Monday, November 30, 2015

Ann-Helens Baptism

     I know I just wrote on Thursday but so much has happened! :)
     Hi! I am so happy. I can NOT believe that November is already OVER! Time is literally flyyying! 
     Our Thanksgiving was wonderful. We had a totally traditional Thanksgiving meal and played dominoes afterwards. Sister Simpson sent us home with way too many leftovers. Sister Harper and I went home and watched Meet the Mormons! Totally slept through the whole thing but HEY, it was great. Definitely a Thanksgiving to remember. 
     The next day we had dinner at a members house. They are from Samoa and they LOVE to eat. We were still full from Thanksgiving dinner the night before and they LOADED our plates. They wait until you are eating first, then they start eating. So I made the huge mistake of eating all of it because what does the mom do next? Shovels a whole new plate of food for me. See, the key is to start eating right away, then SLOW DOWN half way, always making sure there is still food on your plate until you have to leave. Then they send you home with leftovers. You can drink all you want because its delicious ( half pineapple juice, half ginger ale, try it) and they will just keep refilling it. Some of the kindest people I have ever met.
     Friday our new Christmas schedule started at the Visitors' Center!! We are there practically all day, which leaves us barely any time in San Leandro, so we are kind of nervous about keeping up with all of our recent converts and investigators. But the Lord will provide a way and I am SO grateful that I get to serve this Christmas season up at the Visitors' Center. During Christmas schedule we switch around stations AND companions every HOUR! It has been sooo fun to get to know some of the other sisters a little bit better and spend time with them. All of the sisters and senior couples at the VC are amazing, I love them. They are like a second family to me, I mean, they are literally my 'sisters.' Thousands of people have come through this past weekend, and it's just the beginning! People from all over the world! Everyone is so happy, I just love to see all the different kinds of people and how Christmas and the gospel brings everyone together. We have lights and performances and hot chocolate, the whole sha-bang. The lights are like a winter wonderland. I am obsessed. BUT the most amazing thing is being able to share the new videos the church has put out and watching them touch peoples' hearts!! If you havent seen them yet, go to christmas.mormon.org to watch and share of course :) The videos are so powerful. One thing you will notice is the video "A Savior Is Born" isn't Christmas-y at all! It doesn't have one tree, one light, one Santa, nothing.. because THATS NOT THE POINT. The point of Christmas is to focus on the Savior, to REJOICE that He was born and that we have a Savior today. I am honored to be able to share my testimony of this every single day and Christmas makes it so easy!!! I can't wait to spend this entire Christmas season testifying of Him.
     Ann Helen got baptized on Sunday!!!! AAAHHHH! It was the most special thing. She is extremely shy so she only wanted a select few there. Her husband, who had finally consented to this baptism and was the reason she didnt get baptized for so long, came with her son, Thomas!! So special. My Visitors' Center Director, Elder Poulsen speaks fluent Norwegian, she is from Norway, and she had run into him at the VC. She requested that he be there. So that was also so special. Her friend/counselor Greg flew out from Georgia an HOUR before the baptism to baptize her! We fasted and prayed harder than ever that he would get here in time. Well, Heavenly Father answered our prayers and fasts (as usual) and everything was PERFECT. Seeing someone you love stand in that font dressed in all white and just BEAMING with happiness is a celestial sight indeed. She previously asked us if she could play the musical number and we readily agreed. She sat down and of all pieces, begins to play "Tale As Old As Time" from Beauty and the Beast hahaha. It made my life and took all of my self control not to sing along. Not sure the connection to the baptism, she just said it was her favorite song. It was beautiful. She was teary the whole night. When we were leaving the building, she grabbed her bag with one hand and her friend's (a recent convert) hand with the other and they ran/skipped/giggled to the car. I have never seen her so happy in all my time of knowing her. True joy. 
     I had a beautiful spiritual experience that I would love to share with you. Many of you have been to Visitors' Centers and have seen the large statue of Jesus Christ with His arms outstretched, the Christus. Well, there is a recording that goes along with it which includes several scriptures such as, "Behold, I am Jesus Christ" and "If ye love me, keep my commandments." It is a powerful presentation and moves many (me, every time) to tears. This is the first exhibit you see in our VC and we present it multiple times a day. A member family came in and wanted to see it. We introduced it, watched it, and began talking about it afterwards. I began to bear my testimony. There were 5 little kids, no one was really listening, and the parents were pretty distracted. I wasn't frustrated or anything because I quickly learned that this experience was for ME, not for them. I bore my testimony simply to the children. I told them that God loves us so much. Then when we tell Him that we are thankful, He blesses us even more. I told them that we show our love for Him by keeping His commandments. I began to cry as I bore this simple testimony because the Spirit confirmed to me that what I was saying was true. I bore testimony that keeping the commandments makes us happy. This may seem so simple, just a few simple sentences, but this was an extremely powerful experience for me. That's what is so beautiful about the gospel-it is so simple.
     When I simplify my testimony as if I was speaking to a child, that is when I feel the Spirit so strongly. Simple truths. We don't have to have these big elaborate testimonies that go on for hours and talk about deep doctrine. The most power comes with statements like, "Heavenly Father loves you" and "Jesus died for you." I treasure experiences like this that confirm my testimony and strengthen it. I already knew these things and have applied them in my life, but the Spirit never ceases to testify of truth, no matter how simple. It is SO important for us to constantly renew our testimonies of these simple, yet beautiful truths. 


"Sometimes, the truth may just seem toostraightforward, too plain, and too simple for us tofully appreciate its great value...This beautiful gospelis so simple a child can grasp it, yet so profound andcomplex that it will take a lifetime—even an eternity—of study and discovery to fully understand it...I inviteyou to step back, look at your life from a higher plane,and simplify your approach to discipleship. Focus onthe basic doctrines, principles, and applications of thegospel...you will discover that the gospel of JesusChrist is indeed working in your life. It works."
It Works Wonderfully by President Uchtdorf 
Temple hill lights!

I am so thankful for this sacred time I have as a missionary! Wherever you are in life, thank Heavenly Father for it because time passes too too fast.
"Consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God." Mosiah 2:41
I love you! Thank you for all your love and prayers. Keep Christ so so close to your heart this Christmas season.
XOXO,
Sister Brinton


This is after Ann-Helens baptism :)
Ann-Helen and her friend that baptized her, Greg
Christmas chocolate advent calendars



Our very own christmas tree 
Our christmas stockings and christmas lights :)
Peppermint hot chocolate in my santa mug 0:)

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