Wednesday, October 26, 2016

MIRACLES!!

Hi friends :) 
 I am so happy. I am so so happy and I love being a missionary more and more every day!!     
     This late October/early November period is SO critical to our 400 goal. We have to find people NOW to baptize them before December 31, 2016. Every single prayer we plead, we include this goal, asking the Lord to guide us to people who are prepared, asking for the Spirit to help us know what to say. We have to do our part. We have to pray and study and plan. THEN we go out and we act. We open our mouths and extend baptismal dates. I can tell you that Heavenly Father is LITERALLY placing people in our laps. I have never seen so many miracles in my life. These miracles are 100 from the Lord, nothing that we could have done on our own. It is just so obvious that this is HIS work with HIS people and we are just the instruments.
     -Daniel came into the Visitors Center in July and Sister Chiang has been keeping in touch with him on and off. They hadn't talked in a while, and she "randomly" decided to text him (nothing is random). He responded that his cousin was just talking to him right then about the church and he knew this was God working in His life. We set up a lesson with him and he couldnt get over the fact that God was leading him back to this church again and again, perfect timing. He then found out that his co-worker was LDS. Yet another sign from God. We had one of the most incredible lessons I have ever had on my entire mission with him. The Spirit was so strong. He is so sincere, so prepared, and when I asked him if he would follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized by someone holding the Priesthood authority of God, he said, "Absolutely." AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!! In the lesson, we read 3 Nephi 11, which is Jesus Christ appearing to the people in the Americas. He couldnt get enough of it. He told us he knows this is a testament of Jesus Christ. In the last verse Jesus Christ says,
"Therefore, go forth unto this people, and declare the words which I have spoken, unto the ends of the earth."
He said, "Doesn't he say something similar to that to his disciples in Matthew?"
"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." Matt 28:18
I told him, "Daniel. Jesus Christ died and was resurrected. He appeared to the people in Jerusalem and taught them this. Then He appeared to the people in America and taught them the same thing. You are exactly right." He said, "Oh I just got the CHILLS!"
We set a baptismal date for December 4th and he came to church for the second time yesterday.
     -Mauricio is progressing slowly but surely. He is so sincere. He really wants to know if this is the path he is supposed to follow. We had a lesson with him that was honestly (I know I always say this, but I am serious this time) top THREE lessons I have ever had on my mission. AH! The Spirit was so strong you could cut it with a knife. We taught him the plan of salvation (I like to call it the Plan of Happiness). He said, "I have been searching for these truths for my whole life. I went to preachers and they couldnt tell me the answer. I mean I knew the general idea of this plan, but you are filling in all the gaps, all the questions I have had." I testified that it is because of the Restoration of the gospel and the Book of Mormon that we have these answers!! We talked about baptism and asking God if he should be baptized. We asked him what he was going to do if he found out this was God's plan for his life. He said, "I am going to get baptized." We asked him when he was going to ask God. He said, "Tonight."
     -Noreen was a student we met at Mills college. We decided to try out campus contacting here, it was our first time. Noreen was the second person we talked to. Hi have you ever seen missionaries like us before? Yeah I have! Did you have the chance to talk with them? Yeah actually I was meeting with them for a while back at home in Massachusetts. Oh thats wonderful did they teach you about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith? Yes! Did you go to church? Yes! Why did you stop meeting with the missionaries? Well I came here to school! Do you want to meet with us? Yes what time is church tomorrow? She texted us later that night, "I know that God put us together today." The fact that we decided to go to Mills college THAT day. The fact that we decided to turn right on THAT side walk. I mean HELLO?!?! The Lord is literally guiding us to people who are prepared! All we have to do is ACT and open our mouths.
      -Deb is an Indian student at Berkeley. We started talking to him and he asked where our church was. I said, "It's just up the hill. Wanna go see it?" He quickly agreed. I didnt realize what I had just said until we were all walking toward the chapel. I have never ever said that to anyone! It wasnt me, it was the Spirit!! We taught him the Restoration in the chapel and gave him a Book of Mormon and he felt the Spirit for sure. He agreed to come to church the next day. The whole ordeal was about 10 minutes. We just stood there in AWE when the door closed behind him.
I have never ever ever been so happy in my entire life. My eyes are stinging with tears as I write this. My heart is overflowing with gratitude. It feels like my chest is going to burst! I have never felt so fulfilled or productive or close to the Lord. I hope this never ends.
     There have been COUNTLESS miracles like these all over the mission. There are two areas that havent baptized in 3+ years and this weekend both areas saw the same miracle: A family moved into their ward with a nine year old who hadnt gotten baptized yet. The families are fully active and they called the missionaries and said, "Will you please come teach our 9 year old so they can get baptized." On exchanges, Sister Chiang and Madsen got SIX self-referrals at the VC. This means that someone walks in, they give them a tour, and at the end they fill out a referral card with their information on it saying they want missionaries. THREE of them are in the Oakland 9th area. These people are falling into our laps. It is nothing we can do. It is the Lord!! My prayers at night are just full of gratitude. I stand all amazed and the MIRACLES the Lord is working here. He works according to our faith and diligence. 
     One morning this week Sister Chiang and I were discussing the importance of our calling as missionaries to preach repentance & the gospel. We came to the same conclusion that many of the Prophets have come to, which is this:
"Our duty is to preach the gospel to all men. … This is what God expects of us." President John Taylor
“We have come to this earth upon a mission… To go forth and warn the nations of the earth. Very few of us fully comprehend our position, our calling, our relationship to God, our responsibility, or work the Lord requires at our hands” President Wilford Woodruff
“We as a people have one supreme thing to do, and that is to call upon the world to repent of sin, to come to God. And it is our duty above all others to go forth and proclaim the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, the restoration again to the earth of the plan of life and salvation." President Heber J Grant
"Surely taking the gospel to every kindred, tongue, and people is the single greatest responsibility we have in mortality." President Howard W Hunter
"After all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the Gospel." President Joseph Smith
      I imagine up in the pre-mortal life Heavenly Father took us aside and we listened intently as He lovingly said, "You will be born into the gospel, but all those people in the other room won't be. Your job is to help them find me so we can all be together again one day." I imagine we readily & excitedly committed to do everything to build His kingdom here on the earth!! We pass through the veil and maybe we lose that excitement, maybe we get caught up in other important cares and worries and responsibilities. Have we lost sight of the ULTIMATE goal? Of course it is important to go to school and work and develop our talents and raise our kids and fulfill our callings. But the REASON we are HERE on this earth is to bring Heavenly Father's children back to Him. When our spirits remember this beautiful privilege, there will come into our lives a new FIRE and DESIRE to share the gospel. Our OWN testimonies will be strengthened in the process. We will experience greater love and appreciation for the Lord and His gospel. We will have a more grateful heart, because we realize the precious blessing that the gospel is in our lives, that we have been taking it for granted!! As we discussed this, its like my Spirit was jumping up and down inside of me. I can't really explain it. I felt this sudden and overpowering NEED to run out of my apartment and share the gospel with every person I could see. My Spirit remembered what I promised to do and so when we talked about it, my Spirit was like, "YES!! YES!!!!! LET'S GO!!" We were both in tears. 
     I love this work. I love the gospel. I love the Lord. I love you!!
LOVE
Sister Brinton!
Fentons








Bye Sister Resendiz :(

Thanks for the Halloween Decorations!

hahahahahahahahahah

Don't Show these to ANYONE!! OOPS

Lunch with some members

Exchanges

My first Pupusa (Stuffed Tortilla)

Sister Gonzalez from New York. She has been out for 3 weeks!

Love my new dress



Caramel Apples!!! YUM!!! Sister Chianges first one!



activity at the institute
Exchanges!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

2,600

It really is just hard to put into words how happy I am and how much I love my mission. This morning I was on a run around the temple grounds with a beautiful view overlooking the entire bay, Oakland, the Golden Gate bridge, and I just started CRYING! I was overcome with joy to be right where I was, serving a mission. I was overcome with how blessed I am and how happy I am. I just wanted to hug Heavenly Father hahaha. We had a WONDERFUL rainy Autumn week.
     We had an awesome lesson with Mauricio, he is so sincere. He is so so busy but there is sincerity there, unlike some of our other investigators.
     We reached our 2,600 referral goal for the Visitors Center!! WHOO HOOO!! We are planning to reach well over 3,000 for the year!! We are ALL going to Fentons today for ice cream to celebrate!
     Our ward is planning their HUGE annual Halloween party and they are utilizing us to pass out invitations to people as we campus contact hahaha. 
     We always see so many miracles when we are on exchanges. I was with Sister Shkapich on Saturday and we had NO lessons planned for that day. Nothing. It was blank. I havent had a day like that in a very long time haha. So, we set out to contact people on campus. We carried a Book of Mormon, Restoration pamphlets, Oakland Temple cards, and a paper and pen. The time FLEW by!! We were out there for 5 hours straight on Berkeley campus talking to EVERYONE we saw. We taught EIGHT lessons!!!! Thats the most I've ever taught in one day on my mission. And when we totaled up our combined numbers at the end of the day, we taught TWELVE lessons that day! Record!!! We met so many wonderful,  diverse people and got some great potentials who are so interested and have been searching for God. My testimony of the Restoration of the gospel gets stronger and stronger every time I tell someone that God is not dead and He continues to speak to us and we are not in darkness anymore because of Joseph Smith's prayer. I always teach with a huge smile on my face and tell people, "Because of this message, we know that God lives and loves us!!!" I love this message. I love these people. I wish I could watch myself walk around Berkeley and talk to people haha sometimes people take pictures of us lol. I love going home EXHAUSTED knowing that you talked to EVERYONE and planted lots of seeds. This gospel is what brings true JOY.. I am living proof!!! I just want to be a missionary for the rest of my life. This is the best thing ever. I dont know if anyone reads these emails but if you are thinking about going on a mission, GO. If you are too old to go on a mission, or already served, share the gospel. You will be happier and you will love the gospel more. 
    I loved this quote and thought I would share.

"Don’t yield to Satan’s lie that you don’t have time to study the scriptures. Choose to take time to study them. Feasting on the word of God each day is more important than sleep, school, work, television shows, video games, or social media. You may need to reorganize your priorities to provide time for the study of the word of God. If so, do it!" Richard G Scott

ALWAYS
Smiling Sister Brinton
Exchanges Round 2!!

Sister Contreras

The Poulsens came to visit!!! (previous VC directors)

Exchanges

The Neves! She reminds me so much of my Grammie!


I LOVE Sister Shkapich


Scarf Weather

Fenton's Ice cream

celebrating reaching our goal at the VC

Jolly Wonder

Another week already over. Time FLIES here in Berkeley! We are seeing so many miracles, teaching so many people, and experiencing so much JOY! I love this work. 
     We got four new sisters straight from the MTC!! So fun to have new faces & fire at the Visitors Center. 
     We contact people on Berkeley campus a lot, but this week we decided to try Laney Community College in Oakland. It is a GOLD MINE!!!! It is very different from UC Berkeley, one of the most prestigious colleges in the nation haha. At Laney, everybody walks a lot slower and are a lot more willing to talk with you for longer than 5 seconds. We spent 6 hours there one day. A member named Bee, a return missionary, came with us for the first hour. She is HILARIOUS and so bold--talking to everyone!!! "Hey ya'll! Have a blessed day!!!" with the biggest smile on her face. I loved it. She inspired me to really talk to everyone, especially when we are in a rush because that's when the miracles come! We were on our way to the car and we met a man named Vincent. He was on his way to class but we asked if we could meet him after class and he agreed! A few hours later, we were waiting where we agreed to meet, and talking to people as they passed. Sister Chiang talked to this Chinese girl and actually began teaching her at a table. Vincent walked up (answer to the pleadings of my heart) and I started talking with him on the OTHER side of the table. It was SO cool. Sister Chiang and I on opposite sides of a table teaching different people the same beautiful message. 
     Vincent has a little bit of religious background and has actually met with missionaries before. He told me that he was thinking about calling the Mormon missionaries just days before. He told me that he has an emptiness inside of him that he is looking to fill. I was able to testify to him with all my heart that God had led us to him today, that God knows him and loves him. I told him that the message we share will fill the hole in his life!! I could see a glimmer of hope in his eyes, that he wanted to believe me. I taught him the Restoration with the sun blazing in my eyes and the Spirit was SO strong. I cried as I recited the First Vision. I told him I was crying because this message has changed my life and I can feel God's love as I share it. I told him about the Book of Mormon and invited him to read it and he said, "Okay! Where should I read?" We talked about baptism and he said, "So whats the next step? Where do I go from here?" I taught him how to pray and he said the most sincere prayer.
     I did not do that experience justice. I can't explain how prepared he was. I KNOW that the Lord led us there today for Vincent. He isn't YSA so we passed him off, but he felt the truthfulness of the Restoration as I bore my testimony. Every time I teach the Restoration, my testimony of it and my conviction that it is true MULTIPLIES!!! We have a lot more people to baptize to reach our 400 goal. We have to set stretch goals and talk to everyone to reach them. When we do our part, the Lord does His!! 
     The title of this letter is in honor of a Bible request we received from a freshman named Jolly Wonder. He is from Nigeria!! We had a lesson with him and it went so well! We finally got a text back from a girl named Yu Chen from China that we have been trying to get a hold of. I met her on campus a few weeks ago. I am so glad we didnt give up on her!!! She came to institute dinner and ate three grilled cheese sandwiches hahaha. We had a great lesson with her. I love teaching people who dont have any religious background because we get to teach the gospel so simply. She kept saying in her broken English, "You are such cute girls!!" I know the light that she saw was the Spirit. I cant wait to teach her more.
     We had a lesson with Mitchel after a little break. Still working hard to overcome his addictions and have humility. Still has a date set for November 14!! We are still in contact with Emanuel and Mauricio. It can be tricky trying to set up meeting times :( But I know the Lord has prepared them! We will see more miracles with them this week by inviting them to be baptized!!!!
     Two funny things. We were street contacting and this lady walked up to me and said, "Are you pregnant?" I just kind of stood there and looked around in shock... After a second I said, "Uh no actually I'm not." She said, "Oh! Because I was going to say Congratulations!" Hahahaha to give her the benefit of the doubt my shirt was really flowy and it was a windy day, but STILL!! I took a deep breath, ignored the previous comment, and invited her to learn more about the sogpel. She said no but hey at least I tried! The other thing is that people CAN NOT for the LIFE of them understand how two 20-year old girls share a cell phone. That concept is just 100% foreign to them. No matter how many times I explain, they still dont get it hahaha! 
    One morning during companionship study, we were reading in Preach My Gospel about how the gospel blesses our families. Almost all of my companions grew up in sad & broken families. Five out of seven. I was just sitting there in companionship study and thinking about all of this. I asked Sister Chiang if it was hard to teach and testify about eternal families, when she doesnt even have one right now or doesnt FEEL like families are eternal! She told me that it is so hard (she doesnt open up like this very often) and that it was one of her biggest concerns coming on a mission. She asked President Frandsen about it and he said that all she has to do is teach what she believes, not what she has personally! For me the two go hand in hand!!! What I believe and what I have personally are the same! HOW RARE in this sad world is that. I was filled with sorrow for my companions' families and the too many broken families around the world. I almost felt guilty for my PERFECT family! What I grew up with and continue to love and appreciate and thank GOD for is hard to find these days because it is exactly what God wants a family to be. I was just sitting there with literally nothing to complain about. I just CRIED! I was raised in a LOVING home filled with the Spirit. I have FAITHFUL and RIGHTEOUS parents who love each other and love me! My Daddie is a worthy, kind, and faithful Priesthood holder who works so hard day and night to provide for his family. My Momma is a loving, patient, and selfless handmaiden of the LORD, raising SIX beautiful children. I was raised in a Christ & gospel centered home. I have countless active extended family members. I was constantly surrounded by love and support and happiness and faith. I don't think I will ever FULLY be able to express sufficient gratitude for these incredibly beautiful and sacred blessings that I took for granted for 19 years. I honestly went through waves of sorrow, then joy, then guilt, then gratitude, then humility all day thinking about my family. I am so lucky. I dont fully realize what we have. At least I didnt until this moment. I am going to do everything in my power to replicate the situation I grew up in when I have a family of my own. I am eternally grateful for my parents. I honestly can not ever thank you enough. Thank you for your faithfulness to the Lord and to each other. Thank you for your dedication in raising us in the gospel - no matter what!! Thank you for your tear stained pleadings and visits to the temple in my behalf. Thank you for your UNCONDITIONAL love!! I LOVE YOU more than words can express.
From my studies: 
Christ speaking:
      "Verily I say unto you, I commanded my servant Samuel, the Lamanite, that he should testify unto this people, that at the day that the Father should glorify his name in me that there were many saints who should arise from the dead, and should appear unto many, and should minister unto them. And he said unto them: Was it not so?
       "And his disciples answered him and said: Yea, Lord, Samuel did prophesy according to thy words, and they were all fulfilled." 3 Nephi 23:9-10

     I have been noticing this beautiful truth in my studies recently. The Lord ALWAYS fulfills His promises. He always has and He always will. It is part of His nature. He will always do His part. He will always keep His deal. We can trust Him 100% with no reservation because of this beautiful truth. Whenever a blessing isnt granted or a promise fulfilled YET, we need not fear. We know in whom we have trusted! His timing and ways are higher than ours. We need to have faith, hope, patience, and long suffering. I also know that ALL of the prophets words will be fulfilled because they are His mouthpiece and they would never lead us astray.
I am blessed beyond measure. We all are!
There is sunshine in my soul all of the days.
Love
Sister Brinton
Zone training meeting








Celebrating Taiwan's birthday



Sister Costa and Flores


Ballroom dancing for FHE




Sister Nelson and Rice

Emily


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

253/400

Happy October! It's feeling a little bit more like fall around here :)
     We got transfer calls on Saturday night and there are a lot of changes! Only Sister Chiang and I and one other companionship are staying the same out of all 20 Visitors' Center sisters! We are getting 4 new sisters from the MTC, sending 4 sisters from the VC out into the full proselyting field, and saying goodbye to Sister Houskeeper. Sister Harper and Fetzer are leaving the VC.. I am going to miss them so much! I have made some of the most beautiful friendships on the mission that I will cherish forever!! I feel like I am saying goodbye to my family when these sisters leave. I am so happy to stay in Berkeley with Sister Chiang and can't wait to see how these changes help all of us grow! I know they are inspired of the Lord and President Frandsen. Out of serving in the VC for a year, this is the peak of how well the sisters are getting along, the Spirit that we feel here, and how unified we are!! After VC training on Thursday, we all did a huge group hug and cried saying goodbye to Sister Houskeeper. It was so special and sweet.
     General Conference was SO perfect. I woke up on Saturday feeling like it was Christmas morning haha! I could just hardly wait to watch it. We got to the Institute and no one was there to set it up, but after my mini panic attack, someone came and I started breathing again. Sunday morning we all had waffles and ate them by the fire. That helped me miss my family a LITTLE bit less. I love knowing we were watching the same thing at the same time :) We watched the rest of the sessions at the Visitors' Center. The Spirit was so strong. My heart was so full. When we sustained President Monson, tears were running down my cheeks and I felt the Spirit confirm that this sweetest man was indeed the PROPHET of the Lord. I just knew it without a doubt. The tears continued to flow as they scanned over all the apostles. I was so proud to raise my right arm and sustain these men. My heart was absolutely filled with gratitude for each one of them. I dont know how many of you saw but at the end of the Sunday morning session, the camera showed President Monson waving to the congregation and the congregation waving back, then he did a big thumbs up :) I love seeing all the faithful saints together listening to our leaders! AH I wish Conference was every weekend haha.
     There were so many talks about missionary work!! WHOO HOO!! This was my last Conference as a full time missionary of the Church. I felt overwhelming peace and a sweet confirmation in my heart that I was exactly where the Lord wanted me! Serving a mission! This is the most important work on the earth, and I am blessed enough to be a part of it here in California. I know that the Lord inspired these men to talk about missionary work to remind all of us how important it is! Many things struck my heart and testimony throughout Conference. I wish I could share everything I learned and everything I loved: the emphasis on prayer, repentance, Heavenly Father's plan of happiness, finding JOY. One doctrinal point that was mentioned countless times is that God is our loving Heavenly Father. How powerful! Out of all things the Lord wants us to know and remember is that we have a Father in Heaven who loves us and we are His children and He knows us by name. So simple, yet so profound. Here is a quote from Elder Nelson about joy that I loved:

"When the focus of our lives is on God’s plan of salvation and Jesus’s gospel, we can feel joy regardless of what is happening—or not happening—in our lives. Joy comes from and because of Him. He is the source of all joy."

     This ward is so fabulous. All we have to do to have a member come to one of our lessons is shoot them a text, "Hey can you come to a lesson?" and they respond, "Sure!! What time?? Which part of the lesson can I teach?" SO AWESOME. Sometimes we have 3-4 members come to a lesson! YAY YSA return missionaries! I am going to be just like them when I get home from my mission. It has really changed my perspective on member missionary work. I have repented of not helping the missionaries before my mission and have committed to be better when I get home!! Especially feeding the missionaries haha.
     We had a great lesson with Mauricio. At the beginning of the lesson, he said he had a lot of questions and we encouraged him to ask as many questions as he wants! He didnt ask any questions throughout the lesson and at the end he said, "wow, all of my questions were answered." He is so great. When I explained the restoration of the Priesthood, he said, "wow, that's cool." AH! I was like I KNOW! haha We added another new investigator named Emanuel from Ghana. I just talked to him when we were street contacting on campus. He said he has been church hopping and wanted to meet with us! The lesson went so well. We havent heard from him since. Students are so busy! 
     Some of you remember Tiffany, the 16 year old we taught in San Lorenzo.. Her parents finally gave her permission to be baptized!!! WHO HOO!! 
     I started the Book of Mormon studying faith!! I look for how the people demonstrate their faith, how they lack faith, how their faith grows, ect. I have learned so much and have LOVED studying this way! I recommend picking a topic and studying a BLANK Book of Mormon this way.
     My heart is just so full of gratitude for the gospel and the restored truths we have. I am eternally grateful for this short precious time I have to share it with His children here. I am happy & healthy & blessed.
Love love love
Sister Brinton

Pumpkin Ice cream

Bye Sister Fetzer :((




Korean Food called Bim Bu Bap


Exchanges with Sister Mikkelson and Housekeeper

I love California

:)



Exchanges with Sis Contreras and Shkapich


Some YSA Members