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 :)^

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