Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Beginning of Week 4 at the MTC

Wow, it's Week 4 already! Este muy loco!

The days feel like eternity, but the weeks are gone in the blink of an eye. 

My Spanish is coming so fast it's a miracle! I can read paragraphs of Spanish now and only not know a few words. It's really nothing short of a miracle. It's funny, before my mission, I never wanted to learn spanish, and I actually went out of my way to not learn spanish, but now I want to learn to speak spanish not so that I can know another language but so I can bring people to Christ, and I'm learning it faster than ever!

But you should know Spanish is the LAST thing I'm learning. If you think that becoming fluent in another language in a few short weeks is whats taking all my time, you'll be shocked to know that's my last priority! One of our teachers gave us a great lesson one day where she didn't use any words, all she did was use pictures and her smile to convey to us her love for Jesus Christ. It was amazing how much God was able to touch our hearts during that lesson and it really showed how Spanish is our last priority. One of my other teachers said that speaking the language doesn't mean being fluent in Spanish, it just means loving the people.

Most of what we're learning here is how to teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a way that people can see and understand why they need the Savior in their lives. If we start telling someone, "We have a prophet in our day. We have the Book of Mormon, which is another Testimony of Jesus Christ." thats a history lesson and it's like, whatever. But if we tell someone, "We have a prophet in our day who gives us guidance on how to better our lives. The Book of Mormon is the word of God that will help you in every aspect of your life." Then people want to know more and start applying the gospel to their lives! 

This past week Elder Quentin L. Cook of Quorum of the Twelve spoke to us. He told us about how each of us are called on our missions: it's pretty cool, it's not a random process at all. 

I invite all of you to either invite someone to meet with the missionaries or, if you're not mormon, to invite the missionaries to your home! I promise you you won't regret it! This is the true word of God: He lives, He loves you personally and because He loves you He has a plan for you to have happiness and joy eternally, starting now, not just after this life. I know this is true! God loves all of you so much!

Merry Early Christmas!

Hermana Julie Kristen Brooks

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Week Two at the MTC

Buenos Dias Amigos y Familia! (That's Spanish for good day friends and family:)

Wow, what a crazy 2 weeks it's been. I'm technically in my third week of my mission now. Last week I didn't really get a chance to email because the day I normally would've was Thanksgiving, which is why my message last week was so scatterbrained.

The MTC is incredible! I thought, before I entered the MTC, that upon entering I was leaving the real world and entering some fantasy realm, but only a few hours into the MTC I realized that this IS the real world and I had left behind a fantasy world.

Let me explain. Before entering the MTC, I was very much in my own head. If something didn't really effect me, then I didn't particularly care. But here, it isn't about you, and you can't live as though it is, it's all about helping others and identifying what people need and how you can help them.

This is still definitely the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. It is constant work, from waking up to going to bed, so with the exceptions of meals and gym time that's about 16 hours of work a day! I thought getting up for Seminary at 5:30 AM was hard in high school, that's nothing compared to waking up at 6:30 here because you're always working!

I wouldn't trade it for anything though. You may be wondering now what I'm working on for 16 hours a day. Spanish is honestly the smallest part of that. I would say only about 15% of the time my teachers are trying to teach us Spanish, and even then that's not really their goal.

My purpose as a missionary is to invite people to come unto Christ and receive the restored Gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and his Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. I have learned that I don't need to know how to speak Spanish to invite people to come unto Christ, Spanish will only provide a way for me to do that.

One of my teachers said something that I really liked: he said that speaking their language doesn't mean being fluent, it means loving the person you're talking to.

What we've been working on the most lately is how to, from a small conversation, identify what they really want and need in life and how to teach the gospel in a way that it applies to them. For example, if someone is really concerned about their family, it's best to teach in a way that highlights how through Jesus Christ families can be together forever and live in eternal happiness. Or if someone feels alone, it's best to teach how after you are baptized, you receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and can always have the Holy Ghost to be with you to comfort you and guide you to happiness, no matter how hopeless you feel. 

What really hit me hard about this was the first day we were practicing teaching someone who was pretending to be someone interested in the church and one sister was trying to tell him about Jesus Christ and he said to her, "You don't care about me, all you want is to share your religion." It really made me realize that these are people we're teaching, not lessons.

Our teachers are so great here, and they care so much about us! A lot of times our teachers will pretend to be people who aren't members and we have to teach them, all in Spanish. (I joke that all our teachers actually have split personality disorder). We haven't taught one lesson in English.

It snowed about 8 inches on Tuesday and this morning in was 1 degree Fahrenheit outside. You might be jealous, but my companera and I constantly think of the Willie and Martin Handcart Companies while we're outside. Also Tuesday we had a speaker come and he was AMAZING! I remember afterwards our district got together and talked about what he said and everyone had a different favorite part. It was really great. 

Some pictures are attached. The one of the guys tying their ties has a bit of a story behind it. The Elders in my Zone were really envious of the way one of our teachers ties his ties, and so the picture is him teaching them. He's the one front and center.

Also there's a picture of me and my companion in the snow ;)



I am so happy to be here! This is experience is amazing and I wouldn't change it for anything for anything! I invite you all to come unto Christ! Seguira el ejemplo de Jesucristo!

Adios,

Hermana Julie Brooks


P.S.

Please send me mail! I love getting mail! There are a few ways to write me.

My email, which you hopefully have: julie.brooks@myldsmail.net
-click on Provo West MTC and send me a letter (the unit number is 880)
- Dear Elder is completely free!

And snailmail, which is 

Hermana Julie Kristen Brooks
JAN 06 MEX-MONW
2023 N 900 E Unit 880
Provo, UT 84602

That's how to get to me until January 6.
I prefer snail mail and DearE
lders

Thanks all! Love to hear from you!

Monday, December 2, 2013

First Letter from the MTC!

Hola Amigos y Familia!

Como estan? I miss you all!

This past week has been crazy and incredible. I flew out to Utah on Tuesday, where I stayed the night with my friend Gina. Gina dropped me off at the Missionary Training Center in Provo the next day. 

Well you can only imagine my surprise when right after getting my nametag and my books, they put me on a bus! That's right, I'm at the new MTC campus, the West Campus. 

West Campus is 100% Spanish speaking, which is really nice because you can speak spanish to anyone. You can't do that on Main campus, where they're learning 50 plus languages. My district consists of eight missionaries: 4 elders and 4 sisters, myself included. Four of us are from Utah, and the rest are from California, Washington, Idaho/Minnesota, and Arlington Va (Me). One was baptized about a year and a half ago.

Mi Companera's name is Hermana Hokanson (Sister Hokanson). She's from Utah and did a year of school at Utah State. We get along great! She's awesome, and I do her hair almost every day.

The MTC is absolutely insane. I can honestly say that this experience is already the hardest thing I have ever done in my whole life, and already among the most rewarding. The teachers here are so great! I can´t even begin to explain it!

Yesterday, we had Thanksgiving up at Main Campus and Elder Russell M. Nelson, one of the apostles, spoke to us! It was pretty amazing. He said that, as missionaries, our best friends should be the ward mission leader and the ward family history consultant. His wife spoke too: she said that something that really helps her is reading at least one page a day from The Infinite Atonement by Tad Callister.

Now something I know you're probably all wondering about, como esta mi espanol? Esta que bueno! Amazing! I´ll admit it, I´m not fluent, but I have learned so much Spanish since being here that it is nothing short of a miracle.

Honestly, the MTC is like bootcamp, getting ready to go out into combat (ie the mission field) and it´s so hard, but so incredibly worth it!








Sunday, November 17, 2013

One Day More

My invitations to my farewell.
Today, I gave my farewell at church. I didn't say much of what I was planning to say, but I did my best to listen to the Spirit tell me what to say. I did cry, which surprised me. I cried almost the whole time.

After church, my dad gave me a father's blessing. It was amazing and empowering! I am so grateful not just for the restored priesthood, but to have a righteous priesthood holder in my home, and for that person to be my dad. I'm so grateful that he served a mission, and now I can too. I'm so happy!

I just want to make it clear that I KNOW THIS CHURCH IS TRUE! I need to tell someone about this! That is why I'm serving a mission!

This week, I enter the Provo Missionary Training Center. I'll be a full-time missionary!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Brethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause?

Hola! Guess What??????

I have 4 weeks left! Count them! Uno, dos, tres, cautro!!!!

Unbelievable!

I guess it's time to update how I'm doing on my missionary goals:

Goal #1: Read all four standard works before my mission.


FINISHED!!!!!!!! WOOOOOOHOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The scriptures are true! I learned so much and I'm so glad I have the scriptures! They are the word of God and of infinite worth!

Goal #2: Learn Spanish


I'll admit it, I've been slacking! I need to do so much more Spanish! I honestly thought I'd never have to learn Spanish. Boy, was I wrong!

On a side note, you think about how Joseph Smith had to learn Ancient American to translate the plates, but did Moroni have to learn English before he visited Joseph Smith on September 21st, 1823? Would people like Alma, Daniel, Moses, or Aaron have to learn English in order to teach my ancestors in the Spirit World? I mean, I know Spanish will come in handy after my mission, but I really believe that great things await me, greater than I'll ever know.

Goal #3: Go to the temple!


I am now endowed! Yay!

Me after becoming endowed. 
And guess what? The second time I ever went to do a session, I did it in behalf of Filomena Fortannascere, my great great grandmother!!!!! I have no shortage of relatives I can do the work for!

On a side note, I've also done a session in Spanish. It was hard, but AMAZING!

Goal #4: Do More Family History


Yesterday, I was reading 1st Nephi 3. You all know it (or if you don't, I invite you to know it: https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/1-ne/3?lang=eng).

Remember when Nephi says "I will go and do the thing the Lord commands?" What was this thing the Lord commands? Backtrack to verses 3 and 4.

For behold, Laban hath the record of the Jews and also a genealogy of my forefathers, and they are engraven upon plates of brass.
Wherefore, the Lord hath commanded me that thou and thy brothers should go unto the house of Laban, and seek the records, and bring them down hither into the wilderness.
Seek the records! What were these records? The scriptures and his genealogy! The scripture we all love and call upon when we struggle is about being obedient to the call to seek out our genealogy (and the scriptures;)

When my dad joined the church, there were maybe two temples east of the mississippi river in the states at least. Now, temples seem to be popping up left and right! Why? 

Because it's all part of the hastening of the work! 

More people than ever are accepting the gospel on this side of the veil. 

Don't you believe that more people than ever must be accepting the gospel on the other side of the veil too? Those missionaries in the Spirit World are like ours here: their numbers are the greatest they've ever been! They're working tirelessly to bring souls to Christ! When someone accepts, they can't just "be baptized" like our investigators on our side of the veil. They have to wait for their name to reach the temple, and in many cases, they have to wait for their descendants to go and do the work for them! 

In the words of President Kimball, "It is VITAL that we serve them!"

Joseph Smith said the greatest work we could ever do was to preach the gospel. It has also been said in the church that the greatest work is to seek out our dead and bring their names to the temple! How can both of these be the greatest?

In the words of President Boyd K. Packet, "they're the same work!"

If you are despairing that you feel you can't do missionary work, you can! Talk to your friends and neighbors. In the words of Preach My Gospel, talk to everyone!

But more than that, can you imagine if you had a family member in jeopardy? What would you do to rescue them? Would you go to the ends of the earth? Would you lay down your life for them?

I think we can learn from the example of Naaman in the Old Testament. Naaman was a leper who was willing to go the ends of the earth to cleanse his leprosy. But when the prophet sent a messenger to tell him to wash in the river Jordan seven times, he was offended and he wouldn't do it. One of his servants asked him, "Naaman, if you would do something big, why won't you do something little?" Naaman was humbled and went and washed seven times in the river. He was clean.

We would often go to the ends of the earth for our children, can you imagine your ancestor wondering why you won't do a simple google search for them? Don't let them wonder.

Remember, family history work and missionary work both need to be hastened! Family History work is missionary work! There are more temples than ever because we needed to be prepared for all the people who would accept the gospel on the other side of the veil! Take your family to the temple!

Today, I had a conversation with a random stranger. His name was Carl. Carl and I are both descendants of Popke Popma and Pieterje De Beor. I found out that Carl was a convert to the church, he and his wife had served a mission, and his grandson is on a mission right now. How amazing is it that? This is the Lord's work!

Did you know that when Joseph Smith said, "Brethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause?" he was speaking in reference to baptism for the dead?

That was something I learned whilst reading all four standard works. It all fits together.

Tips From My Own Family History Research:

  1. FamilySearch & Ancestry.com vs. Google: FamilySearch and Ancestry.com tend to be more general, things like censuses, whereas doing a google search you can find a lot of websites very specific to certain areas. When you do a Google Search, type in the name of the place and "genealogy" or "family history" after it. Here are a few that have really helped me:
    • http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~itacsnf/index.html
    • http://iagenweb.org/marion/
    • http://conneautohio.us/contents.htm
  2. Talk to your relatives! They know a lot!
  3. When you can, always try to look at the original document and not the indexed file. Many times, there are things on the original document, such as occupation, cause of death, birthplace of parents, etc, that won't be on the indexed file.
  4. Many records are NOT indexed, sadly, but are online in the form of "browse images" Basically, you have to go page by page. It's tedious, but SO WORTH IT! If you are doing this, go to the back and look for an index first, many of these have some kind of index.
  5. PRAY and have HOPE! Know that when someone accepts the Gospel, God prepares a way for them to receive exaltation. The more ready your ancestor is for baptism, the easier it will be to find them!
I know this Church is True! In the name of Jesus, my Lord and Master, Amen!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Preparation Update!

So much has happened since coming home, and coming home has been better than living in Provo was. Not only do I get to see my family everyday, but I have so much more time to use to prepare to go on my mission.

First: Update how I'm doing on some of my goals.

1. Read all four standard works before I leave on my mission.

I'm in Hebrews! Almost done with the Bible!

2. Learning Spanish.

Well, this one could be going a lot better. When I first got my call, I created a Spanish Pandora station to help me learn Spanish.

But I learned something other than than Spanish. I learned I don't like Spanish music.

However, I have gone to the Spanish ward in my stake! That was a really good experience. I also gave the Spanish sister missionaries my number so I can go with them to a lesson sometime. It hasn't worked out yet, but hopefully soon!

BUT GUESS WHAT?!?!?!

So when I first got my mission call, I posted on Facebook that I was going to Mexico on my mission. AND some of my hispanic friends from high school, who I haven't talked to since high school, messaged me and were like "Hey I saw you're going to Mexico for your mission, if you need any help learning Spanish just let me know?"

How fabulous are these people?

One of them, my friend José, I told him that the Spanish I really needed to learn was the missionary discussions, and now he's taking the discussions! The Spanish Elders are teaching them and I get to be there. I try as hard as I can to understand and contribute, but I know my speech is more butchered than my hearing!

Then later, I was out with the English Sister Missionaries (which was amazing!) and as they contacted people on the streets, they started talking to this one man who really didn't speak English. Lucky for us, I brought my Spanish Preach My Gospel and another Spanish Missionary book and I did my best to teach this man about José Smith! We got his number and texted it to the Spanish Elders. I haven't had any contact with the man since, but the Elders told me he said he'd come to stake conference!

I love going out with the missionaries. They are the greatest examples to me!

3. Saving for my Mission

I haven't been able to get a job, but I've realized that babysitting I can make more money. Fortunately, I've been able to get pretty regular babysitting jobs. The kids I babysit are great and I like knowing I can help these families. One family, for example, that I babysit for has 2 kids with about 12 allergies each! Yikes! Their mom was really nervous getting a babysitter since they recently had to use an epipen, and I was like, "Don't worry, I carry an epipen. I know allergies." I guess this is the first time my peanut allergy has been a blessing to someone!

(as a side note, since with a peanut allergy you mostly have to avoid fried food and desserts, I think it's helped me avoid the dessert table at events. Dear Waistline, you're welcome. Love, Peanut Allergy)

4. The Temple

Well, I'm not endowed, yet. But I will be. I need to get my recommend and set a date.

And I'm not done reading The Holy Temple by President Boyd K. Packer yet, but I'm pretty close. His book is really good, by the way.

Even though the Washington DC temple isn't as close to me as the Provo temple was, I still try to go at least once a week. I've figured out the metro and now know how to get there (and have gotten there) by metro.

Lately, I've had much more motivation to go since I've had a Family History breakthrough!!!

My mom's family is from New York, and a month ago we didn't know anything about our ancestors from before they came through Ellis Island.

But I remembered this: I had found a passport certificate for my great great grandfather. It says the town in Italy where he was born: San Fele.

Now if you don't know anything about San Fele, there is a reason. San Fele, I've learned, is a tiny little town far off the beaten path in the center of the italian peninsula, about a 2 hour drive from Naples.

On a whim, just because I felt like doing some genealogy, I googled "San Fele Genealogy." I wasn't expecting much. This was the first result.

http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~itacsnf/index.html

Yep.

If that wasn't a miracle in and of itself, it got better! I saw a list of surnames from the town and beside it the email addresses of people with a personal interest in those surnames. I emailed the people who's addresses were listed by the surnames I knew were in my family.

I told them what I knew about my family.

My great great grandmother was named Philomena Fortnash. She was married to someone with the last name DeCarlo (don't know his first name) and had two girls. Then DeCarlo died. Philomena married Carmine Tomasulo, who was my great great grandfather. They had kids (including my great grandmother Livia Tomasulo) and then went back to Italy for some reason. While there, Philomena had their last child (Mike) and died in childbirth. Carmine came back to America and married Rose Tarangelo. They had more kids and Carmine died in 1917 of the Spanish Flu. Rose was left with all the kids from all 3 marriages. She sold flowers on the streets of New York to support herself.

So I waited for a response. And it was like, nothing, nothing, nada and then....

One person emails me back. This is what he said, I'm quoting.

I had 2 sources of information:
1. My late Aunt Joan transcribed approximately 37,000 San Fele Birth, Death & Marriage Records for 1810 to 1860. My Aunt also did the town of Marsicovetere in Potenza. She worked on the San Fele & Marsicovetere films for over 10 years. For the most part the San Fele records have been consolidated into 3 data bases that are easy for me to search. To date I have not had a chance to consolidate the Marsicovetere records into searchable data bases.
2. My 2nd source of information are scans of 1861-1929 San Fele Birth, Death & Marriage Records that LDS has on line at https://familysearch.org/search/image/index#uri=https%3A%2F%2Ffamilysearch.org%2Frecords%2Fwaypoint%2FM9Q1-D2F%3A731960087%3Fcc%3D1483052. These are slow and hard to search, but are available to any one with access to the web.
The following is what I have found on your family:

He sent me my genealogy going back to the 1700s!!!!!

But what he sent me was on Rose Tarangelo and Carmine Tomasulo. I asked him about DeCarlo and Philomena Fortnash, telling him that "Fortnash" means "strong birth" in Italian. He said "Fortnash" doesn't appear in San Fele records and gave me alternate spellings. The name DeCarlo appears about 5 times. 

Fabulous. Then again, it was pretty miraculous to find so many generations in one day!

But I wasn't satiated. I started looking through the records posted on FamilySearch.org. I had hypothesized that my great great grandmother died in San Fele, so I looked for a Philomena Fortnash. This is what I found.

Filomena Fortannascere's death certificate. It's the top right.
It was a death certificate for a Filomena Fortannascere, and her husband was Carmine Tomasulo. In addition, I found this.

Uncle Mike's birth certificate. He's the bottom left.
My great uncle Mike (Michelangelo)'s birth certificate! Carmine Tomasulo was his father, Filomena Fortannascere was his mother. This record verified the first one! I had found my great great grandmother!

From looking through these records and this gentlemen's database, I've been able to find about 200 of my ancestors and their extended families! I've taken over a hundred family names to the temple already! I was baptized and confirmed for Filomena Fortannascere! My mom did her Initiatory. I can't wait to be endowed so I can do more work for the dead.

Here is a picture of my ancestors that I'm doing the work for.

The Tomasulos.
My great-grandmother Nellie is on the bottom, second from the left. These are some of her siblings and their spouses.

And this is my great-grandmother.

Nellie Pavone.
Né Livia Tomasulo.
How amazing it is to be doing all this work!

5. Learn to play guitar.

This isn't really a mission goal, more of a personal goal. I do have a guitar and I've been practicing pretty much ever since I've gotten back from Utah. I'm not amazing, but so much better than I was. I can play the song "Pompeii" by Bastille pretty well. This is that song.

If you don't see a video, here's the link. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F90Cw4l-8NY

Well, that's what I've been up to! I can't wait to get to Mexico!


Monday, August 26, 2013

Homecoming

I'm home! I'm home!

Why am I home?

Well somewhat long story...

I was going to continue working at BYU until the end of the summer, but since I got my mission call I deferred my enrollment and they won't let me work on campus anymore. There was nothing else keeping me in Utah, so I'm home now!

I'm so excited to spend the next few months just at home! I'm going to go to Costco and Ikea and my grandma's! I'm going to have so much fun hanging out with my family!

Also, I'm going to be getting endowed soon! DC Temple! So excited. I'm reading The Holy Temple by President Boyd K. Packer to help me prepare for this! I highly recommend that book, it's amazing.

My plans right now are to find a job, work, learn Preach My Gospel, learn to speak Spanish, and finish all four standard works before entering the MTC. Short term, I need to get a passport, visa, and my vaccinations. It's going to be busy, and crazy, but I'm up for it!

I'm going to practice teaching the lessons in Spanish, or at least I'll try to speak Spanish! I didn't think Spanish would be this hard, or that I would even ever have to learn to speak Spanish! This is so crazy.

*I should've posted this a month ago. Whoops


Saturday, July 6, 2013

Plans for the next few months

Well, I don't enter the MTC until November 27th. I get Thanksgiving and Black Friday with my family and then I'm off to the MTC!

This is such a huge blessing. I have a sister, Aubree, who was born while I was at college. I had been praying for months that I could have a relationship with her. This is such an answer to my prayers. This is Aubree crawling. I'm so excited to spend three months with my baby sister. This means the world to me.

video
Essentially, I'm going to stay in Utah until the end of August and then go home until November. I get about 3 months with my family and, other than my mission of course, no distractions. This gives me time to prepare to learn Spanish and the Gospel and I get to just be with my family before leaving them for a year and a half.

Right now, I'm working on getting a passport and a visa, getting my immunizations, and trying to learn about the culture of Monterrey (which hasn't been going great, because when I google "Monterrey" it's all tourist stuff, and considering that I'm not a tourist it's fairly unhelpful).

In addition, I got Preach My Gospel, the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, Our Search for Happiness (by M. Russell Ballard), True to the Faith, Our Heritage, and Jesus the Christ (by James E. Talmage) all in Spanish!



I have a friend who speaks Spanish who is going through the Book of Mormon with me. Yesterday, I read aloud the entire first chapter of First Nephi! (or Nefi) My friend corrected my pronunciation and when I asked her what something meant, she would translate.

For example, when I would see words that repeated, a lot of times I asked her what they meant. Here are some of those.

Ay: Woe
Por tanto: Therefore
Oyó: heard

Some words, I was able to figure out. Here were some.

Sedequías: Zedekiah
Jerusalén: Jerusalem
Espíritu del Señor: Holy Spirit
Judíos: Jews

One word, I felt the Spirit tell me it was important, so I asked my friend what it meant. This was that word.

Oró. Prayer.

I love reading the scriptures! To be honest, I really don't understand it when I read it in Spanish but being so familiar with the scriptures in English has really helped.

Also, reading the scriptures out loud has helped me to learn the nature of the language. Here are some things I learned from reading aloud with my friend.
  • When a "d" is in the middle of the word, it's softer, almost a "th" sound.
  • When a "g" or a "c" is in front of certain vowels, it makes a regular sound, but in front of an "e" for example, the "g" becomes a "h" and the "c" becomes an "s."
  • "Ll" makes a "y" sound.
  • "H" is always silent
  • "Ch" makes the same sound as it does in English
  • All the vowels in Spanish only have one sound 
I've found this online resource that I've been using to help with my pronunciation.

http://www.studyspanish.com/pronunciation/

A friend of mine who speaks Spanish as his second language told me that I should focus on learning pronunciation, not vocabulary, because vocabulary will come, but if you can't pronounce something it doesn't matter what words you know.

I've also been listening to music in Spanish and I've watched How to Train Your Dragon and The Incredibles in Spanish. I haven't learned too much from that, except for how to say "NO CAPES" in Spanish (CAPES NO), but I'm going to keep up with it and hope I can learn more conversational Spanish from movies.

In addition, I've been called as a ward missionary, and my "companion" and ward mission leader both "Hablas Español." We're going to try to teach some lessons in Spanish. How much Spanish...lets just say I'll find out.

Also, I've been opening my prayers with "Nuestro Padre Celestial" and ending them with "En el nombre de Jesucristo, Amén" I can't say too much in the middle in Spanish yet, but I have faith El Señor will help me.

The Road to the Mission Call


My name is Julie Brooks. I've been called to serve as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

My road to serving a mission has been really a life long one, it definitely was not flipping on a light switch.

When I was young, I was scared of the concept of going on a mission, so I didn't want to go. Girls are not expected the same way men are to serve missions, so I didn't feel bad about it or anything.


Then, as I started to mature, I saw serving a mission differently. I think the pivotal moment was when a sister in my ward, Sister Oliphant, came home from her mission in California and gave her homecoming talk. She made me, for the first time, really want to go on a mission. I told my dad, "Now I want to go on a mission." I guess my dad told Sister Oliphant's father that because her father asked me to relay what I said to her. So I told that after I had heard her speak, I wanted to go on a mission. But I felt weird saying it, because I wasn't sure, and I was still scared.

This is what I thought I'd be like on a mission
I started to see a mission not as a year and a half away on some deserted island (see image),
but as a chance to do absolutely NOTHING but serving The Lord (El Señor). As my love for El Señor grew and I matured, I strongly desired to serve a mission, but I also really wanted to do what God wanted me to do.

I wasn't quite sure what His plan was for me. My patriarchal blessing didn't say anything specific towards serving a mission. Also, I had never felt particularly inspired that serving a mission was what I was supposed to do. So I was unsure, and I told people that I didn't know if I would, but I was leaning towards not going.

Then the Missionary Announcement happened. If you missed it, here's the video below.

If that doesn't work, here is a link: https://www.lds.org/youth/video/welcome-to-conference?lang=eng

I was with my sister Tiffany when it happened. Tiffany screamed and started crying, she was so excited. I was happy, and I was talking about starting my papers, but I still wasn't sure. When I prayed about it, I asked "God, do you want me to go on a mission or not?" I got a dark, subtle feeling of "No."

So I took the answer as No.

This wasn't easy for me. I really wanted to go on a mission. I saw so many friends and others putting in their papers and getting their calls and I just wanted to go too. I wanted my call to serve.

My parents weren't much of a help, or that's what I thought anyway. My mom didn't really care either way, but my dad and my stepmom were not happy I was not going on a mission. One time, Natalie, my stepmom, and I had the following conversation over a phone.

Me (really upset): This guy I have a huge crush on just got engaged!

Natalie: His fiancé is probably an RM. Guys like that.

Me: Thanks Natalie.

I knew it was her way of just trying to get me to go on a mission. After my Winter Semester of BYU, I had the opportunity to go home for a few days, and obviously the concept of a mission came up in our conversations.

I told my dad the Spirit told me not to go on a mission. My dad would then ask me, "Well, how did you ask? Did you follow the pattern in the scriptures?" He mentioned Doctrine and Covenants section 9, where it says:


"Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me.
But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.
But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong; therefore, you cannot write that which is sacred save it be given you from me."
I realised that my initial question, "Do you want me to go on a mission?" really didn't follow this pattern. I "took no thought save it was to ask." I started to wonder if the answer "No" was really from the Lord. The other thing that really stood out to me was that my parents, my dad and my stepmom, were active members of the church. They had stewardship over me. If someone who has stewardship over you tells you to do something, it's a good idea to at least try it.
My parents, who can receive revelation for me, were strongly encouraging me to go on a mission. I had no reason not to go, nothing was holding me back but me. 
The night before going back to Utah (I was going there to work), I prayed for about two and half hours out loud. I was in tears, telling my Padre Celestial about how much I wanted to go on a mission but I didn't want to go if it wasn't his will. I begged, pleaded, and cried. "Tell me I can go on a mission. Send me on a mission. Please, I want to go. Just tell me it's your will. Tell me that's where you want me, that's where you need me to be."
I was getting nothing but soaked cheeks and despair. I felt very alone, like no one heard me, because I heard no answer. Nothing. No change for good or for worse. I knew El Señor was there, but I wasn't getting an answer.
I got fed up with nothing. Eventually, I just said, "God, I'm going on a mission, and if you don't want me to go, then you better stop me because at this point that's where I'm going."
That's when I received an answer. My God in Heaven, Nuestro Padre Celestial, He sent His Spirit to tell me, "Okay. Go on your mission."
I was so happy. I realised that this whole time, I had not sought His will, but sought for him to tell me His will. I needed to find His will and do it. I finally sought His will, and He was happy.
I told my dad first. He needed to be the first one to know, I knew it just meant so much to him. Then I told my mom, and then my stepmom. My mom told me she was happy for me. My dad and my stepmom were in heaven. My brother Brandon, who was in Kindergarten at the time, went to school and bragged to all his friends (none of whom are LDS) about how his sister is going on a mission.
Right when I got back to Utah, I almost immediately started to meet with the bishop to work on my mission papers. I tried to get everything done as fast as I could, but it wasn't going as fast as I liked since I was new to the ward and my bishop had to talk to my last bishop and my home ward bishop before he could officially start my papers. When I finally completed them, I was able to have an interview with my stake president.
I told him about how I wanted to serve a mission. He told me, "Don't go on a mission-"
I was ready to go cry myself to sleep for the rest of my life. But then he finished his sentence.
He said, "Don't go on a mission. Be a missionary."
That was very comforting.
After my papers were submitted, I waited three LONG weeks until July 3rd.

I knew it was coming that day. On July 2nd, my roommate played this song for me.

"One Day More" from Les Miserables. Tomorrow we will see what our God in Heaven has in store!

Then, it wasn't One Day More. It WAS July 3rd. The day I would get my mission call.

I left work early and went home. I went to the mailbox. I opened it to see this AMAZING giant envelope inside. 
It was crazy. Unbelievable. My mission call was here. My fate for 18 months.
Me holding my mission call. It took a lot of pictures to finally get a good one.
I saw how thin the envelope was and I was like, "It's stateside...of course."
I told my parents it was here, but I couldn't open my call if my dad wasn't home. I was going to facetime my dad's family and put the phone on speaker with my mom. My stepmom tried to get me to open it, and not wait for Dad. 
I was like, "Natalie, do you know how heartbroken Dad would be?"
Natalie: "But what about my feelings!!!??? I've been waiting for this all day!"
Me: "What do you think I've been doing???"
She wants it known that she was waiting the whole day in agonising pain. At one point, I called her up to ask when Dad was getting home and I told her I opened it. She freaked out until I told her I was kidding. 
Finally, my dad got home. I got on Facetime and called my mom. I saw my dad, Natalie, my siblings Lauren, Brandon, Ashleigh, and Aubree, and my sister's best friend Abele. Natalie called up her family so they could hear. I checked to see if my mom could hear.
Then, I slowly opened the envelope. Natalie yelled, "JULIE! JUST OPEN IT!" I was trying not to maim it.
Then, I got the letter out of the envelope. A faded, yellow paper color. I have a habit of reading ahead, so I covered the first few paragraphs with my hands and tried to read every word in order.
I read aloud:
"Sister Julie Kristen Brooks, (I had read that wrong and then corrected myself) Sister Brooks,
You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the México Monterrey West Mission. It is anticipated you will serve for a period of 18 months.
You should report to the Provo Missionary Training Center on Wednesday, November 27, 2013. You will prepare to preach the gospel in the Spanish Language."
I continued to read the rest of the mission call. Then, at the end, in his own hand was President Thomas S. Monson's signature. The Lord had called me on a mission.
TO MEXICO!