Monday, March 20, 2017

18 Months

Hi :) 
     The weather here this week was to DIE for. AH! I love walking outside on temple grounds, feeling the breeze, soaking in the sunshine, smelling the tulips, and admiring the beautiful temple.
     Progress with our investigators has been slow. But Albert is down to 1/2 cup coffee every other day! As we were weekly planning and discussing our investigators, we felt strongly that we need to find out who is really sincere about meeting with us. We don't want to spend time teaching people who aren't keeping commitments when there are people out there who are PREPARED to hear the gospel!
     Daniel took us out to lunch and we got ETHIOPIAN food! Only in Oakland haha. It tasted weird. Quite the experience. He invited his friend named Teddy, a Buddhist classmate from Thailand. He was so nice! He has a Book of Mormon and wants to meet with us! After lunch, Daniel told us that THAT morning, Teddy had texted him saying we should grab lunch. They hadn't spoken in 6 months. Then Daniel told us after we left, the guy sitting next to our table came over and asked about the church so Daniel got his info. AAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!!!! When your recent convert brings NON members to lunch and talks to strangers about the church. He texted us and said, "I love experiences like this! I am seeing more and more of them!" He is SO great.
     M i r a c l e s every day. We called a former investigator about 2 months ago and found out that she had moved to Hayward, so we passed her off. Then she randomly called us last week and said that she moved to Emeryville (which is in our area) and that she wanted to meet with us!! THIS NEVER HAPPENS!! So we set a return appointment for Saturday. We also met a GOLDEN investigator, a Chinese male, who just walked in the Visitors Center. He said, "Are you mormons?" We taught him the Restoration and he wants to meet with the missionaries. He isnt YSA so we had to pass him off but the Lord compensated by giving us an investigator named Harry, may I mention that he is also a Chinese male.
     We had FOUR different people confront us about our stance on polygamy, race, and homosexuality, due to some online research they had been doing. Satan is trying to get into these peoples minds and twist beautiful truths and make things confusing. We had a lady come in the Visitors' Center and practically YELL at us about baptisms for the dead. She said we had NO right to do that and it was completely disrespectful. She was mocking, laughing, and pointing her finger when I bore my testimony that we have prophets who speak to God and receive revelation.

     "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake." Matthew 5:11

     We got to do some service FINALLY. I haven't done service since like August! We went to a tiny local organic farm and helped plant carrots and lettuce and other vegetables. It was so fun to be outside and in the soil. I learned so much about growing vegetables organically and the different techniques they use! I love Berkeley. They told us about how horrible the meat industry is for the environment... I am thinking about going vegetarian now. HA! Yeah right - have you ever HAD Chickfila????? But honestly I learned a lot! They really love the earth and want to protect it. 
     Something funny: We were talking to someone at Laney College and he was kind of crazy. He was going on and on. Somewhere within his rant he said, "Jesus Chris is the only one who can save us. I cant save anyone! I cant even save five dolla!"
     I will be honest. It hasn't really hit me yet. They asked me to bear my departing testimony in my last district meeting. It didn't FEEL like my last one. They were expecting all this wisdom and counsel, but I just felt like it was another day, so I bore my testimony. I bore it of the Savior. I bore it of His work that we are a tiny part of. I bore it of the change of heart that I have experienced. Then they asked me to bear my departing testimony in my last Visitors' Center training meeting. It didn't FEEL like my last one. I stood up there weeping. I could hardly speak. There were pictures of the Savior all around me and I bore my testimony of Him. I shared my experience of becoming CONVERTED to Him and his gospel, which came line upon line. I shared my love for the sisters and for my mission.
     In the summer of 2015, when I was preparing to serve a mission, I chose this for my mission scripture:

     "I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance and this is my joy." Alma 29:9

     I chose it because I really felt that God had commanded me to serve a mission. I chose it because I wanted to be that tool in Heavenly Father's hands. I wanted to be humble. I wanted to experience that joy. I have reflected on it again and again throughout my mission. I turned to it when I wanted to quit. I turned to it when I felt alone. I turned to it when I was tired.
     But it has brought a different meaning to me as I have approached the end of my mission. I know that the Lord Jesus Christ commanded me to come to Oakland, California to be an instrument in His hands to invite & help these people to repent and come closer to Him. This has been my absolute joy. It is a beautiful thing to get lost in the service of others. My mission provided that opportunity for me. I realized that as I was helping others, I myself was coming closer to my Father in Heaven. It is impossible to put your whole heart and soul into this work and not change yourself. He molds us and shapes us as we willingly put ourselves in His loving hands.
     The past 18 months have changed me. I am not sure I can put it into words. How am I supposed to explain everything that I have learned and felt and become? How would I be able to count the miracles I have seen? The prayers I have prayed? The tears I have shed? The lessons I have taught? The sweet Spirit I have felt? How am I supposed to explain how much I love the diverse people of the Bay Area? How could I EVER adequately express the overwhelming gratitude I feel for the opportunity I had to serve a mission. 
     I will miss these people. I will miss my sisters. I will miss the beautiful temple grounds and the breathtaking view of the Bay. I will miss the Spirit and peace of the Visitors' Center. I will miss testifying of the Savior as His set apart representative. I will miss talking to strangers on the street with a Book of Mormon in my hand. I will miss being on a mission in California. The list goes on and on.
     But the good news is that my mission is not overThis is just the beginning! Luckily, I love change. I am excited for this new phase of life! I can make "life after the mission" happy and wonderful. Just because the name tag comes off, doesn't mean I don't have His name on my heart anymore. I have covenanted to take His name upon me my whole life!! My mission was preparing me to face real life challenges!! It was deepening my testimony so when the winds of the world blow fiercely, the roots I have grown in the gospel of Jesus Christ will keep me steadfast and immovable. It was preparing me to be a member missionary and a mother and a teacher. It was helping me see the eternal perspective so when trials come, I will remember that I have a Heavenly Father who loves me and that all things will turn out for my good if I am obedient. It was setting the habits of personal prayer and scripture study that will keep me close to the Lord. It was establishing a pattern of daily repentance that will keep the Holy Spirit with me. The list goes on and on.
Oh sweet the joy the gospel brings.
     I know Jesus Christ lives. He is our Savior. I know He restored His church through the Prophet Joseph Smith. Whenever I recited Joseph's experience of seeing our Father and His Son, I felt the Spirit testify to me that it was true. This is the most beautiful message in the world. How blessed I was to share it with the people here. The Book of Mormon is true. We can repent and feel peace again. Heavenly Father loves us. He hears and answers our prayers. We will see our loved ones again.
My purpose as a missionary was to invite others to come unto Christ.
My purpose for the rest of my life is the same.
My heart is full. 
All my love and more,
Sister Emma Brinton

Ethiopian Food

Ethiopian food with Daniel and his friend Teddy

Cinnamon rolls with Ayla


I love these two (Emily and Sis Muench)


Our ward mission leader, Ricky

PF Changs

Service with Brenly at the organic farm!!!

Departing missionaries

The Neves

I love them!

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