Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A week of miracles

SAN DIEGO — Today is one of those days that my heart just got pounded with how much I love and my family. I hope you are all doing well. It sounds like it! Sara's interview, Nick's interview, Finding out about the mini-Chris or Hannah — you all have your hands full!

Mom and Juli: Thanks for the package, it is just perfect. I’m going to share the Halloween treats tomorrow at district meeting:)

Mom: would you tell grams and gramps thanks for the letter and that I love them? I wont have time this week to write a letter.

Dad: I blew it on Grandpa (Newman)'s birthday. Can you tell him happy birthday for me, and that I love him so much! So sorry about that, I feel so bad!

This week we have been teaching people a lot about the Ten Commandments. Every time we talk about "thou shall not covet" to me, Heavenly Father is saying, "Brittany, please be grateful for what I have given you." 

We have a calendar up in our apartment and each day we write down one of the miracles that happened to us. I am so very humbled every time I look at that calendar to realize the hand God has in my life. This week I want to share with you my week of miracles.

Monday, October 22, 2012: Celeste committed to be baptized!

"...Sister Jarrett, having been so scared to recite the First Vision, started speaking with such power and authority that all in the room could in no way deny that what she spoke was from Heaven. The Holy Ghost bore a powerful witness to all of our souls of the truth of Joseph’s vision. I looked at her, with conviction in my soul, knowing that if she felt what I did, she would want to follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized with someone holding the priesthood authority of God. As I invited her to be baptized, she looked at both of us, and said. "Yes. It makes sense.... Yes".

Tuesday, October 23:

After Preparation Day, we had shift at the Battalion. The senior couple was stuck in traffic; I was assigned to the desk. (Meaning I make sure that the sisters coming on shift relieve the senior missionaries that were taking tours). After a few minutes of slight chaos, the job was done... or so I thought. After about 10 minutes, a guy pops out of the outfitting room and says, "I tried to give them the tour, but the ladies come to the window and I don’t know what to do next!" This poor Mormon guy, who had been in a week before and brought his friends back, gave the tour from the enlistment room to where Martha comes to the window in the outfitting room! I rushed in, played it off the best I could. Can you imagine though? HA! I wish I had their perspective of a pioneer popping into the tour looking concerned that the roof might leak! It was pretty funny.  That made it possible for us to laugh and joke the rest of the tour, by the end, our only non-member on the tour felt right at ease and was willing to learn more.

Wednesday, October 24: An opportunity to serve

Sister Stirling was sick and we were the only ones that could help so her companion could stay on shift. We sat at her apartment and weekly planned, and had extra time to clean their apartment. What a good feeling it is to help someone in need. They had been worrying about when they would have time to organize, and here Heavenly Father plopped us right in her apartment room, making our schedule available, so Heavenly Father's dear daughters would have one less thing to stress about. I love Heavenly Father's timing!

Speaking of timing, as we were finishing up, President called me out of the blue. He just had this feeling to ask me if I had considered coming home on the 29th. It hit me so hard as he was speaking, because I have been suppressing this worry inside that maybe I should have decided to come home a few days earlier to get school in order. Thinking that it was too late, I pushed those feelings aside, knowing that I already committed to that date. But as President talked to me, I felt Heavenly Father's reassurance that He really does know me inside and out —worries and all — and He does care. (So, FYI Parents, even though I don’t want to think about it, my departure date is now December 29th. So don’t leave me stranded at the airport!)

I’m running out of time so I’m going to skip Thursday- It was great though!

Friday, October 26: A roomful of mission presidents

All of the mission presidents in the western United States had a mission president’s conference in San Diego this week. I was on shift as they all came to take the tour, and was lucky enough to take one of the tours. It was slightly intimidating, as there were about eight mission presidents and their wives, and 2 sets of General Authorities. I felt so honored to tell the story of my ancestors.

When we got to the courthouse, I stood in front of them, not as a nervous 22-year-old, but as a representative of Jesus Christ. As I spoke, I know the words didn’t come from me — these men faced challenges every day. "Though yours aren’t the same, I know you have to do hard things. My mission president has made all the difference in my life as you do for your (missionaries)." 

Imagine that scene, three benches filled with men in suits. I felt their tiredness, their frustrations as their missionaries choose the wrong, the pressure of moving the work forward. And at that very moment, Heavenly Father helped me tell them that they were important to Him. (I hope you know that you are important to Him too)

I’m really running out of time now! I'll do one more

Saturday, October 27:

We were on shift at the temple and Julio and Blanca from Mexico walked up. They had seen pictures on the Internet of the temple and wanted to know what it was. As I was telling them about the temple, it was different than any other experience I have had before. The Spirit came from them. Their eyes wouldn’t leave mine. Heavenly Father told me they are ready. And yes, they were. God will move His work forward with or without us. But believe me, you don’t want to be left behind.

Just a final thought:

"Who shall say that Jesus Christ did not do many mighty miracles? And if there were miracles wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchangeable being?" And behold I say unto you HE CHANGETH NOT; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles."

That is as true in my life as it is in yours. Have you thanked Heavenly Father for today's miracles?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


SAN DIEGO — I only have about ten minutes to write this week. I am so sorry, I just ran out of time. It's funny that it happened because what I have been pondering lately is time. What precious moments these are.

There is a quote Sister Jarrett showed me from Elder Ardern's talk from a previous conference:

"Time is never for sale; time is a commodity that cannot, try as you may, be bought at any store for any price. Yet when time is wisely used, its value is immeasurable. On any given day we are all allocated, without cost, the same number of minutes and hours to use, and we soon learn, as the familiar hymn so carefully teaches, “Time flies on wings of lightning; we cannot call it back” (“Improve the Shining Moments,” Hymns, no. 226). What time we have we must use wisely. President Brigham Young said, “We are all indebted to God for the ability to use time to advantage, and he will require of us a strict account of [its] disposition”
"With the demands made of us, we must learn to prioritize our choices to match our goals or risk being exposed to the winds of procrastination and being blown from one time-wasting activity to another...
"... The poor use of time is a close cousin of idleness. As we follow the command to “cease to be idle” (D&C 88:124), we must be sure that being busy also equates to being productive. For example, it is wonderful to have the means of instant communication quite literally at our fingertips, but let us be sure that we do not become compulsive fingertip communicators. I sense that some are trapped in a new time-consuming addiction—one that enslaves us to be constantly checking and sending social messages and thus giving the false impression of being busy and productive.
"Satan will tempt us to misuse our time through disguised distractions... As many have already discovered, there is an increase of happiness in life as we use our time to seek after those things which are “virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy
"I know our greatest happiness comes as we tune in to the Lord (see Alma 37:37) and to those things which bring a lasting reward, rather than mindlessly tuning in to countless hours of status updates, Internet farming, and catapulting angry birds at concrete walls. I urge each of us to take those things which rob us of precious time and determine to be their master, rather than allowing them through their addictive nature to be the master of us.
Alma spoke of priorities when he taught that “this life became a probationary state; a time to prepare to meet God” (Alma 12:24)...  I testify that when help is prayerfully and sincerely sought, our Heavenly Father will help us to give emphasis to that which deserves our time above something else... 

To have the peace the Savior speaks of (see John 14:27), we must devote our time to the things that matter most, and the things of God matter most. As we engage with God in sincere prayer, read and study each day from the scriptures, ponder on what we have read and felt, and then apply and live the lessons learned, we draw nearer to Him. God’s promise is that... “[He] shall give unto [us] knowledge by his Holy Spirit”

I testify that there are great rewards for those who take time in mortality to prepare for immortality and eternal life.

A few days ago, I calculated out how much time I really get to teach each day until the end of my mission. When you take out time for sleep, eating, study, and don’t count the tours at the Mormon Battalion, the precious time left of my mission adds up to about ten days. Elder Zwick talked about how we as missionaries are to live the law of consecration, it is by the "perfect use of time". I think that statement applies not only to my life, but also to our lives.

We have been trying to do that this week — using our time perfectly. We have been more organized, more on time, and more planned out. What I have learned is that when I make an effort to perfectly use His time, He allows me to be part of His perfect timing. I have made a goal to do what President Monson asked. The other day we were driving (I was lost, of course), and we saw a girl walking alongside the road. I had this feeling to pull over. 

"Why?" I asked myself. 

We have to get to these people's house, I’m going to scare this girl half to death, and I’m not exactly sure what my companion will think. But my spirit thought, "No, you do it and you do it NOW," so we pulled over, and talked to Gemma (pronounced hemma). We testified boldly of the Restoration and of Prophets. She was astonished, and wanted to know more. That is God's timing.

God will use every second of your time, it just depends on how much you give him. Do you give him an hour? 20 minutes? 30 seconds?

Time is precious. Time is easily wasted. And time is something we will be held accountable to God when the day comes that we are reunited with Father.

I have felt and seen the joy that comes from giving your life to Heavenly Father. We are missionaries now and forever. You can’t turn back. You are and always will be disciples of Jesus Christ. I hope you do what I did. Calculate how much time you are using during the day. I think you will be surprised how much time you have. What will you use it for?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Let the Lower Lights Be Burning

SAN DIEGO — I am so glad you are doing well! :) My week has been hard on my heart, that is for sure. I wish I could explain, but it is just so hard to.

Let me first start with transfers. You all asked a lot about how that works, and I realize I probably haven’t done very well at explaining. I am serving at the Mormon Battalion Historic Site six hours a day and I am assigned an area that I drive to for six hours a day. We rotate whether we take the morning or evening shift, so we can have both mornings and evenings in our area each week. We all live in Old Town San Diego so we can be close to the Mormon Battalion. My area is Helix Singles Ward. It is a HUGE area, covering 5 main city suburbs of San Diego. This is my third transfer here, and I will most likely end my mission here, as I am training Sister Jerrett. 

The church has a 12-week training program for new missionaries. We have a handbook, practice and reading materials from Preach My Gospel and the scriptures so that I can help Sister Jerrett, if called upon, to train after twelve weeks of being in the mission. I was really emotional this week sitting in the trainer’s meeting with President and the rest of the trainers. I think it hit me how much Heavenly Father loves Sister Jerrett, and how Heavenly Father has trusted me to help this be the standard for the rest of her mission and on into eternity.

Sister Jerrett is so great. She is 23 years old from Winnemucca, Nevada. She graduated from BYU in Human Development. Chris (Brittany’s older brother) and I were actually in her BYU ward at Roman Gardens! Chris may have played soccer with Jessica Buxton, her roommate? She recognized him in our family picture. Small world huh? It is so interesting the last two transfers training Sister Miller. I know it will be very different from training Sister Jerrett. They both are amazing missionaries, just very, very different. I suppose this is great practice for having kids. Let's just hope I don’t get any as sassy as me, right, dad?

Let the lower lights be burning, send a gleam across the wave!

 Do you all remember Daniel? The night before his baptism, he texted us and said he is "walking away". 

If you knew Daniel, if you could have just been in the room with me hearing his testimony of the Book of Mormon, if you could listen to his prayers as he plead with Heavenly Father to help him, watching his determination to live the commandments, you would understand how hard that was to hear. I haven’t heard from him since, but we will never stop praying or looking for him. The worth of every soul is great in the sight of God.

That same night, Robert looked me in the eyes and I asked him.

Robert, "Do you know the Book of Mormon is true?" 

He responded, "Yes".

"Robert, do you know that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God?"

Again he responded, “Yes.

"Do you know that The Church of Jesus Christ has been restored to the earth?"

Robert responded, “Yes”

And then I asked him if he would continue to prepare for the day he set to be baptized?

Robert responded that he would not.

Even with knowledge that this is true, he said no. I wish I had an eternal perspective. I know that it will all work out, but I don’t understand why things happen sometimes!

All I can say today is how grateful I am to be a missionary. Do you remember the talk about the "lower light" from General Conference? Sister Jerrett and I sang that this morning and it really hit me what a responsibility I have knowing I am a daughter of God, and exactly what we all have to do to return to live in His presence again.

Brightly Beams our Father's mercy from his lighthouse evermore: His Gospel will NEVER stop shining upon the world that is dark and lost.

But to us he gives the keeping of the lights along the shore: WE are the ones responsible for shining that light. If we don’t, who will?

(Verse 2)
Dark the night of sin has settled; Loud the angry billows roar, Eager eyes are watching, longing for the lights along the shore:  There ARE and always WILL BE sailors lost at sea looking for the lower light to guide them safely home. Have you left your post? For a second? For quite some time? Come back! Your light is needed to guide someone safely home.

(Verse 3)
Trim your feeble lamp, my brother, some poor sailor, tempest tossed. Trying now to make the harbor, in the darkness may be lost- Strengthen your testimony, no matter who you are, we need to trim our lamps to shine forth and be a standard to the nations.


I think being a missionary opens one's eyes to the urgency of this work. You may read these emails and think, "Oh she’s just a missionary". That I am and forever will be. I cannot and will never go back. Neither should you.

Love you all, I hope you think about the way you are using this precious time on earth, for we will all be held accountable for every single moment.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Fourth Watch

SAN DIEGO — General Conference was amazing!

I sometimes think, "Oh how cool would it be to know Moses, Noah, even Lehi", and then I realize once again: I get to see the prophet of God here, now, TODAY! Do you realize how incredibly lucky we are?

When I teach people about the prophet, they are amazed, they are so excited and anxious to learn what he has to say. And then I hear members grumbling about "having" to watch conference. Don’t ever take that for granted!

Dad asked me what I thought about the new age limit for missionaries. I am so excited to add more troops to this war! The time is getting eerily close. You can see it in everything, especially being a missionary. I feel like I could place myself in the war chapters of the Book of Mormon sometimes. Right now, I feel that I am in Antipus' army. We are fighting with all our might and it seems like we might be overtaken, but now Heavenly Father has recruited the Stripling Warriors — his young ones with fire and faith and zeal to help us win the war. It gives me chills thinking about it.

Today I want to talk to you about "the fourth watch." I want to share with you something that Sister Clayton wrote to us as missionaries:

In the sixth chapter of Mark, after having fed the five thousand, the Savior sends his apostles down to the ship, and instructs them to push out to sea.
"And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray. 

And when even was come, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and he alone on the land. 

And he saw them toiling in rowing for the wind was contrary unto them and about the fourth watch of the night, he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea"

 The Hebrew night was divided into four watches, each lasting three hours with the fourth watch taking place between three in the morning and sunrise. 

Brother Wilcox states: "I worship a fourth watch God. One who tends to feel that it is good to let His children toil in rowing against the wind to face a little opposition. My problem is that I am a first watch person. Now there is something inside of me that understands that it is good for me to toil in rowing against the wind. But certainly by the second watch He would come. And when the second watch has passed and He still has not come, sometimes I forget that... He is watching."

Brother Wilcox goes on to explain it is easy to make one dangerous assumptions about why He is not coming yet to us. One is that the Savior is just not there and that is why He is not responding. Second is that if He is there, He is not listening. Third is if He is there and He is listening He must not care. And the fourth — and most dangerous of all — is that if He is there, and if He is listening, and if He cares, we must not be worthy.

In all cases, these assumptions are false. He is there. He is listening. He cares. And even though we probably are not entirely worthy, He will always respond. If He has not yet come to us, it must be because we have not yet reached the fourth watch.

I, too, feel like a first watch person. This week has proven to test my faith. We had five investigator lessons cancel on us, and have not added anyone new for a few weeks now. It has been weighing heavily on me. 

I remember the other night, jokingly yelling at the ceiling during one of our nightly plannings, "Heavenly Father, please can this be our fourth watch?" 

To my surprise, the very next day the Elders gave us a referral of a girl they had been teaching that was Young Single Adult age. Then yesterday, we were able to find a few people for the other missionaries to teach. How humbling it is to know that God does hear us. He does know us and He does care.

I’m not saying you can yell at the ceiling for the fourth watch to come. Sometimes it is far off, sometimes it is close. But I want you to know that it will come. I know with each of you, you are going through hard times. I hear about it, and I want you to know I think and pray about you. Don’t give up. Please don’t give up. It just might not be the time of the forth watch.

P.S: Just got transfer calls. They are splitting me and Sister Miller. I’m training in Helix, probably to the end of my mission as training takes two transfers and that’s all I have left. Can you believe 11 out of 13 transfers in a singles ward? Whew! CRAZY!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Lengthen your Stride

SAN DIEGO — Let me start out with a funny story or two. You know me, and mom has taught me well (about cleaning). What a difference it makes to have a clean home so that the Spirit can be there.

I have taken that advice seriously my whole mission and am proud to say, Mom, you could come into my apartment and be really happy. 

The other night, to my dismay, Sister Miller and I finished planning and were sitting on the floor to write in our journals, when a little "stuart little" came running from under the couch across the floor to the kitchen.

Surprisingly, we didn't scream, but boy, did we get on top of the couch and chair as fast as we could! We were telling Sister Affleck about the story and she told us a pretty funny thing that happened to her just before she came on their mission. 

She was up late studying for an anatomy test and earlier that day had watched Stuart Little with her grandson. All of a sudden she saw a little mouse climb on top of the counter and start nibbling on the bread bag. With Stuart Little on her mind, she whispered, "Hey mouse, you gotta get out of here!"

The little mouse looked up at her. "No, I'm serious little mouse, if my husband comes down and finds you, your dead!" 

Then she heard Elder Affleck ask, "Karen, what are you doing?" 

"Just talking to this mouse. I told him if he didn't leave, you would get him". 

Then she said, "sure enough, 10 seconds later, he was being flushed down the toilet, dead as a door nail!

Anyway, I thought that was cute :)

Many of you asked about Ryan's baptism on Saturday. Let me tell you how it went:

September 29, 2012

Today was an incredible day. My mind keeps rewinding back to the moment that Ryan came up out of the water, his face shining, his smile wide, and my heart full of the assurance that he felt clean, new and at peace.

I was just sitting on the couch pondering a moment I had a few days ago at our missionary training day. President Clayton brought the three zones that were together out in the parking lot. Imagine just that: 40-50 missionaries forming a solid line across the lot, our mission president at the head of us, like a modern day Army of Helaman. 

He asked us to start walking. We did. Then, he asked us to "raise our sights" immediately, 50 heads raised to the heavens. Then he called, "lengthen your stride." Quickly we covered more ground...march, march, marching across the lot. "Quicken your pace!" The urgency of the work hit my soul and I wanted to sprint across the parking lot to find the imaginary soul waiting to be found.

Sitting on the couch, having just witnessed Ryan's baptism, I imagined the missionaries all over the world. Just think — eyes raised to the heavens, our strides lengthened, and our pace increased. It hit my heart to think of how many of God's children made a covenant with God today. In President Hinckley's words. "It is good, but it is not enough!" How true that is. 

I may be in the army of Helaman, but Helaman's army wasn't the only one that helped win the war. There was still Antipus, Moroni, and other captains that made a difference. I wish I could help all the members in this world raise their sights, lengthen their stride, and quicken their pace. There is so much work to be done!

I would never have thought before my mission that talking to a guy on the street heading to the bus stop would have meant anything. Boy, was I wrong, It meant EVERYTHING. That is something I don't need to be a missionary to do.

Our whole journey with Ryan is flashing in my mind.
  •  Walking along the busy street, getting directions from Ryan, and talking about the Restoration, exchanging numbers literally as he was on the bus steps driving away
  • Sitting outside the church in the parking lot, teaching him about a Plan that would bring him the peace that he desperately needed as he was full of a pain that was eating at his heart since the death of his father
  • Kneeling in the middle of a lesson at church, asking him to pray to God to know if the Book of Mormon was true.
  • Feeling the crush of my heart as Ryan expressed he wouldn't keep his baptism date.
  • Finally, sitting next to Sister Miller, my arm wrapped around her, as someone we have grown to love and care about, walked into the water and was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

It was and has always been so amazing to feel the Spirit rush into the room and touch everyone's hearts. THAT is a testimony of truth, something no one can deny. Ryan's mother was there. I looked at her and knew that she felt the peace and the comfort that comes when the Holy Ghost is testifying of truth.

To end everything perfectly, the Rockwells (A senior couple missionary in our ward) bought Ryan a birthday cake as today was also his birthday. We hung up a birthday banner. Ever since his father passed away, birthdays haven't meant much to him and he hasn't really had one. As everyone was talking, we turned the chalkboard around with our birthday banner and brought out the cake, while singing happy birthday. I can't express how happy I was to see our ward, our mission president, Ryan and his mom as we welcomed him not only to the church, not only to a new life, but to a family.

It truly hit me tonight that this is really what it is all about. This life is a time to prepare to meet God, and spend the rest of eternity with our family.
Thank you all for your prayers. This gospel is so true. It is so real. It is so important!