Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Last week in the MTC! Travel Info! I cried in front of a woman named Lawanna!

Family & Friends!

I have but a brief 26 minutes to write you with!  Ahhhhhh!

Again, it feels like another lifetime has happened since I last wrote you.  Let me get some logistical issues out of the way first.

Number one, I received my travel info!  We leave the MTC Sept 5th (Monday) at 5 AM.  We have two long layovers - one in Houston and one in Miami.  PS, I can't stop humming Welcome to Miami by Will Smith for this reason.  Anyways, we are allowed to call home on one of our layovers, so parentals, GET READY.  Our Miami layover is around 5-7 PM, your time.  I'll be buying a phone card today!

Two, since I leave early early on Monday, any last mailed letters need to be here by Saturday.  Any final DearElders sent to the MTC need to be in by this Friday at 12 PM MST (2 PM if you're on the east coast)

Whew!  Alright, now let's get down to the nitty gritty.

Because fall semester just started, we lost Brother Welsh as a teacher!  I will miss him this week, he was awesome and I learned a lot (including that rebaptism is in the Bible!  Acts 19:1-6.  Check it).  Our new teacher is Brother Curtis, a kind hipster hailing from Mesa, Arizona.  We've only had one class from him thus far.  ALSO, through the miracle of modern communication, I received a Dear Elder from SORELLA NUFER.  She is serving in Italy right now and I was quite surprised to receive it!  I can't wait to write her back!

Last Tuesday, we had a devotional by Claudio D. Zivic of the Seventy.  He used lots of literary quotes and analogies to communicate his point.  It was coooooool.  Tonight, we will have another General Authority devotional - on Sunday, the devotional was given by President McIff, a counselor in the MTC presidency.  He is a doctor and so he spoke to us about how to stay healthy while serving and how important it is - because 38 PERCENT of missionaries on any given day are unable to serve because of illness/health issues!

Sister Sims and I were able to teach Peter (the investigator that Brother Welsh played) one last time last week.  Oh, my.  Family, I can't even say how wonderful it was.  Our first lesson with him was a tad clunky.  So, for the last lesson, I wanted to avoid that, and so I decided to treat Peter as a close friend.  When we started teaching, the Spirit was SO STRONG.   Ah, I'm tearing up even thinking about it.  We read Romans 8:16-18 with him, and talked about how God wants us to be like Him.  How that is the plan for all of us.  How we can use our agency to do so.  And then we invited him to be baptized.  And he said yes!  HE SAID YES!   It was beautiful.

We've had two TRC lessons with Lawanna thus far!  Our first lesson, she was a bit shy and so it was hard to get to know her.  We were talking to her about how Christ said that the greatest love we can show for our friends is to die for them, and how Christ says YOU are my friends, meaning he died for us.  We talked to her about one of the ways we can feel Christ's love is through our friends, so we began talking about that.  As I was talking about how much I've felt the love of Christ through my friends, I totally started crying!  Lawanna said, "are you crying??" Friends, I love you dearly.  Please don't forget that.  We only got to "God loves you" with her, but I think it was what she needed - she has not had an easy life.

Our second lesson was much better.  We continued working on getting to know Lawanna, and we studied our hearts out in the scriptures looking for things that would pertain to her.  We got to the fact that we need to follow Jesus Christ's example and exercise faith in the Atonement.  I hope to talk about baptism next week.  At the end of our lesson, she asked me for the scripture list I had made.  I was glad to give it to her, for her to go and read these things for herself.

Also, if you want to write me a letter before I leave the MTC, PLEASE use DearElder.com!  It is so simple.  Go to Write a Letter, select Provo MTC, and fill in the mission info (as found on Facebook).  It's like typing up an email.  Also, whoever gave my missionary email to Lucy's mother - THANK YOU!  Lucy, I'm sorry I didn't get you my mission home address!  Even though you won't read this for months and months.  Diane Ellision, could you forward me Liz's weekly emails?  Or email Laylene Dicou with my address?  Diana, could you get me Lucy's mission home address?

Ack!  Gotta run!  I LOVE YOU!

Sister Rachel Brisson


CONTACT:

From August 17 – September 5, I will be at the Missionary Training Center. While I’m there, you can write me FO’ FREE using www.dearelder.com. Essentially, you type up a letter, and they print it out and deliver it the same day.

Here is my MTC address (for snail mail/packages/DearEldering):
**I will probably get letters on Sept 3rd for the last time before I ship out.

Sister Rachel Anne Brisson
MTC Mailbox # 181
WST IND 0906
2005 N 900 E
Provo, UT 84604-1793

After I leave the MTC, you can email me at rachel.brisson@myldsmail.net (because I can receive but cannot respond to your emails, please include your mailing address so I can write you back!). You can also continuing using DearElder for the cost of a stamp, or you can write me at the mission office address:

Sister Rachel Anne Brisson
West Indies Mission
PO Bag 543
Valsayn
Trinidad
Trinidad and Tobago

(note: if you want your mail to reach me a little quicker, every blog entry should have my most recent address, but you can ALWAYS write me at the mission office). Packages to:

Sister Rachel Anne Brisson
West Indies Mission
PO Bag 543
Valsayn
Trinidad
Trinidad and Tobago

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

It's P-day, P-day, gotta get down on P-day

Hello family & friends! First order of business - my departure date is actually September 5th, so I imagine I'll get any final mail or DearElders on the 4th.

So, it feels like a LIFE TIME has happened since Alisha dropped me off at the curb. We essentially run on a 16-hour day schedule, where every hour is accounted for. My companion is Sister Sims, from Riverton, Utah. We are paired with another companionship in our district - Sister Weaver (Rexburg, Idaho) and Sister Fish (Mesa, Arizona). We are all headed to the West Indies! Two of the elders in our district are also coming to the West Indies; the other elders are going to Las Vegas West. I love my district, we have definitely grown together in the past seven days. I wish the elders going to Vegas were coming with us to the West Indies! They are very kind and super cool.

Everyone who entered the MTC after August 1st is now on the new MTC curriculum, which focuses on teaching. The old curriculum had missionaries teaching roughly 5 times before they left the MTC; on the new curriculum, each companionship gets to teach about 22 times. My two teachers, Brother Welsh and Brother Gonzalez, play investigators for us to teach towards the end of class. Brother Welsh plays Peter, a man in his mid-20's whom he met on his mission, and Brother Gonzalez plays Beto, an 18-year-old whose parents have joined the church. So far, we have taught Peter twice (once as a class, once as a companionship) and Beto once. We also participate in Zone Teaching - essentially, we pair up with the other two districts in our zone and we switch off between teaching and playing the investigator. When playing the investigator, we choose someone from our life we know fairly well and respond to the missionaries as we think they would. We've also had the opportunity to do TRC (Teaching Resource Center), where real investigators or recent converts come in and we talk with them. Sadly, our investigator, Lawanna, did not show up. We had met on the first night though, so I am excited to see her whenever that comes.

I think one of the happiest things so far about the MTC has been running into people I know! I have already seen Hermanas Wagner, Weagel, Walther, Dunn, Dezzeo, Bowns, St. Pierre, Doyle, Scott, in addition to Cestra Huber. I love my friends so much, and it is always so joyful to see them. They are doing well.

It is so hard to think of experiences that have stuck out, for it seems that EVERYTHING has stuck out. After every meal, it seems like a new day. Oftentimes, I find myself thinking in afternoon class, "Wait, was I exercising just this morning? Or was that yesterday?" It feels like I've learned more here in the past seven days than I've learned in six months.

Family, thank you so much for your support in prepping me for the MTC + getting me here. I have spoken to many people who do not have the support of their families in this great endeavor, or only have some support. Thank you thank you thank you.

Ahhhhh I only have two minutes left to write! What to say?? We are going to the temple this afternoon! We also have MTC Devotional tonight by one of the General Authorities - I think a member of the 12. We won't find out until 10 minutes beforehand. JACOB, good luck at BYU! Don't forget to pick up the TV from my old roommate Rachel. Look her up on Facebook. I'm thinking about you.

Lastly, I can only write letters on P-day, so if you've written me, you'll get your response shortly! I promiseeeee.

Fifteen seconds!!

LOVE YOU!

Sister Brisson

Monday, August 22, 2011

MTC Address

From August 17 – September 7, I will be at the Missionary Training Center. While I’m there, you can write me FO’ FREE using www.dearelder.com. Essentially, you type up a letter, and they print it out and deliver it the same day. Here is my MTC address (for snail mail/packages/DearEldering):

Sister Rachel Anne Brisson
MTC Mailbox # 181
WST IND 0906
2005 N 900 E
Provo, UT 84604-1793

After I leave the MTC, you can email me at rachel.brisson@myldsmail.net (because I can receive but cannot respond to your emails, please include your mailing address so I can write you back!). You can also continuing using DearElder for the cost of a stamp, or you can write me at the mission office address:

Sister Rachel Anne Brisson
West Indies Mission
PO Bag 543
Valsayn
Trinidad
Trinidad and Tobago

(note: if you want your mail to reach me a little quicker, every blog entry should have my most recent address, but you can ALWAYS write me at the mission office). Packages to:

Sister Rachel Anne Brisson
West Indies Mission
PO Bag 543
Valsayn
Trinidad
Trinidad and Tobago

Members of my family will be updating this information and my profile. See you in 18 months!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

SISTER SISTER

Oh hey, guess what?  I LEAVE IN TWO WEEKS.  My reporting date seemed forever away in April, and now, it's suddenly snuck up me.  I gave my farewell talk on Sunday, and I was really grateful for and touched by the support the members of my ward, my family, and my friends gave me.  This blog entry was also smushed onto the other two at one point or another, but alas, my verbosity made me scoot it into its own entry.

I often tell people that 20 girls from my freshman ward are either out serving missions or have calls in hand, and this list doesn't even include the ones who are working on their papers.  There's really only two reasons I bring it up:
1) It's cool.
2) It shows that more sisters are serving missions (to me).  

Let's do the math, shall we?  There were a little over 80 girls in my freshman ward.  20 are serving.  20/80 = 25%!  TWENTY FIVE PERCENT.  But where are they?  Where??

1) Emma - California Oakland/San Francisco Mission, Oakland Temple Visitors' Center
2) Brooke - Korea Seoul (Korean)
3) Brooke - Arizona Phoenix
4) Blythe - Utah Salt Lake City Temple Square
5) Heather - Brazil Sao Paulo Interlagos (Portuguese)
6) Lucy - Prague Czech Republic (Czech)
7) Liz - Morristown New Jersey
8) Jeanine - New Mexico Albuquerque (Spanish)
9) Jessica - Argentina Resistencia (Spanish)
10) Debbie - Minneapolis Minnesota (Spanish)
11) Steph - California San Diego
12) Rachel - Brazil Salvador South (Portuguese)
13) Kassandra - Honduras, San Pedro Sula (Spanish)
14) Bonnie - Chile Concepion North (Spanish)
15) Me!
16) Sydni - Argentina Buenos Aires North (Spanish)
17) Hilary - Slovenia/Croatia (Slovenian)
18) Elisabeth - Seattle Washington (Spanish)
19) Abby - Chile Santiago North (Spanish)
20) Melissa - Boston Massachusetts

This shows another facet of missionary service: it's everywhere.  Popular culture believes (as shown in CNN's Explain it to me video and various Washington Post articles) that the Mormon Church is a "white bread" (or is it white bred?) sect.  It's true - Mormonism is an American religion, as far as its roots technically come from America .  However, throwing that label on it undervalues that only half - HALF! - of the church's membership resides in the United States.  Missionary work - that is, bringing souls unto Christ - has been a part of Mormonism almost since the church formed.  In addition, Mormons were visiting other countries during the middle and late 1800's (for example, they were in Hawaii by approximately 1850). Missionary work is not a contemporary phenomena - instead, it is a continuation of the groundwork laid by the early Saints.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is a global gospel, unhindered by time.  In a 1991 conference address entitled "The Gospel - A Global Faith," President Howard W. Hunter said the following:

"Mormonism, so-called, is a world religion, not simply because its members are now found throughout the world, but chiefly because it has a comprehensive and inclusive message based upon the acceptance of all truth, restored to meet the needs of all mankind...the validity, the power, of our faith is not bound by history, nationality, or culture. It is not the peculiar property of any one people or any one age...Ours is a perennial religion based on eternal, saving truth. Its message of love and brotherhood is lodged in scripture and in the revelations of the Lord to his living prophet. It embraces all truth. It circumscribes all wisdom—all that God has revealed to man, and all that he will yet reveal."

You should definitely read that article, Mormon or not.  'Twill make you think.

Now, I said the above list was just of girls I knew from my freshman ward.  It doesn't include my coworkers who are serving in places like the Philippines, Minnesota, and Costa Rica, to name a few.  It doesn't include my other friends and roommates who have missions calls.  And it definitely doesn't include this common conversation:

Woman I've known for a long time:  Oh, congratulations on your mission call!
Me: Thanks!
WIKFALT: I remember when I served my mission...
Me: Wait, what??  You served a mission?
WIKFALT:  Yep, I did!
Me: What the, how did I never know this??

It's like joining a secret society or something.

I'm grateful for the many examples of missionary service I have in my life, especially for the example of sister missionaries.  I cannot wait to join their ranks.  Overall, I'm most grateful for our savior, Jesus Christ, who gave us the ultimate gift in performing the atonement, and for Heavenly Father's gift of agency, or our ability to choose.  I love this gospel, and I am so excited to put it in my brothers' and sisters' hands.