Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas!!

Hi hi!
    All Christmas Eve morning I had butterflies about face timing my family!!! We had a practice for our performance that morning and I was freaking out the whole time. It FINALLY ended and I RAN in to face time them. I was shaking I was so nervous and excited, tissues in hand, at the ready. I called and they answered right away and it was waterfalls of tears from then on. Happy tears, sad tears, laughing tears, missing tears, spiritual tears. They are SO cute. It went by way too fast. It was the most special and wonderful Christmas present I could ever ask for. I love my family with my whole heart. I was so happy to hear my dad's new joke:

Why did the snow turn yellow?
Because Elsa had to let it go

  My heart ached as we said goodbye, but it was the most special moment. Although we are far away, this experience is bringing us so much closer and I am so grateful for these sacred moments I wouldn't be able to have otherwise! 
  Christmas Eve and Christmas were wonderful here at the Visitors' Center. We got to perform a musical program and eat and be all together with the sisters and senior couples. Our music program involved some narration and different hymns and songs and things. We sang this beautiful song called This Jesus This King and I can barely get through it without crying!! I love the power of music and the fact that I can bear testimony through song!! I felt so much love from friends and family and I can't thank you enough. It was definitely one to remember :)

Do you see this child the prophets foretold 
at rest in his mothers loving hold?
Do you hear her sing a sweet lullably,
"Sleep, baby Jesus, don't cry."
This child, Jesus this king, we bring Him our offering.
This child, Jesus this king, we worship Him now and sing.
Shepherds and wise men fell down at His feet,
angels rejoiced with praise. 
God's plan of love for us all is complete.
We come now to Him and bring,
We bring our hearts to this child our king

   Saturday morning we were sitting in the car about to go in to the Visitors' Center and the phone rang. Sister Harper grabs it and looks at me, "It's President." We answered it and he kindly asked Sister Harper if she would be willing to be a Sister Training Leader. Both of our eyes welled with tears as she accepted the call. We hung up and emotion filled the car. We sat there for a while then we shared a very special moment. She expressed some of her feelings and I expressed mine. I was HONORED and truly, truly humbled that I had her as my trainer. Being called as a Sister Training Leader your 5th transfer is absolutely unheard of. She was trained, then the second she was done getting trained, she trained me, and the second she was done training me, she got this call. A STL is like a girl version of a Zone Leader. Usually you don't become a STL until you have been on your mission for a while. I dont know what I did to deserve her, but I am SO lucky to have had her as my trainer. The Spirit was very strong as we expressed these emotions and told each other thank you and that we loved each other and offered encouraging words. Overall, I was just so humbled. She is clearly an incredible missionary and is meant to be a leader. I am so grateful that I was able to be a small part of her journey!! I cant believe it's over! 
  We got a call Saturday night telling us where we were going and with who!! I am going to San Lorenzo with Sister Zhong (pronounced jong)!!!! San Lorenzo is just a neighbor to San Leandro! I will still be at the Visitors' Center part time! I have met Sister Zhong a few time and she is AMAZING. She is from mainland China, probably 4 feet tall, bangs, glasses, broken english, ADORABLE. She goes home in March! She is a Visitors' Center, but she has been training a sister in a full proselyting area, so no VC. I have only heard good things about her. I have heard  that she is incredibly hard working and incredibly obedient. We are shotgunning the area, which means San Lorenzo is getting two new sisters instead of one sister staying and one new one coming in. We will both be new!! She will be the senior companion but I will be the driver (nervous). Oh man I was just overcome with peace when I got this call. I am SO so excited!! It will be a change and an adventure for sure!! I am ready to get my lazy butt kicked into gear and learn something :) No but really, I am excited to be companions with an experienced missionary attacking a challenge!! I have a ton to learn and I know she will help me grow! I will be in the same Zone as my last district, so that will be fun to be with some of the same missionaries I have come so close to. Sister Harper is going to Berkeley to a YSA ward! She will still be in the Visitors' Center too, so I will still get to see her a ton :) 
     We have been preparing our area book and info for the incoming elders to get a good start on our area!!! We said bye to our ward on Sunday. Everyone was making jokes about elders coming in. Bishop was like, "Now I know why our ward had to switch to 12:30, because we wont have the Sisters here at 9 am to be our sunshine!" So sweet. I loved my ward and will miss them dearly, but HECK let's go to San Lorenzo!! 

"What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?" Matthew 27:22

    This is Pilate asking the people, and they respond "crucify him," but President Frandsen made a beautiful metaphor. So, we celebrate Christmas and Christ's birth and it's wonderful and special and exciting. When Christmas has passed, what are we going to do about it? What are we going to do with this beautiful gift that has been given to us? What shall I do with this Jesus which is called Christ? Christmas isn't just one day then it's over. We receive the gift, then it's our job to USE it throughout the year. Apply Jesus Christ into your life. He doesn't disappear with all the lights and stockings and candy and presents. He is always there. I hope I can show my gratitude for this precious gift by remembering Him and trying to be like Him by applying his precious Atonement every day of my life! He is the best gift we could ever receive! 

I cant wait to write and tell you how transfers went and how happy I am!
Love Love Love
Sister Brinton

ps Happy New Year and Happy Birthday to my sweet Porter and Ellie 


Fun surprise to see Riley Warren:))
and Hannah Pointer :))
Alifua family in San Leandro ward
Sister Muench
Sister Resendiz
Sister Diaz
Sister Tam I LOVE HER

Three generations. Sister Jorgenson trained Sister Harper and Sister Harper trained me :)
Sister Chen


Merry christmas!!
Nana sent me this darling dress my aunt Sara made!!
Sister Payne and Sister Williams
Brother and Sister Simpson
Bishop Wheuler (pronounced Wheeler)
Paradize
haircut before...

After....
Christmas blanket!!
Last district meeting!

FACETIMING MY FAMILY
The Richards!!


Monday, December 21, 2015

Count it all JOY

Merry Merry Merry Christmas!!! I love you.
     I am just WEEPING as I begin to write this email home. I am so overcome with joy and gratitude and love this Christmas season!! I have heard people say over and over that Christmas time on the mission is the best. They are totally right. There is nothing like it. There is nothing like being on temple grounds under Christmas lights all day every day and into the night. There is nothing like hearing Christmas music focused on the Savior all day every day. There is nothing like testifying of the meaning and importance of Jesus Christ's birth to people from Bolivia and Iran and Belize and Ethiopia and Hong Kong. I always knew that Christmas was about the Savior like CLEARLY. But wow I have never focused on Him so much and felt so much joy and peace. One of my favorite parts of the Christmas video is when they say "Rejoice! Rejoice! Rejoice greatly!" What better reason do we have to rejoice than to rejoice over a Savior who came into the world to SAVE us, to change our hearts, to fill us with love and forgiveness toward our fellowmen.
     You are all way too good to me. I have received so many of the sweetest notes and packages and gifts that have made my Christmas season SO special and I feel so loved. THANK YOU to wherever you live & back. 
     We live at the Visitors Center. We added it up and we were there for a total of over 50 hours this week. One day we were there for 14 hours STRAIGHT. It is absolutely exhausting but it is so wonderful. The Spirit and Christmas Spirit there is just so beautiful. I love it. We have joked about just moving our beds into the VC, I mean we only sleep in our apartment so might as well! Salt Lake (our headquarters) called and told us that our VC has had the most referrals this Christmas season out of all the Visitors' Centers! WHOO HOOO!!! We are working so hard for it! One thing that we constantly pray for and keep in mind is our goal of 400 baptisms! Every thing we are doing now at the Visitors Center is affecting next year! These referrals will turn into baptisms in 2016! It doesn't start January of 2016, it starts today!! I love it. I love it. I love it. I also love rotating companions because it is practically like I have 25 companions! The Sisters I serve with are incredible. I have made some lifelong friends here. 
     I was so happy I finally got to be a part of the Bowen Family's Christmas traditions (family on my Mom's side). They live here in California and come up to the lights on Temple Hill every year, so it was SO wonderful to run into them. They are the SWEETEST family and it made my day! They even got to sit in on a tour and see what I get to do every day, bear my testimony of the Savior!! I was 1/2 crying because of them 1/2 crying because of the Spirit :)
     Last year was the first year Sarada celebrated Christmas and she was in a Women's shelter where they provided Christmas for her and her sweetest family. This year she is in a home and cannot provide a Christmas for her kids, not unlike millions of people that live only blocks from each of us. Her ward provided a Christmas for her and we got to deliver it! I had complete butterflies driving to her home and tears while standing at the door singing, waiting for them to answer. Her eyes welled with tears and her children jumped and giggled with excitement. There are few words to describe the joy I felt that night. My issues and my presents and my priorities were FAR from my mind. Seeing these people with such gratitude was just the most powerful thing. We could have given them a can of soup and they would be crying with happiness. Experiences like this change your perspective. Suddenly, you dont care about all the little things that used to bug you. You stop complaining because you feel like an IDIOT for ever even THINKING about complaining about something so minute. I love Sarada and her family with my whole heart and my children will know them by name. 
     I get to face time my family on THURSDAY, CHRISTMAS EVE because my sweet hard-working Daddie is working on Christmas Day. I am so excited I could DIE. One of my MANY expectations is him telling some of his infamous jokes. I miss him
     So weekly planning was short this week because we have a grand total of ONE hour in our area this week. ONE hour. one. So we prayed our little hearts out to our Father in Heaven asking Him what to do with this one precious hour. I was filled with unexpected sorrow as I prayed for each of these special angels in San Leandro that I am leaving next week. I love them with my whole heart. I love them as if they are my own family. They ARE my family. The Elders are going to feel like they have 2 mothers because we have long drawn out detailed instructions of what to do and FULL backgrounds and life histories of all of our people haha. Its hard to describe but you feel like you are leaving your children!!! You want them to know all the details and you want them to love your investigators as much as you do, after everything you have been through and everything you have taught them and how FAR they have come. 
     I had a beautiful spiritual experience I would love to share. This was very powerful to me and strengthened my testimony so much. The Spirit testified to me that this transfer was from Heavenly Father. So, we can only give our area half of our time because of the Visitors Center. Our investigators are so ready for baptism (Roslyn, Paradize, Lucia, Teddy, Sang) that they need FULL attention. Not 50%. So the Lord let us prepare them, right up to the point of baptism, and now that they are committed and ready, the Elders will baptize them and take care of them FULL TIME. Our investigators deserve full time love and attention and we can't give that to them. I am so grateful for the TINY role I was able to play in these beautiful people's lives. We did our part, and now we are moving on to new things. I felt the Spirit kindly and comfortingly tell me that I did my part, that it is in the Lord's hands, and that He would take care of my investigators. It was a beautiful experience that I will hold dear to my heart throughout the rest of my mission. It will carry me through. I know the Lord is involved with every single detail of each one of our lives.
     I love change. It's hard to explain, but I always have. Dealing with change has always come easy to me. I know it is a gift from Heavenly Father. I love meeting new people and going to new places and having new experiences. I love learning and growing. As much as I LOVE San Leandro and Sister Harper, I am so excited for this new change and new step in my mission! If I have already learned and grown so much, I cant imagine how much MORE I can learn and grow. I am so grateful for these changes and experiences!!!!! 
     This was the best week of my mission numbers wise. Numbers means how many lessons, new investigators, referrals contacted, ect. This may seem backwards because we only had one night in our area AND we found out that we had the night off about 3 hours before. So we set up all of our lessons for the day of. The reason it seems backwards is BECAUSE IT IS. We prayed our hearts out and went forward in faith and the Lord blessed us so much. We taught 7 lessons and got 2 new investigators and contacted 4 referrals. This is what happens when you pray to the Lord in faith and say, "okay we have one night in our area. PLEASE help us use our time wisely. PLEASE guide us to who is ready. PLEASE help everyone to be home. But most of all, we pray for the Spirit." We worked right up until the last minute and just sat in the car and cried with gratitude for the day we were able to have. That day happened to be THE ONE DAY it didnt rain all week, and my three month mark. Coincidence? No. There are no coincidences. The one day it didnt rain was the day we were outside all day. Hello. Tender Mercy. That was one of the happiest days of my life so far. 
     My sweet and thoughtful grandparents wrote me a beautiful letter that touched my heart. One point they made came from James 1:2 and that is
"Count it all joy"
      Count it all joy. All of it. Life. Trials. Temptations. Heartache. Loss. Sorrow. Change. Consider it joy. Be grateful for it. For these are the things that help us become like Heavenly Father. These are the things that help us use the Atonement and grow to know our Savior. Not just know about him, but know Him. As a person. Of course this is all easier said than done, but James counsels us to "count it all joy" because it tries our patience and helps us become PERFECT, which means whole or complete or "wanting nothing." We are commanded to be perfect. Trials are the stepping stones that get us there. So we should be grateful for a way to become like the Savior. When you come across a big change in your life or a loss or a trial, count it as joy. "Okay how can I use this experience to learn and grow." Then when we overcome it, we look back and say wow I am grateful I went through that because I learned patience, or trust, or humility, or the importance of prayer, or the sacredness of the sacrament. I can truly count that all as joy.
     Merry Merry Christmas! I hope you are so so happy. I hope you feel the JOY that comes with celebrating the birth of the Savior!!! Spend time with your family. Drink hot chocolate. Wear Christmas socks. Listen to music. Enjoy the snow I MISS IT. Watch ELF. Snuggle. I love it. I love all of it. Sending my love and best Christmas wishes from rainy but happy California.
Love,
Sister Brinton
Christmas for Sarada and her family
Akashana is an angel.
district meeting
The Assistants being Santa
the elders brought us a pie!!

gingerbread house and popcorn!!

shishkabobbing chicken!!!!



The Bowens came to visit!!!!
Sister Taylor, Housely, Resendiz, Nistler, Diaz, Harper, Herrera, Fetzer, Benosa, Jorgensen, Wasson, Obando, Chiang
Chipotle 0:)

Monday, December 14, 2015

400

Hi hi hi! 
     I can't believe another week has flown by. I am happier and happier by the minute. How could I not be?? I am the luckiest missionary in the world. I serve in the most beautiful place with the most beautiful people sharing the most beautiful message with the most beautiful family and friends supporting me. Hello??? I am so thankful for this special time I have as a missionary.
     I just found out about 2 minutes ago that my area (San Leandro) is being taken over by Elders next transfer!! So I don't know where I am going, but I know I am being transferred. Transfers are on December 29. I haven't had time to process the fact that I am leaving but my initial reaction is that I am heartbroken! It's unbelievably beautiful how much I have come to love these people that I have served, ward members and recent converts and investigators and all. They become like your family, and I've only been here for 2 transfers! I have this pit in my stomach thinking about leaving the investigators we have worked so hard with, investigators who have come so close to baptism or have so much potential. I have a longing desire for the ELDERS who replace us to love the people as much as I do. I know the work in San Leandro will move forward when we leave, but MAN I wish with all my heart I could be a part of it. I already miss it and I am still here for two weeks! Weird feelings, but I EMBRACE change and can't wait for a whole new chapter of my mission!!! So exciting. Bring it on. Appreciate the time you have with the people you love in the place you are because you never know when it will end!
     This week we only had 4 hours in our area hahah oh wow. BUT we made the most of it! We had some awesome lessons and contacted some awesome referrals. Ann Helen is reading the Book of Mormon on her own from the very beginning. So awesome. Lucia is out of the hospital and is ready to keep learning. We started from the beginning because we didnt know which lessons she had officially had from the Elders before us. We taught her the Restoration and it went so well. She understood everything and the Spirit was so strong. She told us that through all of her searching for a religion that was right for her, she finally found the church she wants to join! She is awesome. 
     THE HIGHLIGHT of my week was Elder Larry R Lawrence of the Seventy coming to our mission!!! At the beginning of the meeting, President Frandsen announced a new mission goal. Our goal is to reach 400 baptisms in 2016!
"He commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith, and 400 baptisms, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another." 
Mosiah 18:21

When we reach this goal, it will be a 15% increase from this years baptisms. Elder Lawrence said he can count on one hand the number of missions that have increased that much over one year in baptisms. He gave us some guidance on how to reach this goal. 
    Say WHEN we achieve this goal, not if.
  • One name for Christ is "The Holy One of Israel." He was a descendant of Israel and His mission call from the Father was to this home, to Israel, to the lost sheep. 
  • We are literal descendants of Israel. We are children of the covenant. 
  • WE WERE CHOSEN BEFORE WE WERE BORN. We were chosen because we demonstrated our obedience in the premortal life. We demonstrated our spirituality (the ability to recognize truth then act on it).
  • Why did we win the war in heaven? 1. Jesus Christ 2. Thetestimonies that were born. That was us! That was OUR testimonies. We are still bearing our testimonies. That war isn't over, the war goes on!! 
  • We are the only earth that is wicked enough to crucify our Savior. Why is our earth so wicked? This earth is Satan's headquarters. He is the literal God of this earth. He lives here. 
  • Why would Jesus Christ come to this earth? Because He had to descend below all things. ALL things. He had to come to the most wicked earth so if we got up to judgement day and said, "Well it was really hard for me because I lived on the most wicked planet where Satan lived," Jesus Christ would respond, "That's where I lived, too. I know how you felt. I know how hard it was to live there." 
  • Why would Heavenly Father send us to the most wicked earth?? Because we proved ourselves in the premortal life. We are strong enough. It also provides the most growth and opportunity to become more like Him because there is so much opposition. He puts His strongest soldiers on the front battle line. 
  • Why did we agree to come to this earth? Because we love Jesus Christ and because Heavenly Father promised us so many blessings.

1. Be Believing.
    Rid yourself of DOUBT
2. Plead with Heavenly Father
3. Include it in EVERY prayer
4. Personally commit 
      We can apply these steps to any righteous goal we have. Choose a righteous goal, something that requires faith, something that has a gap that only the Lord can fill through grace and exercise FAITH. I am so excited for this new goal and grateful that I will be here all of 2016 to be a part of this marvelous work. Don't hesitate to pray for us to reach 400 baptisms, every prayer counts :)
     I went into the Mission Tour very prayerfully. I prayed for a lot of personal questions or things that I was struggling with. Every single prayer was answered to my heart through the Spirit through this mouthpiece of the Lord. Whether the Lord says it, or his servant says it, it is the SAME! It was as if the Lord Himself came to MY MISSION in California and gave us advice and guidance, so I took it as such. I tried to approach it humbly and teachable, and just as the Lord promises us, He taught me and I received answers to my prayers. 
     Sister Lawrence gave an amazing talk/presentation about the premortal life and our lineage and our role as the House of Israel that literally changed my life. It changed everything. I was getting wave after wave of the chills as she spoke of our divine nature and our responsibility here on earth. It was unreal I wish you could have BEEN THERE! I will try to explain some of her main points. 
      When we pray to find the "elect" we are praying to find the rest of the House of Israel. Their believing blood will recognize the truth of the Book of Mormon. We are here among gentiles to be a LIGHT and a LEAVEN to all those around us.
     Sorry I know that was probably really scattered, it all came from my notes but I learned so much and the Spirit was so strong!  One of my concerns was exact obedience. A lot of the Elders and Sisters in my mission are totally hard core about exact obedience and I started to get really frustrated with myself because I kept failing. I kept falling short of little tiny rules and I was being really hard on myself. I was comparing myself and it was wearing on me. I went to the conference with a prayer that I would receive some guidance regarding exact obedience. Lo and behold Elder Lawrence gave a full sermon on it. He reminded me that exact obedience is not PERFECTION! I was striving to be perfect! How silly of me!!! It is impossible to be perfect. I was striving for an unreachable goal. He reminded me that being exactly obedient was toSTRIVE to be obedient, make mistakes, repent, recommit, and move on. With this process, we become consecratedmissionaries. We wont want to break the rules. We will be working towards sanctification. And the reason that ANY of this is even possible is through Jesus Christ. HE is the reason that we can change. HE is the reason that we can improve and fix our mistakes and move on and BE BETTER TOMORROW. The only thing we should be comparing is ourselves to how we were yesterday compared to how we are today. 
     My sweetest Momma sent me the most inspired quote. I am so grateful for a Mother who is so in tune with the Spirit and loves the gospel. She is the most righteous and faithful example to me. I do not deserve a Mother like her.
"I have learned a truth that has been repeated so frequently in my life that I have come to know it as an absolute law. It defines the way obedience and service relate to the power of God. When we obey the commandments of the Lord and serve His children unselfishly, the natural consequence is power from God --power to do more than we can do by ourselves. Our insights, our talents, our abilities are expanded because we receive strength and power from the Lord."
-Elder Richard G Scott
      She said, "Right now you are obeying the commandments and serving his children unselfishly and you have received that POWER OF GOD!!!! Isn't it marvelous. Isn't it wonderful" I was overcome with humility and she shared this encouragement with me RIGHT when I needed it. 
     I had a very special experience that touched my heart. As you know during Christmas schedule we switch stations and companions all night. I was on a station with Sister Housekeeper, one of my Sister Training Leaders, and we were just greeting people and laughing and talking with them. Elder and Sister Jepperson (a senior couple who work in the Mission office) came over and we were chatting with them. All of the sudden Elder Jepperson looked me right in the eyes and with tears in his, said, "The Spirit just told me that you were called here for a reason, to this exact Visitors' Center. You are so special. You are perfect for the job. You are absolutely glowing and I know the people can feel your love and joy. You are bringing people to Jesus Christ just by smiling at them." Amid all the commotion of the Visitors' Center, the Spirit quieted things down and testified to the both of us. It was the most beautiful and sacred experience. I am grateful for his sincere testimony. It made me cry (surprise surprise) but oh my tender mercies like that are seriously answers to unspoken prayers of my heart. 
     We did the math and a mission in the Lord's time is 3 minutes. 3 minutes. I am determined to make every second count! To go forth with a sense of urgency and determination. I am so grateful for this sacred time! Especially this Christmas Season. I echo my DARLING Daddie's testimony:
"I'm grateful that the Savior loves me enough to teach me, to hear me, to die for me. JOY to the world! The Lord is come! Let earth receive her King! I am in awe of his atonement and his power to heal and give peace to His humble followers. I can't imagine my life without Him!!"
Merry Merry Merry Christmas,
Sister Brinton
Sister Harper, Sister Fetzer, Sister Jorgensen, Sister Housley and me at the mission tour! All VC Sisters
Sister Tam! VC sister she is so cool!
This is Roslynn! Please excuse my ghost face?
This is our ZONE! i love them. The elders were so excited to be VC elders haha
These kids were playing with a snake so of course I had to say hello!


Sister Schaerr and Sister Lee
Elder Cruz (our district leader, he is HILARIOUS) and Elder Kulka his companion
Sister Lawrence, Elder Larry R Lawrence's wife

Sister Williams (Employment), Sister and Elder Jorgensen (Family History)! One of my MANY grandparents here.
Sister Herrara, Sister Diaz, and Sister Winters (all VC sisters)
Brother Simpson hahahah
Sister Muench. She is the new sister here and I've taken her under my wing. I love her
Keven Garces (best friend from Utah State)'s mom!
Sister Payne (employment center) My 50th grandma here on the mission I LOVE HER
I LIVE HERE