Monday, December 23, 2013

Loving My Red Hot Christmas!

Dear Family!
Guess what; it is Christmas week!! How crazy is that?!? It's so weird to have a hot Christmas! Frankly it just doesn't feel like Christmas; you know? But it's good. It's my favourite time of year, snow or no snow. I hope you guys are enjoying your white Christmas, cause I'm loving my red-hot one! (:
I'm sure you guys are looking forward to your very best Christmas present of all....getting to talk to your favourite sister/daughter. You guys must be so excited! (: Ha ha just kidding I'm excited. So I will be skyping you at about 8:30 am Christmas morning here in I don't know when that is in America; sometime on Christmas Eve evening. But yes, I have Skype account so I guess I will just Skype you guys! So be online okay!? (:

Just me trying to smell my Christmas box you sent me!

Ahhh I loooooovvveee the Christmas pictures you sent me!! Joseph is the cutest thing on the entire planet!!!! Aww he's been crying for me?! Oh my goodness I miss him so much. He is so adorable. Give him a kiss for me! I'm so excited to seehis cute little face.
 Yep sounds like you guys are in full-blown party season right now! The life we lead; oh my goodness. Family, count your blessings, because you are the privileged of the privileged.
Ummm okay so Abby's hair looks GORGEOUS. What did I tell you?!?! You were always meant to be a brunette!

I got some AMAZING news this morning!! So Tony and Nina, the Bosnian family that Sister Littleford and I found in Kentucky, are getting baptized!! (: We got so close to that family. They are the ones that dropped me off to the mission home when I left; and we all cried. I am SO excited to hear that they are getting married and baptized. I promised I would fly out for their sealing, and I'm still planning on it!
So! We had a good week here in Australia! To be completely honest, things have slowed down a bit. Christmas time is hard here in Australia, because everyone believes in family, but not in they don't love having missionaries over around Christmas time. Even the members are a bit busy for us. But hey!! That's okay!! "Let us all press on in the work of the Lord...." Last night we went tracting, but disguised it as carolling, and met some awesome people. So we will go back after Christmas and teach them. And it will be amazing.

So. Revelation. It's my favourite thing ever. And it is so tricky sometimes! The Lord works in His own way and in His own time, and we just have to learn to be patient. Sister Payze and I have been praying for direction and guidance for our area for days and days. Yesterday, as we were closing our planning session and she was praying, the guidance we'd been seeking just came to my mind effortlessly. It was really cool and exactly what we needed.

We are teaching this woman named Ayla right now. She is awesome; she will definitely get baptized but there are a few complications with her partner. BUT! She will get baptized. She knows the gospel is true. I'm pretty much 100% sure we knew each other in the pre-existence. The Lord definitely blessed me with the gift of discernment with her; I always know exactly what her concerns/feelings are,  more than with any other investigator that I've taught. She always says that I can read her better than her own mother. The gift of discernment is a real thing, you guys!

Yeah don't worry; I'm over that stress thing. I was definitely pushing myself too hard, but I've learned that everyone has limits and that is okay. So don't worry! Things are awesome and I am LOVING my mission. It is the best thing I've ever done! Missions aren't easy; but there is nothing better. I've learned so much about myself. Nothing can replace the growth and experience you get from dedicating yourself to the Lord.
I love you all! Can't wait to talk to you on Christmas! Kiss Joseph for me!

Sister Bryce

Monday, December 16, 2013

Just someone please go lay down in the snow for me, please.

Dear Family,
 Okay you guys.. slow down there right this second. Before you start being jealous of my lovely summer weather, let me tell you something terrible. It is going to be 41 C today. That is just over 105 F. Guess what...we don't have air conditioning. Also, it's not just your average 105 degree weather; this is AUSTRALIA. The ozone layer is thinner here than anywhere else in the world. And trust me, you can feel it! The sun literally smacks you in the face like a burning hot frying pan filled with lava drenched with acid and sprinkled bits of Satan's wrath. You don't have to believe me but I'm just being honest here...I am MELTING. But hey like it's great and stuff, no dramas. Just someone please go lay down in the snow for me, please. Ha ha okay that was a little dramatic, but trust me, it is hot. Waikiki is a lake of fire and brimstone. Ha ha just kidding.

Guys Christmas is about CHRIST!!! Not about stuff!!! Go sell all your presents and give the money to a family in need. Do I need to rebuke you guys? Because if there is one thing I can do, it's rebuke! Ahh I'm serious all I want to do is call the whole entire world to repentance. I'm for real though, Satan has taken everything that is good about Christmas and replaced it with "me me me, want want want." Guys. It's not about you. I'm talking to you, my little munchkin siblings. Give more than you get. Because if you don't, someday you will get less than you gave...way less. Everyone. Go repent. Me too I'm going to go repent too. Ahhh I'm so excited to come home and give all of your guys' stuff away!! Ha ha no jk. But for real.

Okay so let me tell you one thing that happened. Well, so, at the beginning of last week Sister Payze and I got PUMPED out of our minds. We talked to this RM Maori guy in our ward that should really be a general authority/motivational speaker, and no joke guys, during the whole conversation with him I could hardly even sit still. All I wanted to do was run out into the street and start preaching all nations. Anyways, he gave us all these really great ideas of how to be better missionaries. But then he said, "expect opposition. Satan does not want you to be better, and he will try to stop you." So we assured him that we wouldn't.

Well guys, guess what. Satan hard out tried to stop us. Do you want to know what happened?! Well guess what. The first lesson we had after that conversation was with a less active. We're sitting there, ready to start teaching, and BAM. Her granddaughter breaks her wrist out on the driveway. Yep, lesson = over. So they took her to the hospital and we went out to our car. Guess what?! Our tires = slashed!!!! Haha ha I'm just joking about the equal sign, I'm being hilarious guys. But no, for real. Someone slashed our tire. I know who it was, too. SATAN. He did it. He came and he slashed our tire. And we just laughed. As IF that would stop us, you know what I'm sayin?! He's just mad because we are winning, so he threw a tantrum for a second. Moral of the story - opposition. It's a real thing.

Like I said. Satan slashed it.

Me and my awesome companion sister Payze

So, on a more serious note. Something that I want to share with you guys. So Saturday night, I realized that I was really stressed, and have been for weeks. I didn't realize until I laid down, tried to relax and couldn't. I had this constant knot of...I don't know, anxiety? my chest that I couldn't really get rid of. It was just from having so much responsibility and trying so hard to get better and be a better missionary all the time. We have to constantly improve, but holy smokes I was stressing myself out. I mean, I woke up at 4:30 in the morning to study. Come on, that's psycho! Yep so I realized that I've been stressed out for weeks and it was making me physically sick. So before I went to sleep Saturday night, I prayed for peace. That feeling was still there though! Even after I had slept a whole night, I woke up with that knot of anxiety. I've probably had it for weeks and haven't realized.
So we went to church. During the opening exercises of Sacrament meeting, I prayed really hard. Honestly I was like, pleading. But still, nothing. And then, the Sacrament started. We always talk about how important the Sacrament is. It's symbolic of the Atonement of the Savior; His body and blood and how it was shed for us individually. The bread represents his body, the death of which overcame physical death. Because of the Resurrection of Christ, all men - good and evil - will rise again. But his blood - represented by the water - was shed as a sacrifice for sin, which gift is conditional on our personal righteousness. So during this meeting, with that in mind, I prayed for the power of the Atonement of Christ to take away the feeling of anxiety that I had. And you would not believe the degree to which that prayer was answered. As I took the sacramental cup, all the tension and stress and anxiety literally just melted away. It was the coolest thing. The Atonement of Christ is real power, and we should all use it more.

You know what? You are RIGHT! It IS cool being on a mission during Christmas time!
That is So. True. Revelation takes work. You have to ask, seek, knock. The scripture doesn't say, "don't say anything, and ye shall receive, sit there, and ye shall find, sit outside on the porch swing, and it shall be opened unto you". I think way too many of us sit in the shade on our porch swings and wait for the Saviour to open the door, get our attention, tell us to come in and point to the steps.
Yeah! I like that! "the wicked sacrifice others to promote themselves." So true. I never thought of it that simply, but Satan's kingdom is built on selfishness and the Lord's is built on selflessness. It's been like that from day one, since the grand council in Heaven. That was, ultimately, the difference between Christ's plan and Lucifers. So the forces of good and evil are divided into, ultimately, two groups - the selfless and the selfish. Which side are we on? Which side do our actions say we are on?
Guys we are SO blessed to belong to this Church. It's so much more than a church; it literally is the Kingdom of God on Earth, and we all have a part in it. What is the three-fold mission of the church? When the Church was restored, a marvellous event happened. Moses, Elijah and Elisha appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland Temple. Three things were restored. Moses brought the keys to the gathering of Israel. Elijah brought the sealing power. Elias brought the preparation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. With that, the three-fold purpose of the church was born - Proclaim the Gospel, Redeem the Dead, and Perfect the Saints. We all have a part in that. Right now, I am proclaiming the gospel. You guys are in the perfecting the saints/redeeming the dead section. Are you doing it? Because this is Christ's Church, therefore it's purpose is His purpose. Perfect yourselves. Do the little things - read your scriptures, say your prayers. DAILY. Go to Church, listen, then APPLY. Redeem the dead. You should all go do baptisms for the dead together. That's my commitment to you. That's what I want you guys to get me for Christmas. You can go a little bit after Christmas, but go. Guys. REPENT!!!

Okay well I have to go. I got your package this week, thank you SO much and don't worry, I haven't opened it. It's driving me crazy though. Ha ha nah just joking. I love you all! Listen to me! For real though. Remember who I represent. D&C 68:4.
Sister Bryce

P.S. On those last two paragraphs you wrote me - yep, yep yep. Amen to everything you said. Ahhh I love the gospel.

Monday, December 9, 2013

One of the Coolest Lessons of my Life!

Dear Family,
Okay guess what. This week was AWESOME. I LOVE my new companion, she's the cutest/shortest person on the planet. She's 4'8''. It's hilarious. We are both so pumped for this transfer, it's ridiculous.
I had a sticky-note list of things I wanted to tell you about, but I left it at the dang it. This week was really good though!

Me and my teensy, weensy, little companion

We did this thing called spiritual tracting, I think I told you guys about it awhile ago. It's the coolest thing ever. Both of us go into our rooms and repent, which is the most important part. We absolutely HAVE to be clean in order to have the Spirit and direction from the Lord. We don't take it lightly, either. We kneel in our Gethsemane and seek forgiveness for all of the little things we've done or haven't done over the past few days, and we come out of it empowered. Quick tangent: if repentance is not a regular part of your life, make it one. Our personal plan of Salvation hinges on the sincerity and regularity of our repentance. And if you don't think you have to repent, go humble yourself and repent for that mindset. Saying you don't need to repent is denying the need for a Savior in your life.
Anyways, back to my story. So we both repented and then prayed specifically for an area to tract. Then a section of that area. Then we prayed and individually listed streets we wanted to visit. We each had one street in common - Marigold Street. Which we went and tracted and found the most GOLDEN Moari guy ever! He was so legit and we are teaching him and his family tomorrow. I am SO pumped!
So here's the coolest thing on the planet. Well, Maori's are descendants of Lehi. More specifically, Haggoth - the guy in the Book of Mormon who built a ship and then sailed away and was never heard of more. Their history and culture is SO closely tied to the Book of Mormon/Bible, and they don't even know it. This LEGIT Moari guy in our ward was telling me some of it. For example, before a Moari speaks at a gathering, they always repeat an ancient saying in Moari. Translated into English, it goes something like this - "Long ago, we came across the sea from a land far away, a narrow strip of land joining to large lands, with water on either side." The Maoris think it's like an imaginary place....but we all know where that is! (:Yes anyways, that's not doctrine so we don't teach it. But it's outrageously awesome.

 I had one of the coolest lessons of my life. So, due to some necessary travel arrangements involving transfers, Sister Chou Lee and I were in a trio with Sister Ensign for one glorious day. It was amazing. Let me tell you about this lesson we had. So we were up in Kwinana, and we were visiting this lady. We went to her house and something came up so we couldn't teach her. Instead, we went across that street to a less active that we had never met. The less active, Quinton, was there, along with his non-member friend. We sat down and started the lesson. We opened with a hymn, and the Spirit - BAM. He was crying before the first verse was over. We continued the lesson and taught the principle of repentance. It was one of the most powerful lessons any of us - Sister Ensign, Sister Chou Lee and I - had ever been in. It's hard to explain but it was ridiculous. We called him to repentance. None of that pansy stuff "um, so anyways, please could you like, repent and stuff. Please, Jesus loves you." NO, NOT IN OUR HOUSE!! At the end of the lesson, "Quinton. WILL YOU repent of your sins?" At this point he was weeping,"Yes." "Will you come to church and worship the Lord Jesus Christ with us on Sunday?" "Yes." "Quinton's friend. Will you follow the example of Jesus Christ, and be baptized by someone holding the Priesthood Authority of God?" "Yes". The friend had no idea what we were even talking about it, but the Spirit in the room was so hardcore that he know he had to say yes. We walked out of that lesson with our minds blown.

Another tangent. God is SO powerful. He rules the universe. He can do anything. And we can tap into his power. We do this through faith, worthiness, and making and keeping covenants with Him. Covenants are SO powerful. Yes, us endowed members have our Temple covenants that we've made. We need to reflect on them often and make sure we are living them. Every member of the church has made a baptismal covenant, to take upon them the name of Christ and to always remember Him. To ALWAYS REMEMBER HIM. We can all do better at that. If we do, we have greater access to the power of God. AND, we can also make personal covenants with God. In the privacy of our room, down on our knees we can make covenants, even daily ones. More than just, "Heavenly Father, please help me to....". No. "Heavenly Father, I WILL do this. Prepare the way for me, and I will do anything in my power to make it happen. Should all the forces of hell combine against me, I'll do it." Trust me, I am speaking from personal experience here - when we make those covenants, and keep them, God's Spirit and power floods our lives. But we HAVE to keep them; those aren't the kind of promises you break. And be prepared, because when Satan will try and stop you. This is a war, and we have to see it that way! We are literally fighting a war that we've all been engaged in since before the foundation of the world. We have to be active; there is no middle ground. There's no Switzerland between heaven and hell, here on earth. The nature of this spiritual conflict is such that there can be no fence sitters - every day, without even knowing it, we make choices that are either for or against the Savior and His plan.

Another thing. Guys, keep the commandments. We have to. Being more obedient to the commandments of God is the answer to pretty much every problem in life. In my study this morning, I was studying how to have the Spirit with me more, and how to have a stronger testimony, and I kept getting all these scriptures saying "keep the commandments. Keep the commandments." And I was like, "I'm already keeping, now what? What's next?" But it kept coming up so I decided to go and study the commandments, just to make sure I hadn't missed anything. (: Well, guess what guys. Keeping the basic commandments is WAY harder and more uncommon than we give it credit for. Just for a refresher, let me list them for you (as taught in Preach My Gospel):

Pray Often
Study the Scriptures
Keep the Sabbath Day Holy
Baptism and Confirmation
Follow the Prophet - (think about it. Think about every general conference address from a prophet you've ever heard. Every prophetic scripture you've ever read. Holy smokes, we have to do ALL of that. Yep.)
Keep the Ten Commandments -
Live the Law of Chastity
Obey the Word of Wisdom
Live the Law of the Tithe
Live the Law of the Fast
Obey and Honor the Law
These are the basics. Lets master them. And in order to master them, we need to know and thoroughly understand them - for example, keeping the Sabbath Day Holy. Studying the Sabbath as a family and figuring out just exactly we are and aren't supposed to do on that day would be a great Family Home Evening, for every single family in the entire universe.
Anyways, I love you guys! Keep being righteous and stuff and START WRITING ME LETTERS!!!

Sister Bryce

Yep I know, I've let myself go. I don't have time for dolling up these days; don't judge me! I just, like, don't care.

Monday, December 2, 2013

New Companion Sister Payze and Thanksgiving Down in Bunbury

Hey guys!!
AHHHH guess what, it's transfers week!! I was so so nervous that I was going to get transferred. But I'm NOT!!! Which I am so happy about. I love this area/ward and I don't feel like I've done what I came here to do.
Sister Chou Lee will be leaving, though. I'll miss her, I've learned a lot from her but I think it will be good. Change is always good on a mission; it's an opportunity to rededicate myself to the work I came here to do. My new companion's name is Sister Payze; I've met her a few times but I don't really know her. I am excited; I'm sure she is awesome and we are going to work SO hard this transfer! We aren't the Sister Training Leaders, which is good. I enjoyed it but honestly I just want to focus on my area. It's really fun being an STL; but I just want to be a soldier.
We had exchanges this week; one in Kwinana and one down in Bunbury. Sister Leiataua from Kwinana came to Waikiki with me; and we had a BLAST. She is such a fun, happy missionary. In Bunbury I went with Sister Kennar and Sister Iosua-fui; both amazing missionaries as well. I love the missionaries in this mission, ESPECIALLY the sisters. They aren't perfect but they are definitely the cream of the crop.
We had Thanksgiving down in Bunbury! It was DELICIOUS. Want to know what we had? (: Sweet potatoes, chicken, rice, spaghetti and oranges. It was very un-traditional but hey, you gotta work with what you got. It was delicious.

Exchanges with Sister Leiataua!

Thanksgiving dinner In Bunbury

Sister Atkinson, a.k.a. my best friend!

So things have been good; we are still on bikes which is fun. Seriously it's not too bad! We get to talk to more people since we aren't confined to the car. The other day I stopped and talked to this cute old lady who was walking down the street; turns out she was blind. We helped her cross the road. She wasn't interested but she was a lovely lady!

Fast Sunday was amazing. My testimony of the power of fasting has been strengthened so much. Everything I fasted for I had before the day was over. Guys, it works! Before my mission I would look at fasting as just going without food and being miserable. It's SO much more than that! It's powerful.
It looks like you guys had a great Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving is such a good holiday. Everyone outside of America is missing out. An American woman in our ward invited us missionaries over to her house on Saturday for a late Thanksgiving dinner, and that was delicious. Not as good as home but delicious none the less.

I'm so excited for Christmas!! It's such a good opportunity for missionary work because everyone is nicer. We are going to start using Joy to the World dvds....we are going to give them to members and commit them to give it to a friend; and then follow up with that friend. It will be good; this ward is so amazing that the only way to do missionary work here is through the members. They are so good, but holy smokes, they feed us WAY too much!! Like every single night. Tomorrow night we have two dinner appointments. Nah it's good; we need to work with the members as much as possible.
Oh and for Christmas, I will be skyping you guys on my Christmas morning around 8:30 or 9am. That should  be sometime on Christmas Eve night for you guys. I'll give you the details as it gets closer.
Well I love you guys! Sorry this isn't a very interesting email; next week will be jam-packed full of awesome missionary experiences. Love you!
Sister Bryce

My District