Friday, November 16, 2012


I told you all that we started teaching Trinia again, right? We had called her periodically because she had been so set on baptism and it was so abrupt the change in her that we knew she had a testimony and hoped that she'd let us come back when she was ready. Well, one of the times we called and left a message saying we loved her and missed her, she actually called back! We asked if we could teach her again and she said she'd love that. So we went over and she looked awful. She had scabs all over her face and her skin underneath the scabs was blotchy. Her legs and arms looked awful, too. She had been picking her face in her sleep and would wake up with scabs and reopened scabs every day. Her dialysis always kept her feeble looking but that first time we saw her was shocking. That first lesson her heart was still pretty hard but the next week was probably the best lesson I've ever had with her. She was in a great mood and asking questions and saying how our church is for people who really mean it and know it. She said she wanted to start reading and praying again and cried through the lesson. I cried through the lesson, too, and so did Sis Ford. Though we were mostly crying because she was coughing so horribly. It was heart-wrenching to watch her body convulse as she struggled for breath. It made me sick knowing smoking had done this to her. Still, the lesson was FILLED with the Spirit. We hugged her as we left and she told us how much she loved us.

The next appointment we had scheduled with her was supposed to be Tuesday the 30th of October but ended up needing to go to the doctor because she felt so awful so we decided to reschedule for Thursday. She passed away that night in the early hours of the Wednesday morning. So, she technically died on Halloween. It's been a weird, hard week. I wish so badly that she could have quit smoking last month and that she could have been baptized before she passed. I hate knowing she's in Spirit Prison. I hate it. It makes my stomach tie itself in knots that won't come undone when I think about it. But I am grateful she's not stuck in her body anymore. She was in so much pain. She was miserable.
Her funeral was yesterday. This is the 2nd investigator Sister Ford and I have had die on us. 2nd funeral we've been to together. (The last one was Randy Hobson in Salem.) If the only thing I knew about our church was the way we do our funerals, that would be enough for me to want to be a member. There's really no comfort or peace at the funerals of other denominations. Though it was quite the experience attending a Southern Baptist funeral... er, "Home Goin' " as the Reverend kept calling it. Our church gets out at 2:30 and the funeral started at 3:00 and was in Berea which is about 20-25 minutes away from the chapel in Richmond. So we booked it out of Relief Society and walked into the funeral home two minutes before it started. 

We walked in the doors and instantly felt like the odd ones out and not just because we were two Mormons among 120 Baptists but because we were the only white people in the room. AND, there was only one entrance to the room and it was at the front of the chapel so we had to walk past everyone staring at us. When we finally made it to the very back we noticed two other white people. So we made up half of the white population. We sat down and I braced myself for what I was sure would be an experience that had it not been for such a sad occasion, little 6th grade Brooke and 6th grade Brynn would have jumped at the opportunity to have. As soon as we sat down the funeral director and the reverend closed the casket and the reverend took his place at the pulpit. Do I really need to describe it for you? I'm sure you all already have imagined it up perfectly in your heads. The reverend looked wonderful in a broad, dark purple suit with a gray beard and a horrendous, black toupee. He was wearing gold jewelry on 6 of his ten fingers. His voice shook as he spoke. He referred to Trinia as "Sista" and all of the people who participated in the services as "Brotha". A brotha read the 23rd Psalm and then the reverend re-quoted it about 4 times in his own sermon. Another brotha said a great prayer where people talked and "Amen"ed the whole way through with him. 

Another brotha got up and sang in a rich, deep voice one of those haunting, soulful gospel songs they sing out here a lot about walking with Jesus. The reverend spoke some more. If it was too quiet he'd ask if he could get a witness. And he'd get one. People weren't just saying, "Amen" they were also shouting, "Tell it", "That's true, that's true", "Keep on, Preacher Man", "You said it" and "Praise Jesus". I was amazed that they all knew when to give him that feedback and when not to. There were some points where I would wait for someone to shout in response and it would be silent and it seemed like you weren't supposed to talk and then there would be other times when everyone at once would shout in response at the same time. I'm glad I didn't try to get in on it because I know I would have piped up at one of those times when you were supposed to be quiet and would have made a fool of myself. He kept saying that Jesus did all this stuff "fo' ya". He said, "Fo' ya" over and over again. Then he talked about when granny would get in her nightgown and walk down the hall opening every door and say "See ya in the mornin' " and then she'd get to the next door and say, "See ya in the mornin' " and so on and so on and then he said to Trinia, "See ya...." and everyone shouted, "In the mornin'!"

 It got pretty intense in there for a while. And then he talked about hell and how if you aren't saved you go there. He was shouting and moving his body around without actually moving his feet. And then he was done. I was smiling by the end which I guess is a good thing. But there really wasn't much peace. He didn't talk about Trinia. He actually had only seen her twice. He didn't talk about her life. He just talked about that Psalm the whole time and about how death is our enemy and how if we don't have Jesus we go to hell forever. We left and I haven't really been able to stop thinking about the whole experience. I kept thinking about how my nieces and nephews who are tiny and young know more about God's plan than most of the world. There was truth in a lot of what the reverend said, but he just kept repeating the same things over and over again without making me feel all that good. It was like a dimly lit room. The light and truth there was light, but it was dim.

It's been a weird week. Sister Ford and I keep saying the only good thing about this week is that we're companions because having to go through this week with any other companion would have made it all unbearable.

We had four people drop us on Saturday because their lives are "so hectic right now that there's not really any time for God at the moment... maybe later once things calm down". Hmm... if only they would make time for God, then their lives wouldn't be so hectic. Blah.

We taught John again. He's that little boy who is way too smart for his age who is getting baptized soon. He understands everything we teach perfectly and can teach it to others before we're done with the lesson. It was an interesting contrast to sit on the floor of his house because they don't have furniture and talk to this young boy with bright eyes devouring every word we said and taking it in and loving it and looking over at his mom in her t-shirt that had a big marijuana leaf on it, sorting through his Halloween candy for the candy she wanted for herself and telling us that cats are the souls of people who wanted to be humans but were bad. I just look at this little boy and wonder what kind of life he is going to have and see how much Heavenly Father loves him and how much potential he has. Why are some people born into the circumstances they're born into? Why was I blessed with the family and the life that I've been given? It boggles my mind.

On Thursday Adam gave up smoking. It was really hard for him and we fasted for him and I even told him I'd give up three things that I love as long as he gave up his smoking so that someone would be in pain while he was. He made it 48 hours and then he caved. He felt awful when he had to tell me. His eyes looked so defeated. He knew that he for sure can't be baptized while I'm in Kentucky anymore. That was his last shot. But it's ok. I told him that I'm proud of him, and I am. He hasn't been able to go 48 hours without a cigarette in YEARS. That's a huge accomplishment. I told him that whenever he's ready to try again that I'd give up those three things again and we would try until he beat it. He wants to be able to go into the temple so badly. We also taught him about Patriarchal Blessings this week and he can't wait to get his. I just hope so badly that he can quit smoking. I can't watch someone else get as sick as Trinia got and know that they did this to themselves. Please continue praying for him. I don't care when he gets baptized or who is there, I just want him to have this happiness that's waiting for him.

This week wasn't all bad. We had interviews with President Woodbury and while we were there one of the Senior Couple Elders gave us blessings. I was told in mine that I wouldn't be able to see all of the reaping of my labors but that I would hear about them once I was home. The blessing told me I have a work to do at home. I'm so grateful I got that blessing because the next day was the day those four people dropped us and Adam gave in and smoked again. That blessing helped soften the blow.

We haven't had much problems here from the storm. It was really rainy for a couple days but that's about it.

I really am sorry that this email is so depressing. Our district leader called last night and was like, "Wow. You sound so depressed." So we told him about our week and he was like, "I wish I had something encouraging to tell you but, honestly, our week was awful, too. I'm sorry." Sometimes you just have bad weeks. What can you say? The Church is still true. Christ still lives. Sometimes that's all you have to hold on to. Sometimes the only thing you have left is your testimony. But, that's enough. You hold on to that until the storm passes. Eventually the sun will come back out. I know it will.

Trinia's "home goin'" and people constantly talking to me about my mission ending has made me think a lot about the Final Judgment. I've been reading about it and praying about it quite a bit. There's an Elder in the ward with us and he said something that really struck me the other day. He said that when we stand before the judgment bar it will be like a movie comes up on a big screen that shows everything that's ever happened in our lives. The title will come up and it will have our name in bold letters. Then he said that if we use this life as the time we've been given to prepare to meet God, our movie title could read:

The Life of Brooke Nelson
Edited by Jesus Christ

That's how I want mine to read. Through Christ we can have all of those moments that we're ashamed of, all of those moments we wish we could take back, all of those moments we wish we could forget edited out. Erased. Cut. Gone. We can be forgiven. Sadness and pain can be replaced by happiness and joy. It can. It can if we will choose Christ. That's the hope that keeps me going after I mess up for the billionth time in a row. We can conquer all things through Christ.

Sorry this is all so over the place. I hope that Enzo had a good birthday. Tomorrow's election day. Crazy.

I love you all. The Church is TRUE! Share it!

Love Yuns,


1 comment:

Amanda Roberts said...

Brooke you are incredible! Thank you for sharing these experience's. It truly makes me feel so blessed. I see so much good in what you are doing from these emails, I cannot imagine how much good is yet to come from you!