Monday, June 27, 2016

I'm so juiced!

Hi!!!
I love you!
This was a wonderful week. I love Oakland and the people and the adventures. 
     We started the week of on exchanges with our sister training leaders and I was with Sister Chiang! We got to go street contacting in Berkeley, which is on the University of California Berkeley campus and everyone is SO intellectual and liberal it's insane. I am used to talking to people on the street who just let you in and say, "Praise the Lord!" Instead we were talking to students who say, "I am not sure my theological standpoint on the topic, but due to my research I have found that.." I just bore my testimony most of the time haha. Definitely a different experience than downtown Oakland! 
     Most of our thoughts and prayers have been for Earnest this week. He is such a sweet heart who has a good heart. So we dropped Earnest because he was NOT progressing. He wasnt reading or praying and didnt want to come to church and wasnt keeping the word of wisdom. Later that week, he called us back and said, "Sisters, I stopped drinking coffee." The next day he called and said, "I want to come to church on Sunday." That night he called and wants to set a new baptismal date. It's a miracle! He came to church and LOVED it. We are going to pick him back up and see if he is willing to commit and change. Maybe dropping him was something that we needed to do to so he could realize that something needed to change! 
     One day we went out tracting. Tracting takes a whole lot of faith. Faith that you are in the right place. Faith that the Lord will place people who are prepared in your path. Faith that you will touch the hearts of the people. Faith that you arent wasting your time. So, after about 5 doors we knocked on the door of this Chinese lady who had JUST moved here. She said she has wanted to be a Christian her whole life. We gave her the info for the Chinese English class and have an appointment to teach her this week! Then comes the ultimate miracle. There was a Hispanic guy cleaning out his car and I introduced ourselves to him. I told him that we shared a message of Jesus Christ and asked if this was something he and his family would be interested in. He said, "yes." We met his whole family: beautiful wife and 2 sons, one is 5, one is 3, and a 1 year old daughter. They were all GLOWING and couldnt stop smiling. We kept talking with them and he told us that they are planning on moving to WEST JORDAN, UTAH in July!!!!! They said they have some family in Utah and they want to move somewhere more safe. We set up an appointment with them and left. A lot of people that we talk to are nice and its hard to tell if they are really interested or if they are just saying yes to be nice. We got in the car and looked at each other and we knew that this family was different. They are so prepared. The Spirit told us that they were ready for the gospel!!!!!!! We are SO excited to teach them and if they dont get baptized here, they will FOR SURE be baptized in Utah haha. This just strengthened my faith so much, that the LORD DOES place people in our path who are prepared to hear the gospel. A FAMILY. It has been my absolute dream to teach and family and watch them change. I am so grateful for this experience.
     They do this really cool thing here called a mini mission. It's where priests and laurels get to go out with the full time missionaries for a weekend! So we had a sister named Sister Latu come live with us for the weekend. She did everything with us: exercise, eat, study, teach, ect! I think she loved it. What an awesome experience to see what a mission is really like! She was fun to have around and it kind of re-kindled my greenie fire! She was so amazed and some things that I had gotten used to. She talk me some of the bay area slang:
   "that's my slap!" = that's a good song
   "that food is smack!" = that food is delicious
   "I'll swoop" = I'll pick you up
   "hecka" or "hella" = that was so fun! That was hella fun!
   "I'm so juiced" = I am so happy 
Yeah so I felt pretty white learning all of these and more.
     Sister Taylor told me a story I wanted to share. She said that her cousin was at the MTC and one of the teachers asked for a volunteer to come up. Her cousin went up and the teacher asked him "What if you died and Jesus Christ came to you and said, 'The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints isn't my church.' What would you say?" Her cousin said something so profound, "Then you aren't the Christ." This story touched my heart. He KNOWS that this is the Lord's Church!!! With everything in His being. He knows that the Savior Jesus Christ and His priesthood are at the head of this church and it HAS been restored. I love that statement and have been thinking about it all week. This is His church. He guides and directs it. My testimony of that grows stronger each day as I work alongside Him and STRIVE to be like Him. It's so hard!! It's taking everything within me. Every ounce of energy. Every waking moment. Every thought. It's exhausting, but it is SO rewarding. I am here to give my all. to Him. and He is helping me do so. I love it. I love being a missionary. Especially the hard parts because I have grown closer to the Savior because of them. 
    I was reading in 3 Nephi about the people who believed Jesus Christ would come, but they began to doubt their faith because it had been so long and Jesus Christ still hadnt come!! People began to mock the believers and their faith in this so-called Messiah. The believers began to wonder if their joy and faith and hope was in vain! in 3 Nephi 1:8 it says, "but they did watch steadfastly for that day, that they might know that their faith had not been in vain." Sometimes it does feel like our joy and faith is in vain. Sometimes it feels like it's too late, the miracles and blessings and hopes are past. We question ourselves: did my faith count for anything? Was I hoping for something fake? Are my prayers being heard? I bet the righteous people who believed in Jesus Christ and had faith in His coming felt this as people ridiculed them. They were sorrowful thinking, "what if my faith was in vain?" BUT they did watch STEADFASTLY!! They wanted to prove their faith. This gives me strength to exercise my faith when I am full of doubt. Let us watch steadfastly and continue to be faithful even if people are mocking us and our faith. The Lord and His promises are sure. There are blessings ahead for the faithful!!
I love you all!!! Have a wonderful week.
Love love love
Sister Brinton
Visitor Center Sisters

Sister Herrerra

ghetto Hippie car



Morning run with Sisters Chiang and Harper

beautiful run




I took a nasty fall on the trail

Yummy Vegetarian Pizza Place called Cheeseboard in Berkeley


Sister Chiang on exchanges





Sister Herrerra

Sister Herrerra is going home

Mediteranean Buffet 

With Brother Aliling

Me and Angel Love (recent convert) matching
rolled sushi
sister Harper

Rafil's Baptism
Our mini Missionary Sister Latu

Sister Herrerra

Monday, June 20, 2016

Happy Summer!!

Happy official day of Summer!! YAY! :) The weather here is GORGEOUS. I cant get enough of it. The heat does bring out the city smells with it but it's all the Oakland experience. This week was a whole lot better than last week!! All of your thoughts and words and prayers and love helped me a ton. Heavenly Father, the scriptures, and prayer helped the most though. There is a peace that comes from prayer that you cant find anywhere else. I have found myself turning to prayer multiple times a day, even if it's just a quick prayer like, "Please help me," or "I can't do this on my own." He answers our prayers, the silent pleas of our heart. 
     Our mission President gave us some advice about dropping investigators. He said that we need to focus on finding those that are prepared so if we have investigators that we are just holding onto forever and they are not progressing, MOVE ON! We took his advice and we are dropping Earnest and Davion. They arent progressing or showing any desire or commitment. It is hard and sad, but we have faith that we will find those who are truly prepared. One day this week, we had 5 lessons set up with potential investigators and planned on finding 8 new investigators. We set awesome goals and prayed so hard and had so much faith!!! The first persons house we went to didnt exist. When we called him, he didnt pick up. So we went to the next house and found that she wasnt in our area. So we passed her off to the elders. Then the next one we had the wrong address so we finally got a hold of her and she told us the right address, which was also in the elders area. We split the area with them. It was a family of 5 from South Africa who had come into the Visitors Center wanting to learn more. I just burst into tears. We were working SO hard and I was trying SO hard to have faith, but everything was failing. Everything. How are you supposed to have faith when it feels like there have been so many disappointments? I was feeling a huge mix of emotions. I was mostly sad and told Sister Taylor, "I just want to teach someone." I have always had someone to teach on my mission so this is helping me learn and grow and love and have patience. I know there are people and blessings up ahead. The gospel allows us to have faith when it feels like there is none. One of our lessons did work out with a man named Jimmy!! He is from Vietnam and he is very prepared. He wants to find out the truth, he prayed for us in our first lesson, and he wants to know the purpose of life. I cant wait to meet with him again. We havent been able to schedule something with Magnus and we found out that that Indian lady is going back to India in a few weeks, but her family might be interested!! So much potential! 
     The man I have been keeping in touch with at the Visitors Center over email, David, said he is going to fight with his busy schedule and Satan to meet with the missionaries!! YAY!!! He asked me about Satan's tools and I got the chance to research this topic. We shouldnt dwell on Satan or study him, but it is important to find out how he works and what tools he uses so we can DISCERN! All of our negative thoughts come from him and once we realize that, we will be quicker to push these thoughts out, which takes away his power. 
Interesting discussion we had:

     "And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." Ether 12:27

     When we come unto Christ, we are trying to become more like Him. To become like Jesus Christ, we have to overcome our weakness. This requires humility. He wants to help us to become like Him, so He shows us where we need to improve. He shows us our weaknesses. On a mission and as a missionary, we represent Jesus Christ. We come closer to Christ than we ever have before. This means more and more of our weaknesses are being revealed because He is putting us through the refiners fire. He shows us our weakness so we can become more like Him!!! He shows us what we need to work on, then helps us. We have to be humble. We have to let Him change us, change our hearts. When we distance ourselves from Him and don't want to change/improve/become like Him, we think we are fine how we are. It's because we haven't come to Him with a willing heart, sincere about change. He's not going to point out our weakness or help us if we don't want Him to. We turn to Him, He turns to us. I am grateful for a Savior who wants to help me grow, improve, change, progress, and succeed.
Take some time to just watch the clouds. 
Listen to what the Spirit has to say to you after you pray. 
Feel the peace the gospel brings.
Turn to the Lord. 
be BRAVE enough to ask to see your weakness!!
He will show you, believe me. He just keeps on showing me haha
I love you
I love the Bay Area
Warriors lost the championship Pensive face
Forever,
Sister Brinton
cute married Hannah


400!!

cool house we found while tracking

Happy 9 Months

Fun Graffiti

Fentons as a reward for our diet

The NIELSENS are the BEST

Monday, June 13, 2016

Half Way

  Hi! I hit my half way mark on Thursday. 9 months. Crazy. It has gone by super fast but super slow at the same time. I cant believe how much I have learned and how much more I have to learn and experience!! I am going to make this half of my mission even better than the first!! 
     We had a pretty normal week, except for this MIRACLE day I have to tell you about :) We had a lesson with Earnest and when we finished we said, "Okay Earnest, that is all the lessons we have to teach you!" He said, "Okay, when's the baptism?" He is so funny haha he asked if there was going to be chocolate cake there. We are a little worried about the word of wisdom with him, but we fasted on Sunday to show our faith (so hard & scary). We set his baptismal date for July 3 because we were going to set it as July 2 but he doesnt like the number 2 hahaha. Then we finally got in contact with Davion, the 10 year old investigator and he was quiet at first, but then he opened up and he wants to be baptized as well! June 26 for him! Then we went to contact a former investigator and she wasnt home but her mom was so we taught her the 5 minute Restoration lesson and she said she wants to learn more! She speaks Tamil, the same language as Sarada, so we are going to bring her to the lesson! After that we went to see if a former investigator was home, Magnus, and he was!! He is from West Africa, in his 30s. He opened the door and just ranted on and on about how he missed the missionaries and he asked us why we havent been calling him or coming over any more. He said he was trying to get Sundays off so he can come to church. He told us that he knows the Book of Mormon is true and he LOVES reading it. He practically explained the Priesthood to us and said he knows its the authority from God and wants to be baptized. We just stood there with our mouths WIDE open. We couldnt believe what we were hearing. MIRACLE. We have an appointment with him this week! So many miracles. This area is so precious to the Lord, and to us.
Parking is a PAIN
There are SO many fun shops and hole-in-the-wall restaurants. 
I am learning the area!
It was cold this week.
I love Sister Taylor.
     I had a hard week! I was frustrated and stressed and homesick. It hit me really randomly. I haven't felt like that in a very long time. I was growing and learning in San Lorenzo, but the Lord brought me to Oakland, a new place with new people and new trials so I can learn and grow MORE! We don't progress without challenges. 

“Some of you may at times have cried out in your suffering, wondering why our Heavenly Father would allow you to go through whatever trials you are facing. Our mortal life, however, was never meant to be easy or consistently pleasant. Our Heavenly Father knows that we learn and grow and become refined through hard challenges, heartbreaking sorrows, and difficult choices.These trials present us with the real test of our ability to endure."
President Thomas S Monson

     I am grateful that the Lord loves me enough to push me. I am grateful for PRAYER. So grateful that I can confide in my Heavenly Father. He is a perfect listener. It is in reading my scriptures and praying that I feel the peace I seek during hard times.
     One of my best friends Timmie Bowie is my IDOL. She is serving a mission in Georgia and this was part of her email this week. I had to include it because I could not have said it better myself. 

 "I definitely recognize I am far from worthy to a servant of Jesus Christ. But I am grateful he is giving me the opportunity anyway. To become better, to learn from my mistakes, and to have humbling experiences that bring my closer with my Savior. How frustrating it must be to work with some as imperfect as I am, but he does it anyway. I hope to learn to emulate Him more fully in everything that I do and say."

I love you. Thank you for your love and support and prayers. I can feel them. They push me and help me to smile even when I'm hurting! I am so lucky to have you. I love being a missionary. I am grateful for this chance to grow.
Love,
Sister Brinton
Dinner with the Ata'ata Family

Yummy Vietnamese restaurant - went with a member family

Sister Taylor



District Activity

Monday, June 6, 2016

I LOVE OAKLAND

Happy Monday!!
     I am the happiest/most exhausted I have ever been!!! I am absolutely in l o v e with everything about the new area, people, ward, apartment, and my companion! We had an awesome week and there are many more beautiful, miracle-filled weeks ahead of us! I can't wait to tell you all the details! AH!
     So the San Lorenzo ward threw me a little going-away barbecue on Memorial Day, which was SO fun. I love them! Sister Benosa and I finished the Book of Mormon on Tuesday morning right before transfers. Transfers are pretty stressful because there is a whole lot of packing and unpacking, BUT there is no time to do it haha. My luggage was in our car for two days, until I finally had time to bring it up stairs, and I STILL havent fully unpacked haha but it's all good! We are busy, busy, busy! 
      The first morning in Oakland, we played a huge game of ultimate frisbee with the whole zone. I am working really really hard to learn the area: the streets, the people, the ward! It's exhausting but the Lord and my companion are helping me. She is leaving in 5 weeks, so I will probably stay here and get a new companion so it is really important that I learn the area. It is very different from San Lorenzo or San Leandro: smaller streets, crazier drivers, lots of people everywhere, trash, ect. But it is WONDERFUL. We went to a authentic Mexican taco truck in the ghetto and it was DELISH! 
     Every morning Sister Taylor and I run down to this BEAUTIFUL lake called Lake Merritt. It is adorable with lights around it and geese and cute people running and homeless people sleeping. I love it. I love being outside. We have a HUGE to-do list of places to go and restaurants to eat at before Sister Taylor goes home :) There is SO much to do in Oakland!! 
     Church was wonderful. There are about 90 active-ish members! So diverse. The ward was so welcoming. The 1st counselors name is Brother Brinton so we are trying to find a connection! SARADA is in my ward and it was SO good to see her. She is beautiful and active. Wow. 
     Our investigators right now are all kind of flaky. There is Kevin, Earnest, and Davion. Kevin is a golden investigator, about 50, who is struggling with tithing. Earnest is also 50 and doesnt like to be pushed. Funny story about Earnest: Every time he prays, he says, "God, I know you are as sharp as a tack." hahaha Davion is 10 and his mom is getting in the way. We are going to find some new investigators!! So much potential here. We are already seeing miracles like getting a hold of people they havent heard from in MONTHS. 
     We are almost half way with out 400 goal!! We are at 150! Our Visitors' Center goal is 1300 referrals, and we are thinking about doubling the goal because we are already at 900! Beautiful work. 
     One night we were at the Visitors' Center waiting for our less active to show up so we could have a lesson and this guy walked in. He walked around, looked at the Christus, and just kept looking around. All of the sisters who were on shift were busy, so I went over to him and started talking. Luckily our less active texted and said he would be late. If he would have been on time, we wouldnt have met him, George. We gave him a 45 minute tour and just ended by sitting in front of the Christus for like 15 minutes! He was just STARING at the Savior and kept saying, "wow." We got his information and he is so golden, so willing to have the missionaries come. Unfortunately they are just outside our area. But I know we were supposed to be there for George. God works in mysterious ways. He loves all of His children. 
    One interesting thing Sister Taylor and I discussed was how the Lord commands us to repent & to not procrastinate the day of our repentance. I always viewed this as like, "You better repent or else I am going to come and you wont be ready so hurry up and repent!" Which I guess is true, but I like thinking of it this way: Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ want us to repent because they want us to be happy HERE and NOW! They dont want us to wait to repent because we are sad when we sit in our sins! Yes He is coming and yes we need to prepare, but they are telling us to repent so they dont have to watch us be sad. Repent to be happy.
     I came across this scripture in my studies and LOVED it:

"And it came to pass that I was three days and three nights in the most bitter pain and anguish of soul; and NEVER, until I did cry out unto the Lord Jesus Christ for mercy, did I receive a remission of my sins. But behold, I did cry unto him and I did find peace to my soul."
3 Nephi 38:8

  This is Alma the Younger talking to his son about his conversion story. He was SO sad and harrowed up by his sins and lost and confused and depressed. He never found relief or peace or joy or light until he turned to the Savior. There is no other way. Only through Jesus Christ. We have to turn to Him if we want forgiveness or peace. We cant do it on our own. We need Him to heal us. Through Him, we can find true peace. 
     I am so happy. I LOVE Oakland. I LOVE being a missionary.
XO
Sister Brinton!  
Earnest

Sister Taylor

Bye Sister Tam

Bye Sister Benosa :((

Taco Truck

Waiting in this Creepy hotel

Angel, a recent convert, who comes to lessons with us. I love her


Random puppy at the lake

Goodbye BBQ

Sister Thornton

Stuck behind a walker and my luggage in the backseat
Sarada and Abinkshana
Sister Costa and I matching :)

Marina

Our cute apartment




Our pet giraffe, Kevin (They found him on the side of the road)



Lake Merritt