 20, 2013

It has been a long week. It is transfer week and tomorrow I will be back at the Belmont chapel. The results of T-texts.... (drum roll) Sister States is going to be going to Rhode Island (or for those of you who follow Studio C, " Rhooooode Iiiiiiislaaaaaand!!!"). And coming to Merrimack to join me is, Sister Brown! What were the chances of that?!?!  She also is an Hermana (called to speak Spanish) so I will have someone to practice with. I had some time during language study yesterday so I made a bunch of post it notes with the spanish names of things and I put them up all around the house. I will have to take a picture of the little salmon signs. They have only been up for an evening but I have picked up on a few words already. This is going to be good!
Karee and Sister States

The Pearsons, Sis States, and Karee

Sis States baking at the Robinsons

Karee, Sis States, and Sis Robinson
We went on splits(mom note: going on splits is when one missionary goes with another member and the other missionary goes with another member also and they go visit) with Myklyn and Tabitha on Tuesday. Myklyn and I went to a few young women's houses, but none of them were actually home. We went to a home thinking it was the home of a less-active, we made sure to have a restoration pamphlet just in case they had moved, but as it turns out we went to the wrong address so we will have to look again.
Myklyn, Karee, Sis States, and Tabitha

Karee without the big glasses
The highlight of the week was definitely Zone Conference! We left a little later than we had planned and had to make a stop at the church to print off a talk that we should have printed off earlier. Plus there was traffic! So on the ride up I was feeling a little like one of the five foolish virgins, who wasn't ready when the bridegroom came.
We ended up getting there before it started and then one of the speakers (Sister Nielson) told an old fable about an ant and a grasshopper. It was interesting because she shared a personal story about how they are usually running late and how she feels like she is the one always forgetting things. It was good to hear not only that I am not the only one, but that it's ok. She told us that she is more like the grasshopper that is a little crazy, likes to have fun (sing and dance) and a little unorganized, but that her husband is more like an ant, organized prepared and ready for the winter (or whatever hardships come).

 But that they work together and they use each others strengths and try to strengthen their weaknesses. It is a team! I really liked that. Plus I felt a little better about being running a little behind.
Sister Packard was the first speaker and spoke on the first principle of the Gospel, Faith. She shared a really good point that faith allows us to see others like they can become, including ourselves. Then acting on that faith is what allows us to change. Change was actually what President Packard spoke about. Well actually repentance, but he broke it done to the root words and to the original meaning to help us to better understand what it means to repent. The Old Testament was originally written Hebrew and the word that they used was Shub, which means: to turn back, to turn to, to return. The New Testament was written in Greek and the word that was used was Metanoeo. Metanoeo has a few words to break down.Metanoeo It is a compound word Meta and noeo. "The word metaneoeo” means a change of mind, thought, knowledge, spirit and breath that is so powerful that it changes our very way of life. Metanoeo means a person is becoming like the Lord." It then becomes a word of hope. We repent so we can change to become more like God.                                                         
Elder Nielson
 talked about how we are most happy when we are being obedient. Not just obedient because we have to but because we want to be. He talked about different covenants that we make and the promises that God gives to us. He mentioned that God did not send us here to Earth to flat line or to simply be satisfied with where we currently are. He wants us to keep progressing and moving to a better us.
We also heard from the four stake presidents in the zone. I found out that there was a child who was run over along with the mother in the Worcester area. He spoke about how it was an opportunity for the missionaries in the area to reach out in a different way.

A poem that was shared:
It takes broken clouds to make rain.
Broken ground to make grain
Broken grain to make bread
Broken bread to always remember Him.
A broken Savior to make a perfect atonement,
and a broken heart to accept Him.
(I believe that was by Elder Holland and the last two lines by Sister Nielson).

We went visiting teaching to a few women in the ward, but we did it in different ways. We helped one sister with her freezer meals while we talked to her about her life. And then we went to another sister's house to help her rake leaves. It was so much fun to visit in different ways.
The holidays are just around the corner and so people are getting busy, but it is so cool to see that they are still willing to open their hearts and their homes to the missionaries. We sure have a lot to be thankful for this coming week!
Happy Thanksgiving!
I love you all!
Love Hermana K. Brown

Sunday, February 16, 2014

I feel at home in Boston!

November 11, 2013

It was crazy how much I felt at home when I went back to Boston. I JUST LOVE IT THERE! 
Those of you who know "Helping Hand" shirts, Karee passed some youth who were picking up trash in Cambridge on their way to Boston

some pictures of Cambridge, MA

more pics of Cambridge

love the trees creating a canopy over the street

Karee and Sis States eating D'Andgelos (a great place for sandwiches)

being silly

They support the Red Sox!

Monday night we had dinner and FHE at the Parker home. They are the most talented, loving, devoted, amazing family! There are twelve children (two are serving missions right now) all of which have been home schooled. They are all very polite and well mannered and adorable! They have such good family home evenings involving all of the children (can you imagine?). I am not sure if I want to have that many children, but I sure hope I can teach them to be well-mannered and loving as these cute children. We also met with Sister Jarnagin to talk to her about her plans for the Young women and how we can best help her. (Did you hear about how there isn't going to be a different conference for the young women and relief society?)
Karee, you look like a natural!

Karee learned how to play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

One of the Parker kids who taught Karee how to play

Tuesday I was home. Home in Boston! It took a little longer than we expected as far as traffic and we had to make a few u-turns. Seeing Eridania and Sister Baez (with Brydon) was just what I needed! It surprised me how quickly I could understand them again. So far Eridania isn't any closer to making covenants through baptism, but some day she says she will. She showed me that she was using the markers that I send her and that she put the picture of me and her up on her mirror with the other pictures of her family. It was so sweet. Sister Baez was so happy and surprised to see me. She was busy but took a few minutes to make sure we had some orange juice and some company. She was just so happy and beautiful!
Karee and Endriana back in Boston

Karee, Endriana, and Sis Miller(Karee's old companion)

Karee, Sis Baez and Brydon

Wednesday we had a Relief Society get to know you. The new relief society presidency did a wonderful job. There were tables set up where the sisters could put things that represented or described themselves, there was a speed friend-shipping game, and there were a lot of pumpkiny yummy treats!

Something really interesting happened to us the other day... we had the cops called on us. Sorta. We were just going down the list of people that are less-active so that we can see if they want us to come visit. One of these ladys has been visited multiple times through the years and always tells the missionaries that she is not interested. The problem is that the only one that can officially take her off the ward list is herself and the bishop. We told her this, and he is helping her with that process now, but not before she called the police to complain. I was actually on splits with the sister training leaders in Billricka when the Bishop's wife and the mission office both called to tell us to not go back (as if we were going to go after she told us she wasn't interested).
Billerica is a really nice area! They have a really nice apartment (with an elevator and everything). We started out the day with some service of raking leaves with the elders there. It was a really nice morning temperature wise but then it started to rain. We kept going until the whole backyard was all raked up. It got a little messy, but it was fun. The rest of the day we were stopping by less-actives to invite them to the thanksgiving dinner. When we got back together we met up with the Nashua sisters for another  split. They were going to teach a Hispanic family named the Guerreros. It was a  lot of fun to see the family get excited as their father prepares to be baptized. The wife was baptized before the twins were born which was about 15 years ago. So they have been waiting a while. That is something really special about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it is all in our own timing to accept it and He is always standing there with open arms to receive us. 

Friday we got an early start and taught a woman named Suyhen. She was a little confused about the Book of Mormon, but we helped her to understand that it, like the Bible, was written by prophets. That it contains a history of the people on the American continent and that it contains prophecies of Christ's coming. Then we went to district meeting with our district. Then we went with Sister Dodge (the relief society president) to visit a few sisters in the Merrimack area. After Sister States and I did a couple stopby's. We happened to pass by the Hensch family, who honked at us. We went over to say hi and ended up staying at their house to help them make some quiche for a family that was sick. They are such a fun family and made sure we had some warm hot chocolate before we left. (which is funny because we were talking about stopping at a gas station to get some... it was cold). Have you ever had BBQ pizza? I can now say that I have. And I am a fan! It was so yummy!

Saturday was an even earlier start. We woke up at 5:30 and left by 6 so that we could get to the Cambridge chapel by 8...we were early. It didn't take that long. But it was alright because we were able to get some studying in. Then came the actual thing. There are some really talented sisters in this mission can I just say. They can sing, play piano, guitar, violin and viola, just to name a few. President Packard talked about holy places along with the youth theme for the year. It was really interesting and enlightening. He shared the story of Joseph who was sold into Egypt, of how he went through a lot and was still able to stand in holy places. Then he went on to talk about how we can and should do the same. His daughter sang and played a song that I really like about how sometimes blessing are in disguise. It is so true and actually something I was able to share with a family at their family home evening. Heavenly Father knows us and He knows how we can learn best. Sometimes we have to learn through trials and through pain. But Heavenly Father is always looking out for us and He loves us.
The sister missionaries singing at a youth conference

Sis Miller with Jen

Karee with Jen

Karee with the Young Women in Boston (she loved being with them!)

Karee with Alicia

Karee with McKinzie

one of the sister missionaries and Karee

Karee and Sis Garcia(she has gotten a pic with her everytime they meet for conferences)

more serious pose this time

Karee and Sis Allen

Karee and Sis Allen's mom

Later on Saturday we went and sang to Sister Janeke, an elderly woman. We just sang a few hymns but she said that it made her whole day, whole week and even her whole month. She is so sweet! She said that she wishes everyone in the whole nursing home could hear us. We want to go back and carol when it gets closer to Christmas. 

We also went caroling (singing songs of gratitude and thanks) to Andy and Danielle. They absolutely loved the hymns and even teared up a bit. Which is really a good thing because we feel like the visits with them haven't been as effective lately. Now they have invited us to come over to eat dinner with them on Friday. We will probably be singing some more hymns. Music has such a wonderful way of inviting the Spirit.

A few updates: It is getting colder here and I believe we are expecting snow some time this coming week. 
Isabel got her personal progress medallion.
Kamber is going to have her baby soon!

Also, I heard about the hurricane that hit the Phillipines (actually heard about it mentioned first in a prayer that I was translating during sacrament meeting). Those people will be in my prayers here. 

I love you all!


Sister Brown
PS- We didn't get to watch the game or even watch the parade, but we do know that we WON THE WORLD SERIES!!(mom note: We asked Karee if she tells people she is from Missouri and her response was "
Hahah yea I do! I like the red sox more. The people here are nice to the cardinals, nice to everyone unless you like the yankees"

A week in the life as a missionary

November 4, 2013

Funny thing during Sacrament meeting. The two grandparents who only speak Spanish got up to bare their testimonies. So I got to take a break from translating to Spanish for those two testimonies, but right after them came a member who served his mission in Brazil (Brother Jarnagin) He started to bare his testimony in Portuguese. So I started translating into the headset microphone what he was saying, but I translated into English. I didn't realize until he switched over to English. Talk about embarrassing! They probably got a good laugh out of that one.
Monday evening Sister States and I took a good look and prayerfully discussed those we have been teaching. Non of which seem to want to make changes in their lives or really do anything that we leave with them to do. It looks like we are going to be transferring a lot of the work of fellow shipping over to the members. We have a new plan for getting the members excited for missionary work and also to help us become better teachers. This idea was inspired by our sister training leaders, but we are tweaking it a little. We have chosen a few families in the ward (made up of the auxiliary leaders, families with children serving missions, and families that have just moved in recently) to teach what we are calling practice lessons. They are going to be acting like a non-member friend that they have or will make up their own characters. We then go in a missionaries and treat them like they are these friends. The idea is that we are getting practice teaching the lessons according to peoples' needs and working together as a companionship. We are getting in to these peoples' homes and they are getting to be more and more comfortable with us. They are also feeling the spirit and they are receiving some revelation about how they can start working with these non-member friends and family members that they have. The idea is that they will get to the point with these friends that they can introduce them to the missionaries and the members and missionaries can work together to fellowship and teach these people. In quoting the council given to us by our prophet when he said, “Now is the time for members and missionaries to come together … [and] labor in the Lord’s vineyard to bring souls unto Him. He has prepared the means for us to share the gospel in a multitude of ways, and He will assist us in our labors if we will act in faith to fulfill His work” (“Faith in the Work of Salvation” [address given at a special broadcast, June 23, 2013];

So far we have had two such practice meetings and both of them were very successful. The first one Sister Cotter was able to tell us more about the friend and some of the concerns that she has and some of the questions she has about how to take the next step. In our other practice lesson we had the help of a six year old girl, (one of the Hogan's daughter) as we taught her 9 year old brother who was acting as Jameson. It was so neat to watch as the nine year old would ask very good deep questions and the six year old would respond calmly and with perfect clarity.  She even threw in some personal experiences and some promised blessings as she was testifying. I love learning from the young children because they do keep it simple and they do have such great faith. Lately Sister States and I have been able to work with the primary children as they write their parts for the primary program. Many of them are so very prepared to serve missions right now. They are actively seeking for opportunities to share the Gospel with their friends and those around them because they know how it will make them happy. 

Some cute things that were said, "Your Heavenly Father loves you so much. More than your mom and your dad. More than two times as much as your mom and two times as much as your dad, together. And even times ten! He just loves you so much!" 
"I know that you can ask Heavenly Father and you will get an answer. You can know"
After the lesson we sat and talked with the family over some delicious muffins. The little girl came back with a plastic bag full of little toys and odds and ends. "These are for you! I know it's not a lot and it probably isn't the coolest things that you have ever gotten. But I just have so much stuff I have to just give it away some times." When Sister States said that it was special  the girl replied, "no, teaching Jameson was!" It is so true, that taking someone figuratively by the hand to bring them closer to Jesus Christ, brings so much happiness. It is truly a special experience and I am so lucky to have the opportunity to do it everyday all the time.

We did have the opportunity to rake leaves at the Jarnagin house. A very large pile! Come to find out they usually use a big tarp and just drag it to the forest behind their house. Hopefully they will be able to get that mountainous pile moved. They did take us to dinner at Panera Wednesday night and we had a really cool experience where Brother Jarnagin talked to one of the ladys about coming to church. She was from Brazil so he loved talking to her in Portuguese. They are planning to invite a few of their Lowell friends over with her. But being able to see their dad share the Gospel was really exciting for the Jarnagin children. 

Thursday was a bit rainy. We were able to meet only with a few people. Halloween is a big thing to some of these people. Amhurst seemed to really go all out. I also heard that Salem, Mass. is a really cool place to go for Halloween. As for us missionaries, we had to be home by six. Sister States and I read scriptures and marked them. I also made some pumpkin spice cookies that Kamber sent me. Then we had some fun with the mustaches that my family sent us. 

Love the glasses. They add to the mustache!

The whole apartment of sister missionaries

Sis States and Karee

got some lovely unibrows going on

more mustache fun!

got quite the comb over going on there!

We went to visit a lady in the ward who is in a nursing home. She has a lot of pain and seems to be suffering from memory loss. But she is still a great missionary and always looking for opportunities to share her beliefs. She told us that not many people get as many visitors as she does because of the church. We decided to sing her a few hymns. She absolutely loved it! Sister States is really great at harmonizing. Luckily she does know how to sing, otherwise Sister Janacke wouldn't have enjoyed it as much as she did. She wants us to come back every week and I think we might stop by a few other rooms to cheer some sad lonely people. 

This Sunday there were a lot of people at church, including a few less-active people that we happened to visit this week. It is so neat to see some one come back after so long. And watch them as they renew their covenants that they have made. It is definitely a special thing. I feel such a great love for these people. We all have problems and all have things that are stopping us from being better, but the grace of Christ is sufficient for all. I love that. 

That is about it for today. Tomorrow we will be going to Boston for a musical practice (I told you Sister States can sing!) Luckily for me Sister Miller who is serving there now set up an appointment to meet with Eridania. I am so excited!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

(mom note: still working on catching up. Making progress!)

October 28, 2013
                         HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Karee (October 26)

I still feel like I am trying to find my way around. Andy and Daneille, an older couple and friends of the missionaries, and a few ward members, gave us a gps the second day that I was here. We use it everyday! This part of New Hampshire is tree covered and the streets are twisty and turny. They all pretty much look the same, so I am very grateful.
Remember Martica? She is Brother Gomez's daughter, Ashley's mother? Well, she got baptized  yesterday! I wasn't able to go, but the Boston sisters texted us and let us know that it was a beautiful experience and that she was beaming after. I really wish I could have been there and can't wait to meet up with her after my mission (when I am fluent and can actually hold a normal conversation). She has really come a long way and I know that this is going to bless her family so much! I am so happy for her!
We had a really cool family home evening with the Petrie family Monday evening (mom you would like it here, this is just one of many families here in the area that homeschool). Sister Petrie was just released from being the Young Women's president and is now teaching Sunday school. There are five children  in the family, but only three are home now. They have a son on a mission right now and they are definitely trying to do their share of missionary work. It got Sister States and I thinking about what kind of things our families are doing back home. For family home evening, the Petries reevaluated their family missionary plan, occasionally asking us for some advise. They set some new goals and some ways to measure them. One of the goals that they have set is to pray each morning for an opportunity to serve someone. I found this one really interesting because sometimes we just look throughout the day for these opportunities, but if we were really serious about wanting to serve, then we would ask for some help from some one that could really help. This family is really trying to be in the missionary mindset and have really been trying to make it a part of their daily life. We showed them the glass cup with the aqua beads to show them that all the things that they have to do in their busy lives will be made easy because if you are concisely thinking of ways to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ you are thinking about Him often, and your life begins to be centered on Him.
Remember Rebecca? The little eight year old? (I hope I talked about her earlier). Her parents wanted the missionaries to teach her a few of the preach my gospel lessons before she got baptized so that she could really know what she was doing. It was such a sweet experience and what we realized is that she should be teaching us. So this week we went over and she taught us all about Joseph Smith and the Restoration. She was so happy and energetic about telling us all that she knew. She told us all about the Book of Mormon in a 2 minute summery. She quoted James 1:5 in her own words, "Ye who want to know something, ask Christ." She has such a strong faith and a desire to do what is right. I feel like a lot of children are like Rebecca. Another little girl in the ward told us about her missionary experience. "I invited a friend (Celia) to church once. She started to like it. She goes to activity day girls and she thinks it’s fun so she’s always going to come. We always play together because she’s lonely. I feel happy and I feel the Spirit." I met this little friend and she has been going to church, has a part in the upcoming primary play and is so happy to be coming. It is really amazing how these children see that they have something important and the more they share it the stronger their testimony becomes.
We finally had our first dinner/lunch with a Hispanic family since being here. Even though a lot of the Hispanic food is the same (rice and beans and chicken) I miss having it. I miss being able to speak Spanish. The family we ate with didn't speak to us in Spanish, but I made sure to say the prayer in their own language. This family is a really big family, five brothers who have all married and had children of their own. One family has two children out on missions right now! All of them, who are old enough to have served did serve. We are going to have a few of these returned missionaries come out with us. We actually took one of them out with us to find a few less active members. We still need to work on our planning, but we are starting to get more opportunities to take young women out with us.
We don't do very much tracting(this is when missionaries go door to door), but one day while we were looking for some less-active families, we talked to a few people. One of them was Larry, a pastor of a near by church. We had stopped to look at our map and try to see where we were going. As we were pulling away I noticed that he had a "Jesus" licence plate hanging by his mailbox. I thought, "Hey, he believes in Jesus Christ, just like us. I wouldn't see any reason why anyone who believes in Jesus Christ wouldn't look for ways to strengthen their faith in Him." We stopped and he actually came to us to see if we needed help. (We probably do look lost a lot of the time). We asked him about what he believes and we offered him a Finding Faith in Jesus Christ DVD. He said that he would for sure take a look at the DVD and possibly pass it on. We are going to call him and follow up (yes, he gave us his number). We might have found someone to teach!
Saturday was a bit out of the ordinary, day. The sisters made sure I had a special day, which was very nice of them. We went over to the Theobalds for a "Birthday Breakfast" which was very delicious! The Theobald family has five little children (also homeschooled) all under the age of 8. 
Karee with the Theobald family for a Birthday breakfast!

cute family!
They were all really excited to have a party and had a lot of questions. They had a special song to sing to me. It was really cute... but a lot of attention, I had no idea what to do with myself.  The people here are so nice! They are always asking what we need and how they can help us. Last night we were at a members house who had given the sisters before us a bunch of silverware for the apartment that we now live in. And once again they asked us what we needed, some how they found out that we didn't have a ice scraper for the car... we do now. I have asked a few families why they are so nice. It just so happened that each of these families have a son or daughter on a mission and their response is almost identical each time. "I pray each night that there are people where my missionary is serving that is taking care of them, so I need to be the one to answer the prayers of your parents." It is really neat and I feel so blessed to be served and watched out for in this way. I don't hardly feel deserving of it, but I am grateful.
Also on Saturday, Sister States and I were planning to go rake leaves at a member's home, but when we got there she said it was already done. We looked for yards to rake as we drove around. We found one, but she wanted to keep the leaves for compost. She said we could go to her father's house, but when we went to his house, he told us that he didn't want us to do it until they all fell. We ended up finding a random house and raking the yard. Hoping that we could fit all the leaves in the bags that Sister Petrie gave us. Surprisingly we were able to fit all but a medium size pile into just six bags. Some how we fit the bags into the back of our small car (a little bit of bad planning on our part) and then we had to drive around with them for the rest of the evening.
Karee raking leaves for others for her birthday!

Hermana States enjoying raking leaves

Hermana States loading leaves into the car after raking earlier in the day!

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Karee smuggling leaves into their trunk in the dark of the night
 But what better birthday could we have then to serve all day, to fill both physical needs and spiritual needs. And thanks to some loving family, friends and companions, I had quite the enjoyable day.
Karee's sister, Kamber sent this banner to Hermana States to put up for Karee's birthday!

Mrs. Guzman made a cake for Karee for her birthday-yummy coconut

fun ice cream that looked like watermelon
Karee opening gifts from home for her birthday

the birthday girl

Karee's sister Kamber made her a maxi skirt. Is she excited or what!
 For those of you who are curious about how my Spanish is going.... it is not going very well. There aren't very many Spanish speakers in this area and I seem to be losing more and more each day. I read and study in Spanish, but it would seem as though I need to be speaking it to keep it up. I translate (at least I have for the past 3 Sundays here) during Sacrament meeting, but I don't think that is quite enough. (I really do enjoy translating, though it is a little weird talking all the way through sacrament meeting. It keeps my brain working hard, but I need to learn some more vocabulary). I have set a few goals and have asked Sister Godoy (my old companion) to help me out a little bit so hopefully I can start to improve again. I think that is something I have learned here on my mission is that there is always room for some of that. Luckily for us we have the Atonement of Jesus Christ to lift us and make the difference when we fall short. I guess it can go back to what Rebecca said, "Ye who want to know something, ask Christ." Each of us can do better and each of us can use the Atonement of Jesus Christ to make those improvements, we just have to ask. Ask for help and guidance, and He will answer those prayers.