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!


Hermana Julie Brooks


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
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

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!