Wednesday, February 22, 2017

There's nowhere I'd rather be!

 Hi! It's so rainy, but it doesn't get me down. :) We need to be the bright sunshine since its dark and foggy. We need to bring the light to the darkness. I actually love the rain. 
     We are helping David, Daniel, and Oscar to get the Priesthood. They are all doing so well. They all got callings on Sunday! We had a neat lesson with Daniel. Before the lesson started, he told us that he had waken up at 3 am and couldn't fall back to sleep. He was thinking about his ancestors and was overwhelmed and stressed out about how they had never heard the gospel before. He felt the pressing need that there was work to be done. Guess what our lesson was about? Temples and Family History. We had this lesson planned a week ago. When we were planning out what lesson we should teach, Temples and Family History wasn't next on the list chronologically, but I felt drawn to teach him that. I testified to him that the Lord was preparing him to receive this lesson and to realize the importance of family history and temple work! After the lesson he texted us that this was his favorite lesson so far and all of his anxieties left him. He is SO excited to "baptize people all day." He also bought us a ton of groceries because he felt like thanking us over and over for what we have done for him wasn't enough.
     We are still teaching Madeline. She has a lot of questions and doubts, but she has the sweetest heart. Albert is wonderful!!!! His faith is growing so much. He is reading a chapter of the Book of Mormon and praying every day! He said he is finally feeling like God is listening. AH!!!!!!!!! When we invited him to be baptized, he said yes with no hesitation. It is so amazing to see someone with no Christian background taking these giant steps of pure faith. He is so sincere.
     We were on exchanges and a guy walked into the Visitors' Center who only spoke Chinese. I was with Sister Hsiao so she talked with him. He is from LA, met with missionaries, found out the church was true, moved here, and lost contact with missionaries. He lives in Sister Hsiao's area and wants to meet with them.
     Every single day this week, a member has reached out to us on their own and said something like this, "I have a friend who is really interested in the church and she is coming on Sunday." It is amazing!! This is the best ward! Sister Muench can't believe her ears haha neither can I! We have had 47 members come to lessons with us over the past several months. We are continuing to help them share the gospel through Facebook. I feel so blessed to serve in a YSA ward. At first, I was very intimidated because I was going to be with people my age on a prestigious college campus, but I have learned so much. It has changed my perspective and I WILL be a better member of my future YSA ward because of the opportunity I had to serve here in Berkeley. I am so grateful for the things I have learned. These members are such great examples to me. I know the Lord placed me here so I can be an active participant in my future ward. I dont think I would have felt this way without serving in a YSA ward!
     We were in Berkeley and I started talking about Mauricio. I told Sister Muench how awesome he was and how he was so sincere and how despite what everyone says, I am NOT giving up faith. I thought, ya know what? We are already here, let's just go see if he is home. We pulled up, prayed, and got out of our car. He was walking out of his house. I tried not to puke I was so excited and we talked and talked. We got his phone number and set up a lesson for Thursday. I bore my testimony to him that GOD has YET AGAIN led us together. I told him that God wants him to meet with us, why else would he lead us together so many times. He said he knows and he wont let this happen again. He said, "I always asked you how I can see God's hand in my life, and now I can see it. I am going to read the Book of Mormon. I want to grow my faith again." We said goodbye and just sat in the car SHOCKED!!!!!!!!!! I just thought about him randomly, not thinking it was from the Spirit. I KNOW he will join the church. Miracle. 
     I got to go to the beautiful Oakland Temple today. I felt so much peace and love. When I got set apart as a missionary, my Stake President told me that there were crystals on the chandelier in the Oakland Temple celestial room that twinkled together when the AC blew and made heavenly music. I was sitting there today listening to the heavenly music and was overcome with gratitude for the opportunity I had to serve a mission. Wow. 
     I would love to share something that I have been studying that has really strengthened my testimony. I was reading the Book of Mormon and came across this verse: 

"God also declared unto prophets, by his own mouth, that Christ should come." Moroni 7:23 

I thought it would be neat to read all the prophecies of Christ's birth from different prophets! I had no idea how much this study would impact my testimony of prophets, scriptures, Jesus Christ, and God's love. Just three beautiful references are:

Mosiah 13:33-35
33. For behold, did not Moses prophesy unto them concerning the coming of the Messiah, and that God should redeem his people? Yea, and even all the prophets who have prophesied ever since the world began—have they not spoken more or less concerning these things?
34. Have they not said that God himself should come down among the children of men, and take upon him the form of man, and go forth in mighty power upon the face of the earth?
35. Yea, and have they not said also that he should bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, and that he, himself, should be oppressed and afflicted?

Jarom 1:11
Wherefore, the prophets did labor diligently, exhorting with all long-suffering the people to diligence; persuading them to look forward unto the Messiah, and believe in him to come as though he already was.

1 Nephi 10:4-6
4. Yea, even six hundred years from the time that my father left Jerusalem, a prophet would the Lord God raise up among the Jews—even a Messiah, or, in other words, a Savior of the world.
5. And he also spake concerning the prophets, how great a number had testified of these things, concerning this Messiah, of whom he had spoken, or this Redeemer of the world.
6. Wherefore, all mankind were in a lost and in a fallen state, and ever would be save they should rely on this Redeemer.

     All of the prophets have testified of Christ. Their words were fulfilled. Christ came. He made repentance and salvation possible. He lives today. All of their words will be fulfilled. They are the mouthpieces of the Lord. We are so blessed to have their words and MODERN words from our prophets today. It is beautiful and sweet and sacred and unique. 
     There is no where else I would rather be. This place, these people, this work, and the LORD have my heart!
Sister Brinton!
Temple Day...Oakland Zone

Exchanges with Sis. Hsiao

Sister Muench's blue eyes

name tag


Exchanges with Sister Flores!

Geary Gao!!


Mary Beth

I got to go with Mary Beth when she received her endowment!

Sister Harper came to CA for this special occasion 

neatest district meeting white board of my whole mission

Graham cooked dinner for us!

Beautiful Bay Area!

Highlight of my mission: Going to the sketchiest burrito truck in East Oakland with my Mission President and his wife. BEST DAY EVER!!!

Daniel, Oscar AND David spoke at Why I Believe!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

These are Precious Moments

HI!!! hi hi hiiiiiiiiii   
  Oscar's baptism was AMAZING. There were 65+ people there, the biggest baptism I have ever been to. There were 9+ of his nonmember classmates there! They loved it and told me afterwards that they felt so peaceful. So many of the members were involved with the program: conducting, musical number, speaking, refreshments, etc. His classmate and friend, an RM, Raddison baptized him. His other classmate and friend, also an RM, Avery confirmed him at church. After his baptism, Oscar bore his testimony. He stood up and thanked everyone for coming. Then he said, "I testify that this is the true Church." He talked about how he used to be a Christian, then he abandoned God. He talked about how he feels God give him courage after he prays. It was a beautiful testimony. In Bishop Sherwood's testimony he said that when he was baptized 16 years ago, he said, "It is all or nothing. I am not doing one foot in, one foot out. I am not stopping until I become a Bishop!" So he warned Oscar because Oscar said something similar, like he only wanted to get baptized if he was 100% in haha. Sister Chiang and President Frandsen bore their testimonies!! Daniel said the closing prayer. Oscar's conversion to the church LITERALLY came because Raddison invited him to church one day.
     David & daniel are doing so well! 
     A nonmember just showed up at church yesterday named __ and we are meeting with her this week!
     The Oakland temple is closing February 1, 2018 for a minimum of a YEAR! There are renovating it and re-dedicating it with an open house and everything!
     I am so sad to see Sister Chiang go. If I could become HALF the missionary she is, I would be so proud. Wow she has taught me so much. I grew so much being her companion and serving alongside her. She has taught me how to be a leader, a good example, a kind friend, a goal setter, a hard worker, a powerful teacher. I love her. I admire her. I am SO blessed to have served with her for 6 months!! You really get to know each other living together 24/7 with no breaks haha. Poor thing putting up with me for so long. I cant believe her patience and longsuffering haha. She will continue to change the world starting in Hong Kong. I know it. 
     My new companion is Sister MUENCH!! Our whole missions we have been dreaming of the day we could be companions. That is what is so fun about the Visitors' Center. I already know her and serve with her and have been on exchanges with her. We are really, really good friends. I am SOOO excited to be with her. She is from Oregon and has been out for 15 months. We have both served in Oakland 9th and San Lorenzo! We were both companions with Sister Taylor and Zhong. Sister Muench is probably the most kind, patient, sweet, quiet, thoughtful, and calm person I have ever met! Besides Sister Chiang haha. No wonder I work so well with these sisters..we are polar opposites!! I am loud and sarcastic and selfish and spastic and rude and talkative!! I know we will continue to see miracles in this area. I am so excited to work hard! 
     I just have to give you all the details about one of the most amazing lessons I have ever had on my mission!! Top 5 easily. It was with our investigator Albert. He has no religious background. Please keep that in mind as I tell you about our lesson. One of our wonderful members, Tyler, came. He served his mission in India and is a powerful, Christlike teacher. The lesson started off great and I explained that scriptures are the teachings of the prophets and God's words. I asked him, "why do you think scriptures are so important to us?" Like it was a no-brainer, he said, "Because it is the word of God!" Kind of like, "why wouldnt you read the scriptures?" Imagine that. He has never even heard of God and here he is stating the importance of them himself. We began to read 3 Nephi 11, which is Jesus Christ's appearance to the people in the Americas. We read the verse that explains the "small voice that did pierce them to the center." Since I wasn't in the first lesson, I asked him if Sister Chiang had explained a little bit about the Holy Ghost. He said, "Yes, isn't it like a Spirit in us? And it's the way that God communicates with us." YES. We read on and he paused us asking why it took the people three times to hear the voice. HELLO! WHO ASKS THAT?! He is amazing. Tyler explained that we build up layers caused by distractions, sins, etc, where it is hard to hear the voice of the Spirit or the voice of God, but as we read the scriptures, go to church, pray, etc, those layers are peeled off and we become more able to hear the voice of the Lord. We read the part about Jesus Christ coming down and I bore my testimony to him that even though I wasn't there and didnt touch the prints in Jesus Christ's hands and feet, I know that He lives. We asked him how he thinks we could come to know that Jesus Christ lives if we cant touch Him or talk to Him directly. He said, "I actually don't know!" He was literally on the edge of his seat. He was following along intently with his finger on each verse we read. He was looking at us so sincerely, just wanting to know the answer!! I could FEEL it!! We asked him, "Do you want to know that Jesus Christ lives?" He said,"Yes," before we could even finish our sentence. We explained that by reading our scriptures, praying, and coming to church we can come to know. Tyler asked him, "So what do you need to do to come to know that Jesus Christ lives?" He said eagerly, "Well I need to read the Book of Mormon and come to church and pray each day!" We asked, "What will happen if you do those things?" He said, "I will come to know that Jesus Christ lives." I COULDNT BREATHE. The Spirit was so so so strong. We testified to him that, yes, he will come to know that Jesus Christ lives. We read the part where Jesus Christ teaches them how to baptize. I briefly explained baptism and then asked Albert, "Why do you think this was the first thing that Jesus Christ taught?" He paused and said, "He wanted to teach everyone how to have a relationship with God." I almost PUKED. I couldnt believe what I was hearing!! Albert has NO religious background!! I didnt know what to say. I just said, "YES ALBERT. That is exactly why Jesus Christ taught about baptism. Yes." I wanted to cry. We asked him how he felt about baptism and he said that it is something that he wants to do. We finished reading and we were all just soaking in the Spirit. I asked him how he liked reading from the Book of Mormon and he said that he felt peace and the questions that he had had for months were answered. I testified to him that prayer is a two way communication! We pray to God and He answers us! One way He answers us is through the scriptures. I said, "We didnt know what questions you had, but God did. He knows you and loves you and He answered your prayer today through the scriptures." He knew what I was saying was true. You should have seen his eyes. We invited him to read the Book of Mormon each day and pray to know if the Book of Mormon was true. I asked him, "Albert, do you think God will answer your prayer?" He immediately said, "Yes." I said, "How do you know that God will answer your prayer?" He said, "Because he just answered my prayer today through the scriptures!!!" NO RELIGIOUS BACKGROUND and here he is, telling me that he knows that God will answer his prayer. So sincere. So powerful. I just wanted to HUG HIM!!! Wow. The Spirit really really touched him. There is no other way he would have been giving us those answers. 
     After the lesson, we talked with Kaity. She was the one who shared the gospel with him through Facebook and brought him to church. She was amazed at the lesson and what she was hearing. I just thanked her over and over for being in tune with the Spirit to invite him and being a missionary. Tears filled her eyes as I testified to her that his life is literally changing because of her. Just that lesson alone changed his life because he felt the Spirit and is coming to know God. Imagine if she wouldn't have met with us. Imagine if she wouldn't have sent that video to Albert at the time she did. What if she would have let fear overtake her? What if she would have let doubt fill her mind? Albert's life is changing. This is the gospel. This is the joy. This is His beautiful work. It is real!!! It is taking place all around us! This is the BEAUTY of member missionary work. There is no better way to do it. PLEASE reach out to your non-member friends and neighbors! There are HUNDREDS of Alberts out there searching for the truth, but they know not where to find it!! What if you are too scared to invite someone to church, so you dont, and they never experience those blessings? What if you are too embarrassed to share your beliefs, so someone remains in darkness, when they could be experiencing the light of the gospel! Pray for your eyes to be opened as to who is prepared. But you have to pray with real intent, meaning that when you ask Heavenly Father, "Who should I share the gospel with?" you are going to act. He won't give you a name if you aren't going to do anything about it! These are precious moments. Our testimonies of and LOVE for the gospel and our relationship with God will grow as we share His gospel. 
     Mary is taking out her endowment this Saturday!! Sister Harper is flying back for it and Sister Muench and I get to go!! How SPECIAL! These are precious moments. This is the joy that the gospel brings.

I love you. I love this city.
Sister Brinton
Morning Departing Sports

Radison, James and Oscar

Bee and David

Berkeley Relief Society

Bro Aliling

His RM Classmates Avery and Raddison

Oscars Baptism

Bye Sister Wirthlin

Mission Leadership Council

Exchanges with sister Flores


Bob Ross Painting Activity

Elder Nielsen

Exchanges with sister Munoz

Elder Neves

Elder Ward

Elder Ward

Michael Angelo

Davion's Baptism

President and Sister Frandsen

Michael Brooks (a hilarious member of the Oakland 9th ward)

Zacharys Pizza

Creepy hall in the Oakland 9th apartment