Monday, January 23, 2017

The Church of later DeSantis

 We knew Heavenly Father loved us this week because of the miracles we saw, the free food we received, and the rainbows that came after the rain.
     David is on track to be baptized on Saturday!!! Oscar is on track to be baptized on Feb 4th! Sister Chiang and I set a goal to baptize two people this transfer. the transfer before she leaves. We will have two baptisms this transfer. One this weekend, one the next. YAY for GOAL SETTING! 

"And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive." Matt 21:22

    I admire Sister Chiang so much, for working so hard until the last day of her mission. She only has two weeks left and we are working as if we just got to the field. We are happy and healthy and LOVING EVERY SECOND!!!!!!!! How great is our calling. and how short.
     I went campus contacting with Sister Herbine at Berkeley! I got some materials and locked the car. A thought popped into my head (the Spirit) to grab a Book of Mormon. I dont usually carry one with me, but I grabbed one and stuck it in my bag, not thinking anything of it. The sun was out for 5 minutes, then it would rain with black clouds for 5 minutes, then sun again. Sweating, freezing, sweating, freezing. We talked to lots of people!! I love seeing all the different outfits and stlyes and people and cultures. I think we saw more men wearing make up than women! We keep seeing people we have talked to before because we come here so much haha. We were walking down a sidewalk with TONS of people and I saw a man we had talked to earlier this week. We stepped aside and he remembered my name! We chatted and suddenly he goes, "Do you have a Book of Mormon for me?" I almost said no but then I remembered that I had one in my bag!!!!!! I smiled and said, "yes." I gave it to him and he stuck it in his jacket because he wanted to keep it dry. I KNOW that that was the Lord who prompted me to put a Book of Mormon in my bag. That wasn't my plan! I didnt know I was going to see him again OR that he would ask me for a Book of Mormon!! This is the Lord's work and we are just His instruments. I learned that day the importance of listening to the promptings of the Spirit. I learned that day that the LORD is in charge. I learned that day that we just need to put ourselves out there and open our mouths. 
     It was 2:30 and we started walking back to our car, which was parked at the Institute parking lot because we needed to be at the Visitors' Center at 2:50. We were hurrying because we were all the way across campus!! On the way I thought of this quote, 

"It is not needful for … mine sisters to be moving swiftly … whilst the inhabitants on either side are perishing in unbelief."

 I had to talk to one more person. We talked to this Catholic guy about the Book of Mormon. He wasn't interested and we headed to our car. It was 2:55 and we were supposed to be at the VC 5 minutes ago. We were hurrying so fast and as we turned the corner to our car, I saw this super nice car pulling out of the Institute parking lot. All of the sudden the car backed up back into the driveway. The window rolled down and I look and who is it? M A U R I C I O!!!!!!!!!! Mauricio was our investigator last year but we lost contact with him. I RAN up to him and said "MAURICIO?!" A look of relief flooded his face and he said, "hi." I said, "NICE CAR!" I told him how much I missed him and we caught up a little bit. We havent seen him since the beginning of December. Then I asked, "Wait, what are you doing here?" He said, "I came to find you." I was just FILLED with humility and gratitude towards my Heavenly Father. I told Mauricio that we were supposed to be AT the Visitors' Center 5 minutes ago. I bore my testimony to him that this precious experience was the Lord's hand. This was a miracle. He made this happen because He loves us! Mauricio smiled ear to ear and said, "I know." He knows it was the Lord. He knows he was supposed to meet us today. He has lost our phone number and wanted to see us. So the Spirit guided him! He came to the Institute the exact time we were going to be there. What if we would have been 5 minutes earlier or later. Mauricio wasn't in our plans. It wasn't because we timed it perfectly or set good plans or said a prayer full of faith. Nope. It was all the Lord. AGAIN, we are just HIS INSTRUMENTS. What if we would have slept in all day because it was raining and we were tired. We arent allowing the Lord to work miracles or guide us to people or help us open our mouths. We have to wake up and do our part and go to work and open our mouths. The Lord does the rest. and more. I LOVE THIS WORK! Mauricio said he had overcome the problems and challenges that he was facing and was ready to meet with us.

Funny moments: 
1. I was following up with someone that I sent the missionaries to online. I said, "Have you been able to meet with the missionaries yet?" They said yes and I asked what message the missionaries shared with him. He said, "About the church of later DeSantis." It took everything in me not to say, "Oh wow! I have never heard of that church before."
2. We always pray together at the beginning and end of our Visitors Center shift. It was past closing time and we were trying to round everyone up to pray. We were kneeling in the room waiting for everyone to come in and I said, "Let's pray!" and Sister Chiang said, "Let's communicate with God!" 
3. There was a 4 year old little boy at the Visitors Center who loved opening the door and letting people in. Two ladies walked up and he opened the door for them and goes, "Here you go, old ladies!"
4. We were campus contacting in the rain and it was SOO windy! Everyone had umbrellas covering their faces and walking quickly and obviously didnt want to talk to us. I walked up in front of this girl and said, "HiI! We are missionari--," and right as I lifted up my umbrella a little bit to talk to her, the wind caught my umbrella and flipped it inside out and threw me backwards and my hair was wrapped around my head and I almost fell over. I fixed my umbrella and caught my balance and pulled my hair out of my face and looked up and she was just standing there with a straight face and walked around me. I looked over at Sister Contreras and she was bent over laughing soo hard. I wish I could have seen myself. We laughed for a while.
5. I was explaining who our investigator David was to Sister Ward. I said, "Bee is his boyfriend...sorry I mean girlfriend!" Elder Neves goes, "Well, this is the Bay Area." 

    We have been meeting with a few members of our ward each week and inviting them to share the gospel through Facebook. We pray, talk about it, have them pull out their phones and get on Facebook. They scroll through their friends list with a prayer in their heart, then pick someone, send them a video with their testimony!! It is really great! I know the Lord provides technology for us to share the gospel and spread it quickly around the world!!! So one of our members, Kaity, picked someone named Albert. He replied immediately and said, "I have been searching for God and wanting to get close to Him. I was just at a Christian booth on campus and you texted me. I will definitely come to church with you this Sunday." He came to church and we set a return appointment with him for this week. MIRACLES! This strengthened our faith and the faith of our members! We have been sharing this with everyone and it is motivating them to do missionary work and reach out to their friends!
     We gave a tour to a less active Togan girl at the VC. She said she was heading somewhere else but she felt something pulling her here. Reluctantly, she came in. The whole time she had tears in her eyes and kept saying, "I need to go back to church." I can tell you it was nothing that we said or did. It was simply the Spirit that she felt. 
     I had the sweetest experience the other day. A family came into the VC, a mom, dad, and two kids. They were raising their kids bilingual. The dad only spoke German to them and the mom only spoke English to them. They wanted to listen to the Christ statue and I asked them what language they wanted to listen to. They said, "either one!" So I chose German. Afterwards, the little girl, about 6 years old, said, "This was a reminder to me that He speaks all of the languages. I know that He loves us." I was speechless. She spoke the truth. He knows all the languages. He knows all the brains. He knows all the hearts. He knows all the cultures. He knows all the pain. He knows all the trials. And He loves all the people. 

"He inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female." (2 Nephi 26:33)

     I would love to testify of the peace that the gospel brings. It will fill our hearts. It will clear our crowded minds. It will calm our racing hearts. It will give us an eternal perspective. It will allow us to endure faithfully. I have watched the turmoil and suffering and confusion in people's lives who reject the gospel. I have watched the happiness and tranquility and strength in those who have accepted it. We cannot turn to the world for peace or happiness. Maybe temporarily. But that will soon fade. The only way to feel lasting peace is by living the gospel of Jesus Christ each day. He will provide us a peace we cannot find elsewhere. He Himself has promised:

"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you." John 14:27


Zone Activity

more rainbow

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Sister Gonzalez eating her first piece of gum in a year

package from Riley

Riley sent me the cutest necklace with the Oakland Temple coordinates on it


Exchanges with Sister Contreras

Our ward mission leader telling us we were great for the first time in 6 months.

We appreciated this text!


Thursday, January 19, 2017

Happy Week

We had a happy week! I got to go on exchanges with two sisters. I love exchanges because we learn and grow so much! We see so many miracles. We set a baptismal date with Oscar for February 4th! YAY! He is still praying about it. David is doing well and both of them came to church. We got a referral from of a Chinese girl who had met missionaries in Utah in June. She is half way through the Book of Mormon. We set up a time to meet with her and she asked if her boyfriend could come. OF COURSE! We taught in Chinese because he doesn't speak English, so whenever I taught, Sister Chiang would translate it into Chinese. I couldnt resist taking that picture of them, sitting so close on the couch learning about Jesus Christ for the first time. I taught them how to pray, then said, "We would like to say a prayer together right now." She lept to the edge of her seat and clasped her hands together and said, "REALLY?!" It was literally the cutest thing I have ever seen. She was so so excited to pray. I DIED. That made me think, "Do I feel like that about prayer?" It was so beautiful to see prayer from their perspective. You mean we can talk to God??? Whenever we want? And He will listen to us?? And even ANSWER us?? We had to pass them off to the Chinese missionaries but I am so grateful I got to have that experience. 

     We had a lot of time to talk to people on campus, now that school is starting back up! Although we dont see much success from talking to people on campus, we are planting seeds and the Lord sees our hard work. Also, it is worth getting rejected 399 times to find the 1 person who accepts the message of the Restoration. We still meet a lot of Atheists and people who say confusing things. The Spirit is not there because what they are saying isn't true haha. I am just like what in the freak are they talking about. Then we talk about the Restoration and everything is crystal clear. 
     I am so grateful to be a missionary. I love it. We have exchanges this week and a few great potentials I am excited about. 

     "Fill your mind with truth, your life with service, and your heart with love." 
President Thomas S Monson

Sorry for the lame email!
I love you!!
Sister Brinton

Security Guy named Jeff

After campus contacting in Berkeley

Fattest Squirrel in the world

Fenton's with Emily!!!

Sister Chiang teaching a Chinese couple! I couldn't resist taking a picture

Dancing on Berkeley campus!

Exchanges with Sister Smith


Hi from rainy California!  

Thursday, January 5, 2017

We reached our GOAL!!!

     We finally had a lesson with David! We caught up with him and Bee, his girlfriend, then they said they had some good news for us! He prayed about being baptized and set his own date!! He feels good about being baptized on January 28th!! WHOO HOO!!!!! I have never had an investigator set their own baptismal date. He went on to share how he has grown and how he knows God is real (huge step) and how his prayers have been answered. They will eventually be sealed!
     We havent heard from Mauricio and Oscar is out of town, but still reading and praying!
     There was a power problem at the Visitors Center so we turned all the power off for about 2 hours. It was exciting! The performance that night was called, "Embers of Christmas" and it was so appropriate as the lights flickered on and off. It was such a tender mercy that this power problem happened the very last day, instead of in the middle of the Christmas season. Wow Heavenly Father really loves us.
     I spent this entire year 2016 as a full time missionary. It is over whelming to think of everything that has happened. Time has really flown. I am really tired.
My year in review:
6 companions
3 areas
2 calls home
28 exchanges
10 weeks spent in the temporary Visitors Center
4 temple trips
4 zone conferences
1 car accident
6 weddings missed
6 companions when home
19 Visitors' Center sisters went home
339 mission baptisms
countless tears
countless laughs
countless lessons taught
countless tours given at the Visitors Center
countless taco trucks
countless people invited to hear the gospel
countless people rejected the gospel
countless prayers
countless miracles
     I was weepy all morning Jan 1 thinking about the year being over. Missions really change you. It has changed me. 
     No, we didnt reach our 400 baptismal goal. (We finished 2016 with 339 baptisms. This is just 4 fewer people baptized than in 2015, yet with approximately 22% fewer missionaries.)BUT we reached something better. I can not imagine my mission without this 400 goal!!!!! It would not have been the same. It changed my mission. I was here for the entire year. I prayed for the 400 goal every day. It motivated me every day. It helped me to set high stretch goals and work hard to achieve them. It taught me to really pray. It taught me to rely on the Lord 100% and accept the fact that I couldnt do this on my own. it helped me to give the credit to the Lord more than I would have. It helped me to recognize His hand. It helped me to have a better attitude about passing off investigators or referrals to other missionaries because it was for the 400. It created unity. I worked to eliminate doubt and fear. I grew closer to the Lord. I was more in tune with what He wanted me to do. I have never exercised faith like this before. Setting the monthly baptismal goal of everyone having a baptismal date by the end of the month, when we fasted and prayed to know if the goal was truly from the Lord, these experiences changed me and deepened my testimony. Some people have argued or murmured saying, "If the Lord was really in on this goal, why didn't we achieve it?" or "Why did the Lord want us to set this goal?" The Lord was 100% in on this goal. We are all stronger and better and more faithful and powerful missionaries and people because of it. The goal drew us to Him. It caused us to search our souls! Do I really trust the Lord? Is this really His work? We reached something way more precious and important than a few more baptisms. Our purpose as missionaries was more fully achieved with this goal. Wow I am so grateful for it. 400!
     We got a lot of time in our area this week! Quite a contrast to the Christmas season. Sister Chiang and I had an interesting discussion about how people in Berkeley are so different than the other areas we have served in. Most of the conversations we have with people are about having faith. Most of the people & students on campus we talk to are Atheist. A ton of people say they dont need a religion, they are just "spiritual." One guy even said, "I know it is so cliche of me to say because we are in Berkeley, but I am spiritual." Another interesting thing is that most of these Atheists were born into a religious family and aren't originally from the Bay Area.
     So we discussed, WHY. Pride. Accepting God and religion means they are admitting that they need something else. They need a higher power. They need something stronger than just themselves to be happy or to be forgiven, etc. They have to say. "I cant do this on my own." That takes humility! They are so smart and wealthy and independent and successful. But are they at peace? Do they have a knowledge of their divine worth? Do they have hope in their future? Do they experience joy when their burden or sin is lifted? It kills me when people say. "I am not interested." or "It's not for me." What do you mean you aren't interested? You aren't interested in being happy or forgiven? You aren't interested in seeing your loved ones again? It's not for you? It's for EVERYONE!!! It is for ALL! Joy, peace, truth, blessings, resurrection, forgiveness, it is for all. He who makes all of this possible to us declared:

"I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent." D&C 19:16
"He inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female." 2 Nephi 26:33

     When we talked with one Atheist, he said he would need a sign to believe in God. Sister Chiang kindly asked him what kind of sign he was looking for. He said that God would practically have to come down and stand here in front of him. I taught him how that doesnt require faith. I bore my testimony that I know God lives and loves us. he actually really listened to me. It really felt like a Book of Mormon story! Me asking if he believes in God, him saying no and that he needs a sign, me testifying of faith and of God's reality. Maybe I should have caused him to be struck dumb like the scriptures, to give him a sign. But I love opportunities to bear my testimony! 
I love you
This work is everything to me.
We are working harder than ever. The Lord's time is precious. Every second counts.
Yay for a new year with new goals and motivation. Hopefully we can all have a New Years Resolution to come closer to the Savior and share the joy of the gospel with OTHERS!
Christmas Dinner

New Years Eve Movie Night

Movie Night

My disgusting watch that is supposed to be white