Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Tests, Trials and Travel Itineraries.

This week has been crazy beyond belief. It has given me a big reminder that everything happens for a reason and Heavenly Father has a plan for us!

We received our travel plans on Christmas Eve, just after emailing home. What a great Christmas gift!! We were so excited to read our flights off and check out what time we'd be landing in Sweden.  As we were reading the plans, we noticed something a little off.  The travel group only had 12 people in it, but there are 13 of us going to Sweden.  Elder Simonsen hadn't gotten his travel plans, so they went to the travel office to find out if he was the one not in our group.  They said they must have accidentally forgotten to print his flights for him and assured us that he was going to be traveling on Monday. Elder Backman, our district leader, got the list of those traveling with us and the only name not on the list was Sister Adamson. SO WEIRD because she'd gotten her travel plans with all the same flights as us. WELL. Fast forward to Monday. The travel office had been closed because of the holidays so we went to clear things up about 13 swedes traveling instead of 12. Sister Adamson brought her flight plans and we came to realize that they weren't hers in the first place.  They were Elder Simonsen's! The emotional roller coaster of realizing that I'm going to leave one of my companions behind has been crazy. The ups and downs of knowing you've been called to Sweden but not being able to go have really taken her for a ride. She will be temporarily reassigned state side and we are all making the most of it.  Heavenly Father knows what's going on and he knows exactly where her visa is. He will put her in a place where she will be used very effectively.  There is a reason for all of this and we know Heavenly Father would never give us anything we couldn't handle.

On Christmas Eve we watched a movie called the Nativity Story and it was really really awesome. We woke up bright and early at 5:45 on Christmas day and the snow outside was a miracle.  We were so excited to get out and play in it :) That morning we wanted to open our presents in the classroom with the elders, so we ate all that great cereal (holy cow, ya'll sent me so much cereal.) together in the classroom while we opened our presents.  We got all the elders presents from around the MTC and even made some of them. It was like a white elephant party and it was so fun seeing their faces as they unwrapped branches and ugly pajama pants. 

The pillowcase I got was so great!!! THE CAT'S PAW PRINT MAKES ME SO HAPPY. I'm like the official cat woman of the zone but I don't even care. All your names and the happy hymns on it are the greatest :) Thank you so so so much!! Also thank you to grandma for the beautiful journal she sent me! I love it so much and believe me, it will get LOTS of use while I'm in Sweden!

For our Christmas devotional Russell M. Nelson came and it was amazing. The spirit that fills the room during every devotional with the apostles is so tangible its insane. I was able to be in the choir for Christmas and we sang this beautiful song called Precious Savior, Dear Redeemer.  I've said it like 30 times but for real you need to go look up that song because it kind of changed Christmas entirely for me. 

Calling home on Christmas was so great!! I'm beyond happy I was able to hear all your voices and speak some Swedish with you :) even if you couldn't understand everything I said, at least you can be relieved that I know how to say things!

Elder Linchenko and Sister Giles were in the missionary talent show on Christmas and they sang and played to guitar together. It was really good until Elder Linchenko went for this really high note and then it was the greatest train wreck in the world. 

Sunday might have been the most crazy emotional day at the MTC yet. After being interviewed by a member of the branch presidency they called my name over the intercom and told me to pick up the hall phone to contact the front desk. They never use the intercom unless there is an emergency or someone is in trouble. So I called and they told me I needed to come immediately to the District President's office. I walked on down there with Sister Adamson and I was freaking out that maybe they were having issues with my visa or my residence wasn't clean enough and they wanted to give me a firm talking to. 

The district president sat me down and said, "well first off I want you to know that your family is fine, but I do have some bad news. Your uncle has passed away. But we don't know which uncle." 

And at that point I felt outside of myself because I was thinking of every single one of my uncles. They have families and kids and all these people that care about them. They gave me some time to call and find out who it was.

When mom picked up the phone and told me it was Duane it felt like my soul collapsed in on itself. My dad's older brother who was always the sweetest person and made you smile every time you saw him.  I couldn't imagine not going to see him at the care center and not hearing his infectious laugh. My body felt numb and I just cried. The phone call was only 20 minutes long, and I felt the spirit the whole time. There is a reason he is called the Comforter.

After hanging up I leaned back in the chair and just breathed for a few minutes and pretty soon those tears of grief turned into tears of joy. I know that Duane is probably the happiest he's ever been right now. He's in the arms of the Savior and he went back to his dad and older sister. He can run. He can talk now. He can finally do all those things for himself that he was never able to do before. In literally 30 minutes my deep sorrow turned into amazing joy. 

In sacrament meeting following the phone call we sang I Believe in Christ as the opening song. On the third verse it says "I believe in Christ, so come what may" and I was like "alright world, bring it on. I'm on the Lord's team and nothing will stop us." 

I can't wait to share the knowledge I have of the plan of salvation. There are so many people who think that death is the end and they will never see their family again.  They don't know that life continues. I know that we can be with our family for eternity. I rejoice in it! I can't wait to teach others of this plan!!

I saw Maudi Walker and Rachel Yates at devotional that night. SO GOOD TO SEE FRIENDS HERE!! David Archuleta and Richard Elliot were there for devotional. It was so great! Like we were maybe 30 feet from them so that was really really cool.

The Icelandic Elders and our one danish Sister went to the field on Monday. GONNA MISS THEM LOTS! 

Most of all I just want to say that in life there are ups and downs and you can hit rock bottom and be taken for turns that you never see coming. You can be shaken to your core and fall to your knees but the Savior will never leave you comfortless. Heavenly Father knows of your struggle and through your faith you can be lifted higher than you ever thought possible. I know that this church is true and I know that Jesus Christ lives and directs this church through his prophet Thomas S. Monson. I know that there is a plan for us and that plan is perfect and complex and beautiful for each and every individual person because our God is omnipotent and omniscient. Our trials and tests are only for a small moment and God will never give us more than we can take. I know that He loves us and knows us. I know because I have felt it every single day. 

Have an amazing week everyone!! I love you all so much and pray for you all the time!!
Syster Janessa Brink

Last day with our teachers!!
^Last class with Brother Whitworth!^

^Last class with Brother Marchant^

^dasdfsadf. It means sadfsadf.  Swedish Rocks.^

^So excited to open this photo album!!!  Also the rodent sweater.  It's everyone's favorite.^

^Sister giles and I loved our stockings!!  She says thanks for the note Makayla ;)^

^my rendition of the icelandic elders^

^our Christmas loot^

^we made elder simonson a bus.  he loved it^

^elder backman breaking every fashion rule.  Merry christmas^

^gotta get a picture with that christmas mess^

^snow is a christmas miracle^

^most of our zone before the icelandic elders and sister mandla left!!


^an MTC original. It's called the sister missionary. An elder told me the name is because its all pretty and colorful on the outside but its ice cold inside. Mostly I just like how it tastes so.^

^who ya gonna call? service is so fun on monday mornings!^

^this was from study time this morning :)^

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

God Jul!!!

hej hej familj!!! Jag älska ni så mycket!! Jag hoppas ni har en bra jul!!! :)

Last week was our last time going to the temple while at the MTC, it's closed this week for Christmas and next week for cleaning (which we get to help with!) so we did a session and hung out in the celestial room for a while and it was so great to be there! 

Also on wednesday night we got to help with People & Your Purpose (that first class the new missionaries have.  I loved it SO much when I did it!) We basically went in and got to know the person and then turned them over to the new missionaries to teach! 

On thursday we had TRC over skype.  Basically we taught this swedish guy and it was rough because:
1) you can't even understand english over skype. 
2) he spoke REALLY fast. 
3) he had this crazy accent on all his r's and a's
4) we weren't really prepared to teach him

But it went okay. At least now we know kind of what to expect when we get to sweden. 

I think it's funny. In swedish I can talk all about celestial marriage, the first vision, overcoming drug addiction or explain the atonement, but I can't order a sandwich from a restaurant. Such is life. I guess at least I've got the important stuff down!

Also on thursday us sisters decided to pull a prank on our teacher and during one of our 3 minute breaks we traded clothes and then went back to class like nothing happened.  It was seriously so funny! He started teaching the lesson and then he was like "....Wait. Didn't you have a different skirt on earlier?" It was so great xD

On friday it was B. Whitworth and B. Marchant's last day with us. They're both traveling for Christmas and they won't be back before we report. I seriously almost fell apart. After spending so much time with them every day we became the best of friends. I'm gonna miss them lots!! \

Our undersökare Haydar is getting baptized! Mark is baptized! and Nilla will be baptized on January 1st! We are so excited for them! The difference from when we first started teaching them and now is incredible! 

We also taught Mick again. This lesson was so under-planned we thought we were just going to bomb the whole thing.  So we said a prayer to help us teach with the spirit and follow its promptings before we went in.  That lesson went better than we could have ever thought.  We covered SO MANY topics that we wouldn't have gotten to had we planned it all out like usual. We got to the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, social conversion, the law of chastity, etc.  I was able to bear my testimony on Joseph Smith and after that Mick FINALLY got it! It was like we turned on a light. I don't think he's going to have a problem with going to church anymore.


Since our teachers left, one of the Norsk teachers has been giving us a few lessons and she knows Justin! So dear Elder Brink, Sister Landry says hi!

Yesterday we had class with a different swedish teacher (B. Sagers; he also knows justin. They went to AF high together) and that was good.  Sister Adamson and Sister Giles had an audition for the christmas talent show so they went and did that while I stayed in class to work on my svenska. I'm going to be in the choir for christmas and we're singing this beautiful song called Precious Savior, Dear Redeemer.  YOU NEED TO FIND IT. It's amazing! They'll be broadcasting the devotional to other MTC's around the world so that's pretty exciting!  Rumor has it one of the members of the first presidency is coming for our christmas devotional so everybody is pretty stoked for that! 

I've been thinking about missionary work and how this is my life now and holy cow it's exhausting but it's the best.  It sucks waking up at 6:30 am and not being able to dance or listen to music but being here at the MTC and having the privilege to wear the name of the Savior over my heart all day everyday is the greatest thing ever. I get to spend the next 17 months of my life caring for other people, I get to take myself out of the equation and help others find what they're missing in their lives. I get a front row seat to miraculous changes of heart and I get to teach people in a foreign language.  I'm not in anyway serving this mission for myself, but I have personally received so many blessings it's almost like I'm getting the bulk of the benefit.  

With Christmas tomorrow (I can't wait to call you!) we've got a full schedule.  Don't forget why we even have christmas in the first place. It can get lost among the boxes and paper and ribbons.  The greatest gift we can give someone is the gift of the gospel.  Serve someone this week.  Share your testimony even if you don't know what you're going to say. Tell your family you love them and give of yourself.  I can't wait to get to sweden to share the message of the savior with everyone I can talk to! 

Have a great Christmas everyone!!! I love you all SO MUCH and I pray for you everyday (like 30 times everyday #missionariesprayalot) Can't wait to hear from you all again :)

Mycket kärlek och gladje,
Syster Janessa Brink

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

: Många ändrar (Many Changes)


I'll start where I left off last week!

Wednesday, December 10
We went to the temple and I took S. Giles and S. Adamson to do their first sealings!!! It was sooo great! The sealer was awesome! One of the temple workers had like 600 names to do and it was way cool being able to help him with all of them! We ate dinner at the temple and one of the temple workers in the cafeteria knew swedish! So we talked to him for a little while and ate some real food (MTC food is not nice to my stomache) We also got new Dutchies!!! 4 elders and 2 sisters. They're so fun! On their first night the elders we're trying to get into the sister's residence because they were lost hahaha

Thursday, December 11
We had TRC and got to teach Sister Kerr (she's like 60 and she's from sweden) She is sooo cute!! I got the box with the rosemary bread and the awesome christmas glasses :) My district was in awe with them! They've never seen anything like that before! Thursday was kind of rough for us, and there wasn't really a reason why. It was just kind of a hard day.  I got a blessing from Äldste Larson, and it was really helpful.  It's so nice to know that I can get a blessing literally anytime I need it. The Äldster (elders) are such good guys and it's great to give them the opportunity to use their preisthood.  We were able to teach each other in english on thursday night and it was seriously so cool! I honestly don't remember what I said, but the gift of tongues is not limited to different languages.

Friday, December 12
The life cereal in the cafeteria is what keeps me going. It was brother Sagers' birthday so we celebrated a little bit with the other swedish district :) He knows Justin so that's cool! I ran into the MTC president, President Nally in the salad line and we were able to chat for a little bit. 

Saturday, December 13
We decided to commit Marc to baptism. We've been teaching him for a couple weeks now, and when I was able to extend the invitation he was all for it!! So excited for him even though he's not a real investigator! Brother Whitworth was so funny on saturday night. He's got this great Kramer impersonation, we just fell apart. It was seriously such a great night

Sunday, December 14
While the district and zone leaders were in the morning branch meeting I told some of the elders about where we live. It was so nice to be able to think about home for a little while and draw a little floor plan of the house and just remember being there. I haven't had much time to think about home but having those few minutes was just the greatest. It snowed a little but it didn't stay for very long. I feel like I'm in A Year Without A Santa Claus where it doesn't snow and heat miser is controlling the weather.  This is literally the weirdest winter I've ever seen in my life. I want everybody to start praying for a white christmas PLEASE. In sacrament meeting my district sang the musical number Bliv Kvar hos Mig, Det Afton Är (abide with me, tis eventide) and it was sooooo good! It's such a beautiful song, especially in swedish! For sunday night devotional we had BYU Men's Chorus and they were awesome! 

Monday, December 15
We did service and cleaned out the bathrooms in our big meeting building. The MTC is probably the only place in the world where the men's room is bigger than the women's room.  The elders could probably fit a few couches in their bathroom if they wanted to. My district made a goal to speak only swedish on mondays and thursdays and let me tell you, it's hard.  It definitely showed me how much I can say in swedish, and that was really cool, but I also realized how much I still don't know! We invited Nilla to be baptized as well.  She knows the church is true and she wants to get baptized but she said no because her family is all catholic and she's worried about what they would think.  We're working on that. 

Tuesday, December 16
I got my hair trimmed and it feels so good to not have all those split ends! We taught Haydar and invited him to be baptized and he was all in!! He asked if he could be baptized before saturday! We've gotta get him into an appointment with the bishop, but I couldn't be happier for him! Even though the investigators aren't real I love seeing the difference between when we first started teaching Haydar and last night when we invited him to be baptized. I'm so excited to get to sweden and help people realize that they are children of God and there is hope for them!  Our tuesday devotional was awesome.  Per G. Malm of the seventy spoke to us and he's from SWEDEN!!! It was such a great devotional! He talked a lot about the gathering of Israel and preparing for the second coming through missionary work.  After the devotional we were able to meet with him and some of his children and grandchildren for a few minutes.  The three grandkids that were there were named Phillip(10), Klara(9), and Gustav(7). They spoke such good swedish I was like, "I'm sorry I'm totally slaughtering your beautiful language." They were just the cutest kids ever!! And Per G. Malm was awesome too! He came and chatted with us for a little and I seriously love the guy.

Wednesday, December 17
Today we moved from our residence in 17M to 3M.  The mass exodus was brought about by the construction happening right next to our building.  Our new roommates are the two dutch sisters! We got assigned to clean the temple on new years eve!!! I'm so excited! I keep thinking about what dad said about cleaning the chandeliers in the DC temple :) We also got asked to participate in the workshop for new missionaries tonight called People and You Purpose. It was the highlight of my first week here (when we met Chad the atheist) and I'm so so so happy to be able to do it again!! 

Finally, I have some really awesome news for you guys :) The MTC tries to make holidays really special, and up until this week we thought we weren't going to be able to talk to our families on Christmas... BUT: I will be able to call home on Christmas Day between 3:15 and 5:15 and talk to you guys for 30 minutes :) I'm so excited to let you hear my swedish!! I'm so excited to talk to you! I think I'm going to call mom's cell phone, that way if ya'll are out of the house (like at grandma's or grandpa's or something) I can still reach you :) 30 minutes isn't a very long time, but it's a great christmas present from the MTC! 

I Love you sooo much!!! Har en bra veckor!!
Love, Syster Brink

 ^dear mom, here's a nice picture of me where you can see my name tag <3^
 ^a really bad picture of the district. Red eyes all around^
 ^Ben's last day at the MTC!^
^and here's a thumbs up^

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Svårt Vecka

This week has been harder than the others, but we have still found ways to have fun and enjoy the work.  Last week was the first week we've been here and had new missionaries come in, so S. Giles and I decided to make it really memorable for them.  We got our lunch and ate it back at the residence on the couches there.  We pulled them up in front of the elevator and sat there holding a christmas tree and a camera and every time someone came up we'd take a picture and shout "WELCOME TO THE MTC!!!!" It was seriously so great! 

We were able to go to the temple last week and it's so cool to go as a missionary.  Knowing that there are so many people praying for you and for the work is so amazing.

I got the christmas tree you sent meee!!! I strung the lights above my bed and they make me soooo happy!! 

On thursday S. Smith (my roommate, S. Adamson's comp) decided she needed to go home.  She's been struggling with health issues and thought that going on the mission would bless her and help her overcome those trials but she was having a hard time.  She'd been praying about it for weeks and finally felt at peace with her decision to leave.  We went to go and pick her up from the health clinic and they directed us to the district office and that's when we knew that she had made her choice.  We were all pretty heartbroken, our district has become so close and sending S. Smith home is like losing a member of the family.  Needless to say it was a pretty tearful day. 

We dropped S. Smith off at 5:30 am on Friday.  Our whole district got up and went with her to the travel office.  Ä. Simonson gave her a blessing before she left (his first one!!! it was really simple but sooo good).  It was really hard to see her leave and my heart was broken, but I know she's gonna get the help she needs and she'll return to the mission when she's better.  Even up until she left she was doing everything she could to be the best missionary she could be and I'm so proud of her!!

So now I am in a tri-panionship.  Nobody told us exactly what would happen after S. Smith left, so S. Giles and I kind of absorbed S. Adamson.  Tri-pan is hard.  I'm not going to lie.  S. Giles and I had a really good thing going and our flow kind of got messed up when we added a third member to our lessons.  It's hard going places because we'll get together and be ready and then remember we have a third person.  It's been an adjustment, but I know it's gonna be for the best!  Blessings come from challenges!

On friday night there was a special dinner for the branch president's and their wives and the missionaries in the choir surprised them with the closing song Silent Night.  It was seriously so cool to be there and sing for them! I was able to stand right at the front with S. Giles and S. Bateman.  We were right in front of the MTC Presidency.  The spirit there was amazing!!!

Saturday was a hard day for me.  I just felt spiritually exhausted and I couldn't get myself to focus on our lessons, or language, or the scriptures.  Also, on saturday some of the elders in our zone got called down to the district office.  Apparently they were stealing silverware (we stopped after the fork chandelier on the 1st week) and they got caught.  In total they returned over 1000 spoons, knives and forks.  Like... what?  How did they get so much silverware in only 2 1/2 weeks? 

My first fast sunday as a missionary was great! Ä. Larson got called as the new ZL so that's way cool! He'll do great!  The Dutch districts left this week so we heard a LOT of dutch testimonies on sunday! Gonna miss those dutchies!!! We also watched the 1st presidency christmas devo and Joseph Smith- Prophet of the Restoration.

Our lessons with our investigators this week have been nothing short of awful.  The flow in the tri-pan is so hard to figure out.  BUT. We think we're finally getting through to Haydar and he feels like he can repent and talk to heavenly father now (!!!!!) so we're feeling good about that. We shared a song with him yesterday, Where Can I Turn for Peace and I KNOW he felt the spirit.  There's no way he couldn't have, it was soooo perfect!

S. Bateman and S. Gardner went to the dentist on monday and Aunt Denita was the receptionist!!! SO I got this cute picture from her :) I love being able to hear from home and family so often!!!

Mr. Melville (freedom elementary principal) is in a Branch Presidency here for the Poles and the Macedonians! How cool right? So I said hi to him the other day!!

Erik Kaochusaret (?) stopped by my class the other day and brought Elliot, his little bear that he drives with haha :) It was way good to see him! I think he put a picture up on facebook so you'll have to check that out!

Last night we had a member of the seventy come for devotional.  He gave the best devotional yet.  I seriously loved his message sooo much!! I don't know if you can look it up, but his name was W. Craig Zwick and it was great!!! 

Elder Ahlander leaves on monday! How crazy is that?! I'm gonna miss seeing him between study times and teaching each other little phrases in swedish and polish.  So excited for him to get out in the field though! He's been here for 9 weeks and I can't even imagine having to be here that long! Thank goodness swedish is a relatively easy language.

--------------------Answers to Questions and other Random things---------------------

My P-day is wednesday and we go to the temple after lunch.  It's totally 100% illegal and against MTC rules for you to try and visit me.  If we just happen to see each other that's okay but please don't make a trip out of it :) Also, hugging any guy is outlawed, even if they are family. 

We've only been able to go to the temple once since being here but we're going today.  We did a session last week but S. Giles hasn't ever done sealings so I think we'll do those today.

My district is really good at the Ray Romano voice and we've started yelling DEBORAHHHH!!! to get each other's attention/find each other in the noisy cafeteria.  If anyone asks we just say we're yelling "DET ÄR BRA!!!" which means "THAT IS GOOD!" in swedish hahaha

Brother Whitworth is going to have his first kid this summer!!! They find out the gender in about a week or two! SO EXCITING!!!

You know those tough guy snaps the characters do on westside story? My district walks in formation and we'll do that sometimes when we go to lunch or on our way back to class.  It is seriously sooo funny!

Singing Cheetah Girls songs in the shower is the ultimate way to relieve stress.  I'm surprised more people don't do it.

That's all for this week!!! I'll be sending pictures soon! be on the lookout!
Love, Syster Brink :)

^ both these pictures we are waiting for the new sisters from last week! They were so surprised!!! The elevator is literally 4 feet in front of us^

^This was the night before sister smith went home^

 ^The awkward family christmas picture...


^These are actually from today.. I'm a cat...^

 ^We look really great cuz its 5:30 am.  This was the day sister smith went home^

 ^Tri-panionship, we decorated the door the other day^

 ^This is why I wasn't a flyer in high school^

^tri-pans are fun^

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Thanksgiving Last Week

This week has been crazy and so much has happened!!! I'm so happy to get your dearElder letters and packages! They make my day :)

So Thanksgiving was great! We had a full schedule with a devotional starting at 9 am.  There were a lot of rumors going around about who would be speaking (because it was a holiday we knew it would be someone big) but we didn't find out for sure until the devotional started.  David A. Bednar!!!! It was seriously sooooo good!!! He didn't just give a normal talk either, he did a Q&A session! It was way cool because I've heard he's done that kind of thing before, and it was awesome to be there for it!  They passed out cell phones to all the missionaries and we texted him our questions. So the only text I've sent while I was a missionary was to Elder Bednar.  He wasn't able to answer my question, but I asked him "do apostles and prophets follow the same kind of schedule as missionaries? Describe a day in the life of an apostle."

After that we had a thanksgiving lunch with turkey, potatoes, stuffing, the works.  Missed the pretzel salad though :( Then we had a short thanksgiving program where some of the missionaries played some awesome musical numbers.  This one elder had to be a child prodigy or something cuz his violin solo was AMAZING.  Also I got to see some family on thanksgiving!!!! They showed a vid of the MTC choir that sang in conference and I got to see Justin! So that was really awesome!!! :) 

We also did a humanitarian project that night.  We basically made bags of lentil soup and my job was to weigh the bags and scoop out lentils if it was too heavy. It almost goes without saying that I never want to see another lentil again.

Then we watched meet the mormons! Yay! So happy to see that again :) After the movie the MTC presidency was like, "we have a surprise for you! go look at the courtyard!" so we went outside and it was all lit up like temple square!!! SO PRETTY!!! I love having a mini temple square to look at every night!

ALSO, our investigator Isabel is now our teacher!!! Her name is actually Sister Faux. She got back from her mission about 4 months ago and she's adorable! It kind of threw me off for a little while because we know things about Isabel that aren't actually about Sister Faux.  We got a new investigator, his name is Haydar (High-dar) and he's from Iran. 

I ended up sharing my mission story with some of the elders from my district, and as I shared it more and more people started coming and listening so by the end of the story we had maybe 15 people in our classroom. I just wanted them to know that even though things might be rough and it might feel like Heavenly Father isn't answering your prayers, he is and he always will. Sometimes he works on things and it takes a little while, but once you get your answer it couldn't be more right.

We also took a little time during personal study to share all our favorite scriptures with each other. It was so great!!! 

There was one day this week were the food was almost completely inedible.  They had this nasty sandwich that was basically frozen turkey slices with nacho cheese and bacon.  Elder Simonson got the sandwich and the poor guy had to make himself eat it so he wouldn't be hungry in class.  It was seriously so gross and he was trying so hard to eat it.  He gave up because his stomach just couldn't handle it.

Sherri Dew came and spoke at Relief Society and that was awesome!! She spoke about the role of women in the church and women in the preisthood and it was way cool :) Also at the sunday night devotional we had Vocal Point come (I can just see how jealous harrison is right now) and they sang all these different songs including Nearer My God to Thee.  During the devotional I found myself sitting next to a sister missionary FROM SWEDEN!!! She'll be serving in the temple square mission and she's adorable! Her little swedish accent got me so excited to get out of the MTC!!

Heather Kofford left the MTC on monday afternoon. She's been here for about 11 weeks so she was pretty excited to pack her bag! I got a picture with her on her last day! Gonna miss seeing her around here but I'm so pumped for her letters from Tahiti!!!

On monday we decided to mess with Brother Whitworth a little bit and everybody came to class with middle parts.  We all looked so horrible, I wish I would have gotten a picture!!!! That night we also taught Haydar for the first time.  It was very different from teaching Isabel because Haydar just kind of sat back in his seat and looked at us with this blank face.  We did the lesson unscripted and only used our bullet point lesson plan.  I'll admit, it was much harder than the other lessons because he had questions about the atonement that we didn't know how to answer in swedish.  It was a little bumpy, but when we got to the part about prayer he got so excited! Being a muslim he had to say the same prayer 5 times everyday and he was so excited to pray to God and thank him for everything! He was soooo happy when we told him he could thank Heavenly Father for his girlfriend Karolina, it was so cute :)

There's this one Elder in the other Swedish district that seriously makes me laugh everyday and he totally reminds me of Cole Olsen. He wears these crazy socks and sweater vests and he's seriously so strange. We totally would have been friends before the mission! The other day he was in our classroom quoting Nacho Libre and it made me think of Makayla!

Well, this week has been packed and I'm so happy to be a missionary!! On one of the days we had a little bit of time so our district got on the computers to watch some mormon messages. If you haven't seen the new christmas video titled "He is the Gift" now is the time to see it!!!! #ShareTheGift! It was so good! And new mormon messages are like a really big deal here at the MTC

Hej då!!!
Syster Janessa Brink

 ^elder simonson's cold turkey, nacho cheese, bacon sandwich^
 ^Sister Kofford and I on thanksgiving^
 ^thanksgiving picture with the family^
 ^we love drawing on the board^
 ^sister giles and I have the same exact shirt^

 ^We did a temple walk on thanksgiving, these are all the swedish sisters^
 ^district peace sign picture^
 ^this asian guy was really excited about our peace sign picture and wanted to be in it^
^thanksgiving temple day^

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Week 1!!! Hejsan! - November 26, 2014

I cant believe it's already been a week at the MTC!! The days are long but the weeks are so short! I have been learning so much and have had so much fun! So, I'll just try to start with where I left you guys at the curb!

The sister that hosted me took me into the MTC to get my nametag and my other important things.  As I was walking out I ran into Heather Kofford!!! I almost started bawling, its SO GOOD to see her again! She ended up taking over as host for me and we caught up as best as we could in the short amount of time we had together.  She took me to my residence and then dropped me off in my class room where my teacher Bröder Marchant was.  

He would only speak to us på svenska so that was kind of interesting but I understood almost everything he said! (hooray for rosetta stone!!!) My companion is Syster Giles, shes from Manhattan beach CA and is a professional surfer.  She goes to competitions and was sponsored by Neff until she decided to go on her mission.  She and I get along really well and we have the greatest times together! I'm seriously so happy I got a companion that's normal and can laugh with me!

We have been teaching this investigator named Isabel.  She's adorable and she's seriously the nicest person.  Even with all the language mistakes and dumb things we've done she's always just been really nice about it.  
Language mistake #1) I was trying to explain that the Holy Ghost was the 3rd member of the godhead and we didn't have the word for Godhead in our svenska till engleska dictionaries so I just used the words for god and head.  But I accidentally used the word for head as in on your body head and told her the Holy Ghost was God's 3rd head. And she's all, "Vad?" Oh it was bad! hahah :) and then in another lesson we were going to have her read a verse from the bible and we look around and we realized we forgot to bring the bible with us!!! So I'm all, "Har du en bibel?" And she's like, "Nej...." so we're like, "Vi vill kommer tillbacka in tre minuter..." and had to literally sprint up the stairs to get our bible because that verse was so vital to our lesson! So embarassing!! Never again will I forget to bring my bible!!!  But then we were teaching after that and we said, "Jesus Christ has a plan for us, do you want to see it?" and she's like, "Yeah I totally want to see it!!!" so we taught her the plan of salvation totally unscripted! It was very watered down because we don't know a lot of words yet but the spirit was there and we could all feel it! She is learning so much and I'm so excited for her!!!

Also they have us do service projects here.  On Sat. S. Giles and I got assigned to clean out the showers and we were pulling all this nasty hair out of the drain.  It was so gross!! There must have been a lot of polynesian sisters on that floor because the hair was thick, long and dark *Bleh* It was like The Ring!!!!  

There's this elder in our zone going to Iceland.  He's actually the ZL.  We found out on like the 2nd day that he's obsessed with forks. Like he literally gets 5 forks for every meal and takes the extra ones back to his residence.  We don't really know what he does with them or why he's got this fork fetish but S. Giles and I decided we wanted to fuel the obsession.  So after the temple walk on Sunday we went a little klepto... We stole 100 forks in two days and made the Icelandic elder a present.  At first we were just going to give him a whole bunch of forks and then it escalated into wrapping the forks individually and giving them to him everyday and then it escalated again into a fork chandelier.  So S. Giles and I made this (prison craft) fork chandelier.  We used a wire hanger, dental floss, a shoelace, and 100 forks.  I have a picture of his face when he saw it.  Pure joy and amazement.  He loves it!!! (how was your first week in the MTC? Oh it was fine, I just made a chandelier out of forks...)

S. Giles and I got sucked into a wormhole/timewarp the other day.  It was like 8:45 and we decided to shower before everybody got back from gym and the line got super long.  When we were getting ready S. Adamson and S. Smith (our roommates) walk in and we're like, "how was gym?" and they're like, "we havent been yet, it hasn't started." and we're like, "what time is it?" and they're all, "Its 8:30" it was the weirdest thing and literally through us off all day. 

DALLIN H. OAKS AND HIS WIFE CAME FOR DEVOTIONAL LAST NIGHT AND WE HAD GREAT SEATS.  It was seriously so amazing! Sister Oaks was great and then when Elder Oaks spoke I literally couldn't stop writing! It was so good!!!!

Swedish hymns are beautiful.  Forks are really heavy. My district is awesome and we have so many great jokes. The language is coming along well. Our teachers are great. I've taken so many pictures already and its only been 1 week. It was S. Giles's first time seeing snow this week.  We met Thomas S. Monson's nephew at the temple on sunday and he told us about his great grandpa who served in sweden.  Hotpockets cause issues with stomach lining (sister giles, not mine.) Sister Giles literally drinks 8 bottles of juice everyday. The food is disgusting but we can't stop eating it. 20 birds flew into our window during class on friday and it was hilarious :) elders are still boys. 

MTC life is underbar (wonderful) and I'm so happy to put on my name tag every morning at 6:30 a.m.  We are living on holy ground here at the MTC and it's the only place where we will ever do that in our lives. The spirit is always the 3rd member of our companionship. We have Christ on our side and we love it so much! I don't want you guys to miss me, not even on thanksgiving, because we are being blessed so so so much here I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. Please keep us in your prayers because we pray for you every single day IN SWEDISH. We love you all so much! 

I love you guys so much!!! Have a great week!
Love, Syster Brink :)

^We are the best companionship ever!!!!^

^these are all the new swedes!! in the back is Äldste Linchenko, Äldste Scott, Äldste Moody, Äldste Simmonson, Äldste Larson, and Äldste Backman.  Then all of us sisters are Syster Bateman, me, Syster Gardiner, Syster Irene, Syster Stoughton, Syster Smith, Syster Giles, and Syster Adamson^

^this is my district^ Äldste Larson, Äldste Simmonson, Äldste Moody, Äldste Backman, me, Syster Giles, Syster Adamson, och Syster Smith.

^this is what the fork chandelier looked like when we made it^


^He literally can't believe this, he's so happy^

^this is the only picture we got of the chandelier! Syster Adamson had told us to be quiet so she could sleep and we were trying so hard to not fall apart. It was only 10:45ish. We were laughing so hard! that thing was so heavy and super loud!!! (Don't worry, S. Adamson got plenty of sleep) We hid it in my closet until we could give it to the Elder the next day^

 ^My district is seriously so fun! S. Gile's aunt sent us all some rice crispy treat things^

(I am missing eight pictures from this email post.  They never loaded correctly.)

Monday, November 24, 2014

This letter was written on November 19, 2014. The day she entered the MTC. We found it in the mail box today! :)

Hey Family!!

It's the end of the 1st day and it's been so good!  Missionary life is the best life I AM CONVINCED.

Today we had language study and I kind of understood what the teacher was saying but not 100% so hooray for Rosetta stone! :)

My companion is adorable and I seriously love her so much already!!  We spent dinner quoting Nacho Libre and we got hot pockets after devotional tonight.  Her name is Tanner Giles but first names are a thing of the past at the MTC so everyone here is sister or elder.  She's from Manhattan Beach, California.  She's 19 (since June).  She graduated high school when she was 15 and has been going to Pepperdine since.  I don't know how I got so blessed to have this genius child as my companion but I am so happy! :)

We had this class today where a giant group of missionaries (like maybe 100) taught an investigator.  I'm not 100% sure they're real investigators but you can still feel the spirit.  There was this one man we taught named Chad.  He's an atheist and we're trying to get him to com unto Christ and accept him as his Savior.  I raised my hand and taught him a little about priesthood power in the bible with prophets like Abraham and Moses & Jesus Christ.  I told him the same priesthood they held is still on the earth today with our modern day prophets.

Then a little later Sister Giles asked him about his talent in playing the piano and told him she was blessed with the same talent.  She said she feels the spirit when she plays because she knows who that talent comes from and she asked if he ever felt anything when he played.  And he said he did.

So then I followed up and asked him if he'd ever tried praying to Heavenly Father and thanking him for that talent.  He said he hadn't and I was so scared to ask him my next question but the spirit prompted me to.  So I asked if he would mind praying right then.  And the spirit in the room was so thick you could cut it with a knife!  He said he didn't feel comfortable praying right then but that he would do it later tonight!  Sister Giles and I went and introduced ourselves formally afterwards and we set up an appointment for us (only us!! so excited!) to teach and follow up with him.  :)  First day and we've already go t an appointment!

So just letting you guys know that I am totally great!  Don't cry anymore about me being away from home because being a missionary has made me happier in the last 11 hours than I’ve ever been before!!  The spirit is a constant feeling here and I feel so blessed to be in God's hands while I serve!  I'll be sure to send you pictures on Wednesday!

Love, Sister Janessa Brink

Monday, November 10, 2014

Farewell Talk

As you all know, I’ve been called to serve as a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and I’ll be serving in the Sweden Stockholm mission.  I’ll be speaking Swedish and living on the other side of the ocean, in a country that is partly in the Arctic Circle, and I couldn’t be more excited! I’m leaving my family for 18 months so that others can have the opportunity to be with theirs for eternity.
There are people in the world who don’t understand the importance of the family in God’s eternal plan.  They don’t know that they will see their loved ones after death.  Because of this and in order to state the church’s views on marriage and family, the first presidency released an article in 1995 titled The Family: A Proclamation to the World.  In this proclamation, church leaders boldly state that the family is ordained of God and that marriage between a man and a woman is ESSENTIAL to his eternal plan.  They go on to state that children are entitled to birth into a home where the father and mother are married and committed to each other. 
The family is the foundation of God’s plan for his children.  So it isn’t really surprising that it is so attacked in today’s society.  Those supporting the sanctity of marriage solely between a man and a woman are accused of being closed-minded or behind the times.  Even though national leaders are beginning to justify and legalize same-sex marriage we remember that man’s laws are not God’s laws.  To speak very plainly Heavenly Father gave Adam and Eve a commandment to multiply and replenish the earth, a commandment that is still in place today.  Natural law, God’s law, requires offspring to have parents, one mother and one father, and that law is something the LDS church will not change or apologize for.  Neil L. Anderson said, “ While many governments and well-meaning individuals have redefined marriage, the Lord has not.  In the very beginning, God initiated marriage between a man and a woman—Adam and Eve.  He designed the purposes of marriage to go far beyond the personal satisfaction and fulfillment of adults to, more importantly, advancing the ideal setting for children to be born, reared, and nurtured.  Families are the treasure of heaven.”
A couple weeks ago we had our ward primary program where the kids sang this really awesome song just as loud as they possibly could and to be honest I almost cried a little during it. With tiny voices at full volume they sang:
 “Our Father has a family, it’s me! It’s you all others too we are His children.  He sent each one of us to earth through birth to live and learn here in families.  A father’s place is to preside, provide, to love and teach the gospel to his children.  A father leads in family prayer to share their love for father in heaven.  A mothers purpose is to care, prepare, to nurture and to strengthen all her children.  She teaches children to obey, to pray, to love and serve in the family.  I’ll love and serve my family and be a good example to each family member.  And when I am a mom or dad, so glad, I’ll help my family remember:  God gave us families to help us become what He wants us to be, this is how He shares His love, for the family is of God.” 
And holy cow the spirit was there.  The Holy Ghost testifies of spiritual truth and in that moment he testified that the words these kids were singing were true.  It’s part of Heavenly Father’s plan that we are put into families, because they help us become something great.  We don’t reach the celestial kingdom on our own.  We get there through temple ordinances that seal families together for eternity.  God loves us, so He gave us families to help us through this life and eternity. 
I am extremely blessed to have been raised by MY parents.  Like Nephi, I was born of goodly parents.  I remember being maybe 4 or 5 years old kneeling beside my “big kid bed” with my mom.  She would say “Dear Heavenly Father,” and I would repeat it.  To this day I sometimes say the phrase “bless my aunties and uncles and cousins” because that was a part of every simple prayer I said as a child.  I remember sitting on the floor in the family room with my dad a few years ago, stressed out of my mind because I had friends making detrimental choices and the weight of those decisions were starting settle on me as I empathetically listened to the things that had happened to them.  And we just sat there on the ground with our backs against the couch and talked it out until nearly 2 in the morning.  We talked about everything, and by the end of the night I was relieved at the weight that had been lifted from my shoulders.  “Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live.”  I am really grateful that I have younger siblings because with me leaving I know my mom would fall apart if she weren’t able to teach the importance of laundry sorting to somebody.  Same thing goes for my dad but about cars and painting the house and gardening and stuff like that. 
I am going on a mission.  And I would not be able to do it without the support and encouragement I have received from my family.  I’m not going on this mission for myself.  If I were going for myself I would have probably given up a while ago, when I was having nightmares about receiving my mission call.  I was really excited to speak on the family today because that is the whole reason I have decided to serve.  And it took me a really long time to make that decision because I wanted to be sure it wasn’t just something I wanted to do.  I wanted to be sure that it was a part of God’s plan for me.  I had prayed about it and listened intently to conference this spring hoping to get some sort of answer.  I received my patriarchal blessing, one of the most amazing blessings I’ve ever been given, but it didn’t explicitly say that I was going to be called to serve a mission.  I went on a church history trip this summer, hoping to receive some answers to the prayers and questions I’d had for months. 
 I got really serious about the mission on this trip, and in the first week we went to the Whitmer farm where the church was organized, the first three general conferences were held, the three witnesses saw the plates, and the first sacrament meeting happened.  It was amazing to be there in the place where the church had its humble beginning.  At that time there were only about 60 members.  We talked about missions, and all the places the gospel had been taken since the Whitmer farm: Chile, Japan, Guatamala, South Africa, Russia, Australia.  I went off on my own knelt in a field at the farm asking Heavenly Father if I was someone He needed to take His gospel to His other children in the world and He told me to wait.  And I said, “Well I’ve need to get my schedule into BYUI so I’d really like to know now.” And He said, “Wait.”  At that point I got kind of impatient with him and said, “I’ve pretty much been waiting since January.”  And he said, “wait.”  So I asked Him, “How can I sit here on this sacred ground where the church was organized and everything started, feeling the way I do, knowing what I know about the gospel and loving my savior the way I do? How can I not serve a mission right now and tell everyone about this?” and He again replied, “wait.” So I waited.  And I’m not the most patient person so waiting was hard.
The next day I asked again while sitting in the Sacred Grove.  I poured out my heart to Him in prayer and told Heavenly Father all my fears and desires.  He still didn’t tell me if I was going to serve a mission or not but I suddenly felt this overwhelming peace that whatever happened to me I would be all right.  He would look after me and take care of me, I just needed to trust Him. 
About a week later I was standing on the banks of the Susquehanna River.  The priesthood was restored there and we were having a testimony meeting.  I listened to the testimonies of others and felt the Holy Ghost when I suddenly felt a different spirit that I didn’t recognize at first.  It took me a moment to realize that the spirit belonged to my Grandpa Everett, who passed away before my parents had even met each other.  You have to know that nearly every story I have heard about my Grandpa was how he magnified his calling as a priesthood holder.  He made sure he was always worthy of the power he held.  He knew that he was trusted with a great gift.  And he was there at that time to tell me how important this power was to him, and to our family.  He wanted me to know that I shared responsibility to ensure that that power was always a part of our family. 
After the testimony meeting I knelt by the waters edge and started to pray.  I thanked Heavenly Father for allowing me to share that special moment with my grandpa and then before I knew what I was saying I asked Him to help me prepare for a mission.  At that moment I was so excited and nervous because from that from that day on I knew I wouldn’t be looking back. 
The reason I’m sharing this story is because my family has played a massive role in my decision to serve.  The proclamation to the world says: The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally. 
            When I opened my call and read that I was going to the Sweden Stockholm mission I knew that there was nowhere else in the world more perfect for me.  My grandpa, whom I am connected to through the sealing power of the priesthood, has ancestors in Sweden who’s work is not done.  The information we have for them is so incomplete that virtually all we know for sure is that they come from Sweden.  I don’t know everything, but in the past few months I have been shown small glimpses of God’s plan for me.  He told me to wait while I was at the Whitmer Farm because He knew that within ten days I would be at the Susquehanna River, where I would best understand the presence of my grandpa and the importance of the priesthood to our family.  And then two months later it would all connect back together because I have been called to serve in a place where we have family without the gospel.  IN THE PREMORTAL REALM, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshipped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize their divine destiny as heirs of eternal life.” 
I know that God has a beautiful, complex plan for each of us, and part of that plan is that we build families and family relationships in Christ-centered homes.  He loves us and gave us families to reach our highest potential.  I know that Christ lives and is the true redeemer and Savior of the world.  He restored the gospel through Joseph Smith, that each of us can have the opportunity to come unto Christ and be saved by His atonement.  To the world I am nobody of particular importance.  To the world I am a very ordinary person.  But I know that God is looking out for me, He is the source of miracles and by His power I can create miracles.  In Alma 26:36-37 Ammon said, “Now if this is boasting, even so will I boast; for this is my life and my light, my joy and my salvation, and my redemption from everlasting wo.”  “Now my bretheren, we see that God is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in; yea, he numbereth his people, and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth.  Now this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea, and I will give thanks unto my God forever.”  I love this gospel and the joy it has brought to my life.  I am so excited to bring that same joy to the Swedish citizens.  I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.