Dear Family and Friends,
Today we went bowling again, and although I didn't do as good as I did last time, it was still fun. We even saw this league, or maybe even professional or competitive bowlers, come and they were practicing. They were really good, they even brought their own bowling balls and had shirts, they were really good, it was fun to watch. While we were playing, this mom with two little boys came and were just watching. She told us they just liked to watch, it was adorable, they would just sit there and get excited, it was so cute.
Today we had District Meeting where we watched some more of General Conference. The first talk was by Francisco J. Vinas. I really liked what he said about when we have the companionship of the Holy Ghost we will not offend others. Since my mission I have found that I can say offensive things, but I have had experiences when maybe my companion and I do have to have a hard conversation and I was able to say something that maybe would have been offensive, but since I was able to think about it and live in a way that I can have the Spirit with me, the Spirit helps me form it in a way the other person will understand and take it best. The second talk was by Quentin L. Cook. I liked the part he said about self control and how it is like a muscle, we have to continually work and exercise it to become better, and eventually we won't have that temptation anymore. I like what he said about missionaries and how we have to practice self control everyday on our missions, don't let the muscle atrophy after the mission, keep it up. The last talk was my favorite, by Robert D. Hales. A lot of it is for later for me. I like the end when he was giving all of these power lines. I didn't get them all written, but one I did catch was, "if you want more than you have now, reach up, not across." I find this statement so true, usually we are surrounded by people in our same situations who don't know much more about how to get out of situations (such as not being married), than I do. That is why it is important when seeking advice for that particular thing you need to find someone who has overcome that obstacle and has some experience so that we can move on with our lives and not be stuck in the same place forever. "Earth has no sorrow that Heaven cannot heal." In the evening we had English class and we only had one student, mostly it was just Sister Neeley and I having a discussion, but I learned a lot from it. We were talking about the great Apostasy and one of our questions was, "why is it important to base our decisions on truth?" I have never really thought about what I base some of my decisions on, like where to go to school, am I basing that decision on truth or because my friend is going there? Real, eternal truth never changes and that is why it is the best base for our decisions. Next time I need to make a major decision I will remember to pay attention to the truth that goes with it.
Today we needed to get Sister Neeley declared in our apartment we live in, so we had to go to this notary office with our landlady who signed a contract to take to the declaration office. Then we headed over to the declaration office and finished that. It is interesting here because every time we move apartments we have to declare. I am not sure why the country likes to keep track of everyone and where they are living, it is interesting. In the evening we decided to go knocking and find people since it has been getting really dark by 4:30 PM. I chose a place and we went there, when we got there we felt like we should say a prayer for some guidance of which dome (apartment building) we should knock because we were in the middle of quite a few. After we prayed we felt we should knock this one certain stairwell in this certain dome. We did, we started from the top of the 9 floors (luckily there was an elevator). We knocked the first and second floor (6 doors) and there was no answer on any of them, then we began knocking the 3rd floor down from the top and one woman answered. We told her who we were and why we were there, she shut us down with how she has her own church that she has gone to every Sunday since she was a little girl. We pretty much thought it was over, I was really to walk away because I didn't think there was a chance she would listen further. Sister Neeley even asked if there was anyone she knew that would be interested, she thought it was over too. Then Sister Neeley asked a question, "do you believe you can have a relationship with God?" The whole conversation shifted. Sister Neeley then proceeded to essentially give the first lesson there on her door step. She recited the First Vision and the Spirit was so strong. The woman, whose name is Zita, even listened the whole time, she spoke without interruption. Then by the end we were able to give her a Restoration pamphlet with our number on it, as well as a Book of Mormon. I thought it was over because I had asked if we could meet, she said she didn't have any time. Sister Neeley then decides to ask for her number, which I was very surprised, she said yes. It went very well, and I believe we gave that woman something to think about.
The rest of the week was amazing too, but I will write about it next Monday since this email is already pretty long.
Here is something from Sister Neeley:
Dear Sister Brown's Family,
Sister Neeley here, the favorite companion. ;) I simply just wanted to let you know how much good your missionary is doing in Lithuania. I wanted to share with you a few of my favorite recent moments with Sister Brown :) ...> :)
Last week we were going at it trying to follow the Spirit and find people. We had about 4-5 straight hours. That kind of time takes endurance! My spiritual endurance was waning after having quite a few doors shut on us and it became clear in my comments to Sister Brown. I can't remember now what was said, just how I was becoming discouraged, but Sister Brown talked me out of it and she encouraged me. We left the building because there were these guys doing maintenance and it was awkward and they weren't so happy we were there. Now, one of our companionship goals is to pray at any moment that we need to, this was one of those moments. I asked Sister Brown if we could say a prayer. We looked around and no one was nearby, so she offered a plea to our Heavenly Father to know where to go next. As she sincerely prayed and I focused, I felt the Spirit pulse though my body a couple times, cleansing and rejuvenating my Spirit. It felt really cool and much needed. That is the first time someone else's prayer has directly influenced me tangibly feeling the Spirit.
Something hilarious, the other day we were running to catch a bus that was about to leave as it waited further down along the road. Buses have usually 3 doors that open, but they prefer you get on the bus through the first doors in the front by the driver. Ha ha, we run up to the bus and the 3rd and 2nd doors shut as we get there, I will never forget the image of Sister Brown frantically knocking, the bus was about to drive away without us. After that frantic moment she displayed for all the tenants already seated on the bus, she realized the front doors were still open and that the bus driver was waiting for us. I got a way good laugh having seen the whole thing happen from behind. Favorite moment ever with Sister Brown and buses. Other favorite moments we have are when she teaches me some of her ballet skills as we sing our own nutcracker themes. :) It's good bonding. She's got some moves.
To end, I've never seen such improvement in any of my companions. Her prayers have really improved in their quality, which is evidence of her strengthening relationship with Heavenly Father. She is learning the voice of the Spirit and is loving the scriptures more and more each day. I love studying with her now and it is so impressive to see how far we have come as individuals and as a companionship. I used to call that magic how companions get along, but I have correctly learned that that is the Spirit. She is an angel to me and I've needed her. This has been such a pinnacle of my mission and I have never grown so much with anyone else, in all the best ways. :) I love your daughter and hope to visit you when I come home about March, so we can send a picture of us together to Sister Brown, because I told her I'd do that. :p I pretty much know you, so it won't be weird... for me. ;p
Su meile, Sister Neeley
(The favorite companion. just reminding you so that when she gets home you don't have to ask her, "who was your favorite?" Because you will already know...)
Here is a talk given by Elder Klebingat, who is in our Area Presidency. He is intense, but I learn a lot from him when he comes and visits.
"The Temple and the Sabbath Day"
The Holy temples of the Church of Jesus Christ are places where heaven and earth meet. Neither the ordinances performed nor the instructions given therein hold any appeal for the natural man. Only those desiring with all their heart to participate in temple worship will reap the promised spiritual blessings. Because of its deeply spiritual nature, it is never enough just to go through the temple; instead, the temple experience must go through us. Whenever this has been the case, leaving the spiritually uplifting environment of the temple and returning to this fallen world serves as a remind that we are indeed celestial beings having a celestial experience. Who of us would not just love to stay in the temple a little longer?
Now briefly consider the similarities of temple worship and keeping the Sabbath Day hold. To Moses and thus to all of us the Lord said, "Verily my Sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you...that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you. Ye shall keep the Sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you" (Moses 31: 13-14).
The temple is a place of refuge from the world, as should be the Sabbath
The temple is a place of revelation, as should be the Sabbath
The temple is a place of learning, as should be the Sabbath
The temple is a place of making and renewing covenants, as should be the Sabbath
The temple is a place of giving unselfish service, as should be the Sabbath
The temple is a place unspotted from the sins of the world, as should be the Sabbath
The temple is a place where we act and feel differently, as we should on the Sabbath
The temple is a place of reverence, as should be the Sabbath
The temple is a place where the world is not welcome, as should be the Sabbath
If you love participating in sacred temple ordinances, if spending time in the Lord's house is a delight to you, if you desire to harness that same spiritual power, please consider Sabbath Day observance an equal delight (see Isaiah 58:13). Joyful temple worship and joyful Sabbath Day observance are twin experiences that will bring peace to your heart and joy to your souls. According to the great theologian C.S. Lewis it is "safe to tell the pure in heart that they shall see God, because only the pure in heart will want to." Your desire to attend the temple and to keep the Sabbath Day holy are testimonies to your Heavenly Father of how earnestly you truly want to be in and to feel His presence.
May the Lord's choicest blessings be with you and your loved ones as you prepare spiritually for the Sabbath as you would for the temple. May you claim the promised blessings as one who honors and keeps the Sabbath Day holy!
I love you!
(I found this sign on a building, B for my first name and that is how you spell my last name so the Lithuanians can pronounce it) Cool!
I'm A Real Missionary!