Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Crazy Week

Hey Everyone!
This week has been crazy with both good and bad things.  It was a really hard day on Wednesday and I will be sending home my journal today in a package so those who know my parents or contact my parents can hear about some things that are a little more personal that I would rather not have online.  Thursday was really great though!  We had a Zone Conference (the last one for President and Sister Jergensen).  I had interviews with President Jergensen and we talked about some of the trials that have been happening but also about applying the Atonement into the situation.  I hadn't ever really thought of it before Thursday that the Atonement is what makes trials easier and worth it.
For those of you who aren't familiar with the word Atonement it all goes back to our knowledge of the Plan of Salvation.  Life began with our Father in Heaven, most refer to Him as God.  He created our spirits.  We lived with Him and things were great but we had come to a point where we could no longer progress. He created a plan in which we would come to this place called Earth and go through things that were hard, things that hurt, but also things that were wonderful and would bring us joy.  When we came to the Earth we would receive bodies of flesh and blood that were created after the image of God.  We would be placed into family units that would support us, that, if we relied on the Lord, would help us to eventually return to live with our Heavenly Father again.  The one stipulation to this plan was that in order to return to live with our Heavenly Father, we would need to be clean and pure, without sin, without spot so that we could return to His presence.  This wasn't possible without a Savior.   Jesus Christ volunteered to do Heavenly Father's will.  He volunteered to come to earth, not sin, and still suffer for all of our sins, pains, sicknesses, everything.   He did so in the Garden of Gethsemane and it continued on as He hung on the cross at Calvary.  It was there that He felt the ultimate pain of Heavenly Father's spirit leaving Him without direction and without any feeling of hope when He stated, "My God My God, Why hast Thou forsaken Me?" (Matthew 27:46 in the New Testament of the Bible).  Through this atonement, He, Jesus Christ, made it possible for us to be forgiven of our sins and missteps.  He made it possible for us to be cleansed from that and through this atonement, we can return to live with our Father in Heaven.  
Everyone here on earth chose this plan.  They had to in order to receive a body.  Often times, the premortal life is not something that we remember, however, parts of it can be brought to our remembrance.  When we teach people about the Plan of Salvation, when we teach about the Restoration, or Gospel of Jesus Christ, or any of the things that we as missionaries teach, it is not new information.  It is information that through time, will be brought to their remembrance through the Holy Ghost.
During Zone Conference we talked about the hastening of the work and about the importance of being a righteous representative of Jesus Christ as a missionary.  We talked about the atonement and about repentance.  We talked about a lot of things but the most important thing to me was not something that was talked about as a group but something that was very personal and came to me through the Holy Ghost.  I have been called to succeed and not to fail. Jesus Christ did not just come to earth to give us the directions to go back to our Father but rather, He came to the earth so that He personally can bring us back to the Father.  In order for Him to bring us back, He has to be coming with us.  He is here, He is with us and He will help us every step of the way, we just have to ask for the help.  He is the way, the truth and the life.  No man comes to the Father but by Him (John 14:6).  He is there with us and He will always be there for us, every step of the way, especially when times get hard.
Anyway, I love you all!  It has been  rainy and stormy all week but I am safe and things are going well.  Feel free to write me at any time.
8515 Douglas Ave Ste 19
Urbandale IA, 50322

Love,
Hermana Bricker



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Monday, May 20, 2013

NAUVOO Temple!!!

I loved going to see this beautiful temple and going inside was even better!!! Strive to reach the goal of getting to the temple and once you get there, go often!!



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Miracles!!!

Many miracles took place this week. The sad thing is, most of them I can't put in here because they contain a lot of personal details but the power of prayer works.  For those of you who were't aware, I was able to attend the Nauvoo Temple this past Saturday and it was amazing!!!  I was able to do a session at the temple(for those of you who aren't familiar with this term, I am not completely sure how to describe it or what I feel comfortable putting online so I recommend asking your local bishop or branch president aka leader of the local LDS chapel or a friend who is strong in the church).  Normally when you are going because it is a recent converts first time (my companion's recent converts first time going to the temple)  you simply assist in the baptistry area however because the 4 sisters who are serving in Ottumwa also had a recent convert there my companion paired up with another sister so they could help in the baptistry and I was able to go on temporary exchanges with another sister and do a session.  I needed that so badly!  Heavenly Father knew that I needed it and He made it possible.  When my companion told me that the mission president had called and allowed it I almost burst into tears.  
Near the end of the session I was sitting and pondering about when the next time I would have the opportunity to enter the temple would be.  I began to get sad thinking about it but then a feeling a peace came over me as my heart was touched by the spirit.  I know that as long as I continue to be a consecrated, dedicated, and obedient missionary no matter where I stand, I will be standing in holy places and can have the same feelings that I have in the temple.
As I relayed this experience to my companion we came up with an idea to rearrange our apartment.  We will make so that one room is set aside to be like our temple room.  It will be where we go to study and it will be free from distractions and the only things in it will be inspiring gospel related pictures and our desks as well as study materials like preach my gospel or the scriptures.  It will not be a place where any clutter will be.  It will be decorated similar to the temple and it will be our escape, it will be our consecrated room that will help us remain focused and receive more guidance from the spirit even during times when we aren't allowed to attend the temple.
Last night we experience our first Tornado Watch.  The weather has been crazy and a tornado was expected to come through the area.  The sky looked crazy and I honestly got rather scared.  The tornado didn't end up touching down in Iowa at all, it touched down in Oaklahoma but the weather was really scary.  We had everything ready in a to go bag just in case we needed it.  The tornado season is upon us and I am grateful for the service opportunities it will present.  I know that obedience is key to being safe in storms like these and that the Lord will protect me and my companion as well as other missionaries as long as they are doing things according to His will and timing.
I love you all and I know that prayer works.  I know that anything can be overcome through prayer, faith, and reliance on the Lord. Temples are amazing and are places in which revelation and other gifts of the spirit are magnified.  Obedience is key to safety through the storms of the adversary.  I also know that Heavenly Father and His son Jesus Christ know us all individually on a personal level.  They know each and every one of us and they know our needs and our desires.  Often times, all we need to do is ask and act in faith in order to receive the desires of our heart.  I know that if it is a righteous desire and itis in God's plan and timing we will be granted the desires of our heart and that sometimes when you don't know you need something, whether is be a trial or a gift Heavenly Father knows that it is needed and He will grant it to you for your growth and perfection in order to come closer to Him and eventually be clean and worthy to return to live with Him.
I love you!
love,
Hermana Madison Bricker



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Monday, May 13, 2013

Service works!

Hey Everyone!!!
This past week has been such a testimony building week for me!  I had always been told that serving others does a lot more than the service its self and I never really understood that until this week.  As we went from appointment to appointment we were able to notice a lot more things that people needed help with.  We were blessed with opportunities to serve and we were able to see hearts that were once really closed off to the gospel begin to be softened and open up to opportunities where we could, through the spirit, teach correct principles or capitalize on correct principles that they already knew.
I also had the opportunity to not only speak to, but to see most of my family on SKYPE.  It was so great to see their faces along with hearing their voices and I got to see my dogs which always make me happy.  This week has been filled with so many tender mercies from God and I was just informed of another one......
On Saturday I get to go to the Nauvoo Temple with my companion because one of her recent converts is going for the first time! 
For those who know me, I love temples!  It is my place or refuge and peace.  It is the one place that I am able to completely separate myself from the hardships of the world and I am so excited and feel so honored to share in this sacred opportunity that this new member has to enter the temple.
Another thing that I learned from this week is that you get out of life what you put into it.  If you go into something thinking that it is going to be horrible, it will be.  If you go into something thinking that it will be a blast, it will be.  It is all about your attitude and you outlook on things.
Life is hard but life is great.   The hard moments in life are times of growth..  They are times where our loving Father in Heaven is refining us.  Nobody ever said that the refining process would be easy or feel good.  When silver is refined it is heated up.  It becomes pure, maleable, and strong.  When it has reached its perfectly pure form, the refiner, can see his image in the piece of silver.  We are being refined in the refiners fire.  We are being changed in a way that is painful, but that will make us stronger, purer, and able to be molded into who the Father wants us to become.  Heavenly Father is the refiner.  Allow Him so see His image in you.  Allow Him to keep you in the flames long enough that you become perfected through them.  The hardships are trying and sometimes you want to just give up, but if you hold out faithful to the end and trust in the Father's timing, you will be exhalted on high at the last day.  You will be perfected and have the privilege of returning to live in His presence.
You are love!  You are smart!  You have divine potential and it can be reached through the help of Heavenly Father and though the use of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
Love,
Hermana Bricker



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Monday, May 6, 2013

Washington Iowa Week 2

Wow! What a crazy week! I am so grateful for what has happened so far and for all of the love that this area has shown me.  Time is weird, some days it seems like they take forever and somedays seem like really short.
On Saturday we had a mission conference with  all 235 missionaries that are in our mission as well as Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder L. Whitney Clayton of the Presidency of the Seventy, Elder Edward Dube of the First Quorum of the Seventy and with Elder Michael J. Reall of the Seventy in attendance.   And we got to shake hands with all of them!  For those of you who aren't super familiar with the organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints  the prophet is the head, then the first presidency, then the quorum of the 12 apostles, then the presidency of the seventy, and then the other quorums of the 70 so these people are pretty high up there and it was great.
One thing of many that stood out to me during the mission conference was "Do you love your companion? Do you love your area?  When you do, miracles will happen"
I am so happy to hear that because I love my companion and my area.  Things are hard but so worth it and the people here are great.
The members in this branch are so great!  They all really want to help and they have been doing all they can but right now it seems like they don't know of a structured way to help.  In 2 weeks we will be doing a lesson during one of the hours of church to talk about how the members who are the permanent missionaries in the area can not only help their non member friends gain more understanding about their beliefs, but also how they can help the full time proselyting missionaries in their area with the finding, fellowshipping and retaining of the investigators and potential new members of the area.  It will be great because they are already doing a wonderful job with helping those who come feel welcome and loved and now we will be able to also increase sacrament meeting size, which has been pretty big lately which is great!  We were going over numbers and we had one week with 99 people there, we almost had a 100 day!!! We are really close to needing to open up the overflow and I know that everyone is really excited about the growth in the area.  This new program/guideline will help to increase that as well as help others who have fallen out of habit of coming return.
  This last week we had a few miracles, one of which was one of our recently inactive members who has now come to church the last 3 weeks brought a friend to church with her.  Her friend is not a member of the church but she supports her friend and it was so great!  Her friend said she wanted to learn more so we will be setting up an appointment with her soon and she even bore her testimony during one of the classes and her testimony was so strong!  It was amazing!
We also got a new car that is literally fresh off the lot, it only had 158 miles on it so it's super new and I like it a lot.
Anyway, I love you all!
love,
Hermana Bricker



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