Monday, January 11, 2016

Sacrifice Brings Forth the Blessings of Heaven

   We had a pretty good week! Things have slowed down since the holidays. I still love Sister Zhong and she is still the cutest tiniest thing on the earth. We get along super well and are experiencing this adventure happily! If I had a scripture to describe Sister Zhong it would be this one: 
      "But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do goodand tlove God, and to serve him, is inspired of God." 
Moroni 7:13 
   She is so pure and kind and just good to the core!! I love being around her and am definitely a better version of myself around her.
   I love my district. It is so fun to still be in the same zone because I get to see people I already know and have already served with! and I love them!! My new district is a party all the time. We all have really outgoing district and so we laugh pretty hard. So fun! Also, the Elders in my district are serving in my old area, San Leandro, so I get weekly updates on my old area!! It's so fun and I miss San Leandro but I LOVE San Lorenzo.
   We have 2 investigators getting baptized on February 6: Keith and Tori. Keith is an older man with slicked back gray hair. He is super religious and has a lot of questions. We do our best to keep the Spirit and not argue. I notice myself just sitting there smiling trying not to stab him sometimes. I just sit there and breathe until I can finally respond in a kind loving way. This is always more effective than the stabbing. He comes to church every Sunday. He is really struggling financially and has no family and is going through a lot. I admire his faith and he has helped me realize that I often take all of my blessings (mostly the people I love so much) for granted. Tori is 15 and her friend Sam got baptized in November. She has taken much better to the Sisters than she did the Elders. The Elders couldnt get her to pray, and knowing this, we went into the lesson and taught prayer. We made sure to emphasize the fact that God is LITERALLY our Father and He loves us more than we can ever comprehend and He knows us by name. He wants to hear from us. He listens to our prayers and He wants to help us. I then offered an example prayer and we asked her if she would pray. She readily agreed and offered the most sincere and sweet prayer I have ever heard. The Spirit was so strong and none of us could stop smiling. I think getting her to understand the relationship we have with our Father in Heaven was KEY. This is another wonderful blessing that I take for granted. My Momma sent me this beautiful passage by President Uchtdorf that really touched my heart: 

"God has given again in these latter days the truth about where we came from.Why we're here, and where we are going. 

Much of the confusion we experience in this life comes from simply not understanding who we are. 

One of the most beloved storytellers of all time was the Danish writer, Hans Christian Anderson. In one of his stories, The Ugly Duckling, a mother duck discovers that one off her newly hatched chicks is unusually large and very ugly.The other ducklings cannot leave the ugly child alone. They punish him mercilessly. 

The ugly duckling decides it would be better for everyone if he left his family and so he ran away. Then one day he sees flying overhead a flock of majestic birds.He takes flight and follows them to a beautiful lake. The ugly duckling looks into the water and sees a reflection of a magnificent swan. The ugly duckling realizes that the reflection is his own. He has discovered who he really is. 
Think of where you come from. You are sons and daughters of the greatest, most glorious being in the universe. He loves you with an infinite love. He wants the best for you. This knowledge changes everything. It changes your present, it can change your future, and it can change the world. If only we understood who we are and what is in store for us our hearts would overflow with such gratitude and happiness that it would enlighten even the darkest souls with the light and love of God. 
Of course there will always be voices telling you that you're foolish to believe that you're swans. Insisting that you're but ugly ducklings. And that you can't expect to become anything else. But you know better. You are no ordinary beings. You are glorious and eternal. 

I plead with you, just look into the water and see your true reflection. It is my prayer and blessing that when you look at your reflection you will be able to see beyond imperfections and self doubts and recognize who you truly are; glorious sons and daughters of Almighty God."

   I love this sacred truth and CRY every time I explain this beautiful truth that so many daughters of God have NO IDEA exists. 
  We have two other investigators: Ron and Emily. Ron is Sam's (Tori's friend) Dad! He is also an older man, full goatee. We are having a hard time finding out if he really "gets it." He was a preacher before and he goes along with everything that we say, but it's not like the Spirit is testifying to him that it's true, it's more like he just loves God and its a feel-good experience, more than a lesson. He just goes on these rants about how good God is, which is fabulous, and He knows the King James version of the Bible like the back of his hand. So we are just trying to get him into the Book of Mormon, He just quit drinking coffee so that's great! Emily is an older Hawaiin lady who called us and said I want to be baptized before January 25 because my grandson is leaving. We were like what the. We went over to her house and taught the Restoration and she loved it! It went super well and she came to church! We found out that she smokes and not only that but she doesnt plan on quitting any time soon, so we had to tell her that she cant be baptized before January 25th because in our mission we have a rule that you have to live the Word of Wisdom for 3 weeks prior to your baptism. So we will see how that goes. 
   We love love the ward and I have never seen a ward so focused on and motivated to do missionary work. We are fed every single night and it feels like home! We love it. 
   We had an amazing Visitors' Center Training this week. We all went over to the Poulsen's home (our Visitors' Center directors) and had a big breakfast. They are leaving next week and we get a new couple, the Wards! So exciting, and sad. After breakfast we had an amazing discussion/fireside sort of thing. As a mission, our Mission President asked us to make a personal sacrifice to become more dedicated to our goal of 400 baptisms. So we decided to make a Visitors' Center sacrifice. We discussed all together (10 companionships of Sisters, and 3 companionships of senior couples) what we could sacrifice to become more consecrated missionaries and to improve the Visitors' Center. We decided on our language, what we talk about. We decided that this would be challenging for us because we are all hormonal women living in very tight quarters spending a lot of time together and I know it sounds crazy, but there is drama, yes even though we are missionaries, SURPRISE. It would also have a huge effect on the spirit of the Visitors Center because imagine how hard it is to transition from talking about snuggling with a boy in the back of a truck to bearing sincere testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ. Yeah, the Spirit isn't there and you are distracted and didn't provide what that person needed that day because of what you were talking about. Why would Heavenly Father send one of his precious children to the Visitors Center when we aren't ready to receive them. SO after we all decided on that and committed to hold each other accountable, the Poulsens bore their departing testimonies and we all knelt in prayer. I can not describe the Spirit that filled that room. It was absolutely tangible. Everyone was weeping. 26 set apart, dedicated, righteous missionaries kneeling shoulder to shoulder giving our hearts to our Father in Heaven. REcommitting everything to Him. Expressing our love for one another, our sincere desire to repent and improve and sacrifice. I will never forget that moment and have replayed it in my mind many times since. 

"For am the Lord thy God, and will be with thee even unto the end of the world, and through all eternity; for verily seal upon you your exaltationand prepare throne for you in the kingdom of my Father,with Abraham your fatherBehold, have seen your sacrificesand will forgive all your sins; have seen your sacrifices in obedience to that which have told you. Go, therefore, and make away for your escape, as accepted the offering of Abraham of his son Isaac." D&C 132:49-50
   Sacrifice helps us to be humble and allows the Lord to bless us more than he could have otherwise. Blessings are in accordance to obedience. Sacrifice is supposed to REFINE (purify or improve) us, and Christ is the Great Refiner. It's not supposed to be easy. We have to TRUST that our sacrifice will be worth it. Many are called (on missions) but few are chosen (to serve in Visitors' Center, 2% to be exact). 
   One thing that has been super hard for me this week: Sister Zhong speaks fluent Mandarin and Cantonese and so she gives a TON of tours in Chinese. I have to go with her (obviously) even though I dont speak a lick of Chinese (obviously) and I have no idea what's going on. The first 300 tours were really interesting and entertaining. But after that, I just started feeling like such an idiot and I would just stand behind her and not even pay attention. It really started wearing on me. I dont feel like a missionary when I am just standing there awkwardly like an idiot and she is leading tours like there is no tomorrow. Sister Zhong doesnt make me fee like this at all, it's nothing SHE does, it's just the situation. And yes, Chinese people are important too. It's just hard. If there are two groups of people that come in, one English, one Chinese, we always take the Chinese tours. Seeing how happy Sister Zhong gets when she sees a Chinese person almost makes up for it. I just haven't given a solid English tour in a while, so it's hard to be excited when a group of Asian's come in and I can't do my job, I can't do what I am called to do. I try really hard to pay attention and smile but they dont pay attention to me. Sister Zhong is an amazing missionary and I can feel the Spirit when she teaches, even though it is in another language. It has definitely made me appreciate the English tours that I DO get to give. Gotta make 'em count! I am grateful for this chance to forget myself and learn! It's not about ME and how many tours I give and the testimony I bear. It's about THEM. Its for THEM to have a spiritual experience. And if they are going to get that from Sister Zhong and Sister Zhong alone, wonderful :)
   There is definitely a new and special Spirit about the Visitors Center. We have all been naturally more kind and sincere and talk about uplifting things. People that come in can feel the Spirit that's there. It feels more peaceful and sacred recently. AND we have also seen miracles!!! Now that we have a more powerful Spirit in the Visitors' Center, our Father in Heaven is sending the prepared elect to us!!! We have had 4 or 5 people within the last few days walk into the Visitors Center and ask to be baptized (two of them were Asian). I am convinced that Sister Zhong has brought a special Spirit to the VC. She was so excited to come back after being in the field for so long, I think it helped us realize how much we took it for granted. And Heavenly Father is sending prepared people to her because she is prepared to teach!!! It has been beautiful to watch! Also on chat (we answer chats) I had two people message and ask how to join our church. They willingly gave me their address and I sent the missionaries. 
   There is beautiful work happening here and all around the world brothers and sisters! I am so grateful to be such a small small part of it! We recite our purpose as missionaries every day and at the end we both smile and say:
"How great and short is our calling!"
   I love the work. I love the sleep. I love the Chinese accent. I love how all Sister Zhong eats is noodles. I love the knots in my back and the weird dreams. I love YOU! I owe everything to you for all your love and support. But I love my Savior. I am in awe with every new thing I learn as I study the New Testament and feel myself coming to know Him as a LIVING being. He is our Savior. He loves us. He atoned for each one of us and He would do it again. He is perfectly obedient and the perfect example. I hope my life can emulate His one day.
Have a HAPPY week,
Sister Brinton

I'm not kidding she's the cutest thing on the earth.
Mini Golfing with my District

Sister Zhong

Sister Taylor
Sister Benosa

Im not kidding she is the cutest thing on earth.

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