Monday, July 30, 2012

Hello family and friends!

So I have some news! I received a phone call Thursday informing me that my visa has come through! So I'll be going down to the consulate tomorrow to sign it, and then I will be flying out for Mexico on August 13th. That was my original date to arrive before any of the crazy schedule changes and all of that, so I guess my Mission President down in Guadalajara decided to have me come in with the rest of my friends that are finishing up their time at the MTC. So that's great, because I have two more weeks here in Dallas to work with the wonderful people I have met.

Every 6 weeks something called "transfers" occurs. This is the time when the Mission President sits down and decides which Elders will be moved into what areas. So I will not be moved every six weeks, but every six weeks the chance to be moved will come up. Does that make sense?

So here in Dallas, tomorrow is transfer day. We got a call Saturday night letting us know what would be happening with Elder Green and I. We are both staying here in this area, but we will be receiving an additional companion, Elder Miller! That way, when I leave in two weeks, they can continue working as usual. Perfect plan. Neither of us have met Elder Miller yet, but we're excited to meet him tomorrow. He has been out on his mission a little less than a year. He reported just a transfer or two after Elder Green. (So missionaries tend to mark time in transfers, because that is when things change).

So that's super exciting. Tomorrow morning I will be catching a ride with an older couple that works in the mission to the consulate and Elder Green will go and pick up our new companion. Being in a trio definitely presents its challenges, but it will be good. We'll just have to make sure we are open and communicate well. It is easier to do with just one other person, but it's all good. Learning every day (seriously).

Last week I kind of gave an overview of what a week might look like. What did you think about that? (Not a rhetorical question). This week how about I try to zoom in on a day and give you an idea of what, specifically, a day might look like. With the activities and everything all built in. I'll give it a shot and await your critiques and suggestions on what you would like to hear.

So I'll focus on this last Saturday. Mostly because I can still remember most of what happened. The only different days of the week of Sunday, because of Church, and Monday, preparation day. So Saturday then...

I got up at 6:15 so I could pray, make my bed, and get dressed etc before we walk out the door at 6:30 to exercise. In this apartment complex we have a small gym with a treadmill, dumbells from 10-50 lbs, a bike, and a small all-in-one machine thing. Thursday or Friday I was overexcited and ran a mile a little too fast on the treadmill, so Saturday I focused on abs and forearms. I love having goals every morning and using every minute of that 30 minutes to stay fit. Awesome!

So we make it back to our room by 7. One of us hops in the shower and the other has breakfast. As I recall, I had oatmeal, and half of a grapefruit. So from 7 to 8 I eat, shower, shave, dress, and sometimes read letters I got the day before.

When 8 o'clock arrives I start my personal study with a prayer. Saturday we had several lessons with people planned, so I read the Book of Mormon for 30 minutes and then focused my studies on the what I thought the people we are meeting with will need.

Saturday is a little different than usual because we have a meeting in the morning. A few minutes before 9 another companion of Elders with a car came by and picked us up to take us to our correlation meeting. There is a man in every ward (congregation) who is called to help the missionaries work with the ward and coordinate our efforts. So we meet with him at least once a week to talk about how everything is going, report what we have done, get assignments, request help etc. Our meeting went really well. We had been super busy so we had a lot to talk about. Our meeting ended a little after 10 and we were taken back to our apartment.

We then had an hour of companionship study. During that time we talk about what we learned during personal study, I will receive some training often about the work we are doing and how we can be more effective, and then we focus on the lessons we will have that day and what we want to teach. We talk about the needs of each person and what we can do to help them. It is a good time to learn.

We then had an hour of language study. For me, I made a little plan to help me study effectively. I write for 15 minutes, usually a letter back home to my mother and family. I hope they can decipher what I am trying to say. It is really gratifying to see how it is becoming easier and easier to write and I can say things in a more natural way. I then like to read a magazine from the church that has recent talks and addresses from different church leaders. It is in Spanish, and I highlight all the words that I don't know as I go. It is my goal to learn at least 10 new words a day, and this is a great way to find very relevant and useful words that I can learn. Much better than just flipping through the dictionary anyway. I then study grammar and tenses for 15-20 minutes, and if I have any time left over I'll work on memorizing a scripture in Spanish.

After language study is lunch. No idea what I ate Saturday, but usually I'll boil some noodles, or have some sandwiches. We usually take about an hour for lunch, but since I only eat for maybe 20, I'll read some more during the rest of the time.

So Saturday we were all done with everything and ready to head out the door a little before 2. Our first appointment was at 2 o'clock, about 5 miles away. So we carried our bikes down the stairs and took off. (Fun fact: Apartment gates open because there are metal detectors in the ground in front of them. You can see the outline of the box in the cement usually, same with at stoplights. So if you want to trigger the detector on a bike, stop on top of the box and lie your bike down parallel with the ground. That will get enough metal over the box to trigger it. Cool! )

We arrived at the apartment complex right at 2. We had met this man and his daughter the day before when we had been knocking doors. He invited us to come back. We knocked and he eventually answered. He told us he had to head to the airport and would have to reschedule for another time. That is pretty typical, so we got his information and we'll find another time that works for him. We now had almost an hour before our next appointment, so we knocked a few more areas in that complex and headed over toward our next appointment. We had a few houses to stop by before to say hello and remind them about our invitation to church the next day. One of them answered and we talked to the brother of the man we had talked to before.

At 3 we went to our next lesson. This was with a family we had met the week before and who had come out to church the previous Sunday. Their daughters had to take off to work, but we were able to talk with both of the parents. We had a great discussion and they were very open with their questions. That went until a little after 4. We hopped back on our bikes and went back to the apartment complex we had been at before for another lesson. We had a member of our church meeting us there to come to the lesson with us.

Our next lesson ran from about 4:30 to about 5:40. This one was in English, so it was a little easier to say what I meant and of course I understood everything. It was a very productive discussion, and it was very nice to have a member there also to share his perspective. I know sometimes we, as missionaries in shirts and ties, can seem pretty weird or unusual. So having someone there that is just a normal person is always great.

We got out of there and hopped back on our bike and rode hard down to the other end of our area. We had an appointment at 6. We called ahead to let them know we were on our way. We got there about 6:25. This appointment was a little different than the previous. There was a young man that has been coming to church and all the activities with his friends for quite a while. When we talked to him he was very interested in learning more and wants to get baptized in the church. He is 14, almost 15, so of course we needed to talk to his parents. So this was a meeting with his mother to give her the opportunity to ask questions and find out more. It went really well.

When we first arrived she expressed that she is very Catholic and not interested herself in learning more about our faith. She said her son has been fighting a lot and she doesn't know exactly what to do, so she is happy to accept any positive role models she can get. She said if he is interested in our church and really feels good about what he is doing, she will support him. So after talking for a while we asked if it would be all right if we shared with her the basic message of our church, what it is we believe. She agreed and so we went ahead. By the end of the discussion her attitude had changed significantly. I look forward to returning and talking more with her and her family. It was funny to see. As we began, it was only her, her son, and us. The rest of the family was in the other room with the TV on real loud. By the end a few more had trickled in, the TV volume was turned off, and everyone was listening. It went really well and I know they felt the power of our message of happiness.

So that went right up until 7, but fortunately our next appointment was just down the street. We had another member coming with us to this one. We met with the Banos family, a family we have been teaching for a few months. They came to church the previous Sunday and are really starting to progress well. That night we taught the law of chastity. That is always a fun one to teach, but having the member there to bear his testimony of how it had blessed his life and his family made all the difference. We explained that marriage is essential for a family. Though this couple is wonderful, faithful, and have 5 children together, they are not married. So we explained why that was an important step and hope to help them set up their own marriage soon. So that lesson went on until after 8.

The general rule is that if you are in a lesson you can be out until 9:30, but otherwise try to get home by about 9. We hadn't had time for dinner that night because we had been running from one appointment to the next, so we figured we would just head back and get home a little early and have dinner. But as we were headed back Elder Green thought of someone we had been trying to get a hold of for a while but hadn't been successful. We were nearby, so we decided to head that way.

On the way we got stopped by a homeless man and we talked to him for a while and answered some of his questions. We stopped at a Jack in the Box to use the restroom, and as we were coming out a police car pulled over to us by our bikes and the officer started talking to us. We ended up being there until almost 9 talking to this officer. His name was Angelo and he was a great guy. Turns out he is about to propose to his girlfriend, who is Mormon. So he had some questions for us and also wanted to tell us a lot about his culture as a Serbian. I learned a whole lot about the history of Christianity in Serbia, it was fascinating! Finally it was time for us to be heading back (the area that we were in was not a good one to be in after dark) and so we got his address and number and he invited us to come by sometime. So we hope it is our area so we can.

It was cool to have that experience that would not have happened if we had just called it quits for the day and headed back early. So when we finally did make it back a little after 9 we sat down and planned for 30 minutes. We always take this time to pass over what happened that day, decide where to focus our efforts the following day, confirm appointments, and just get things straight.

I then ate dinner (cereal, sandwich, maybe some leftover macaroni), wrote in my journal for a minute, and got ready for bed. By 10:30 I was in bed. No doubt by 10:31 I was out.

Saturday was a great day! Occasionally we will spend more time knocking doors, but ideally, we have appointments like that.

So that's that. All is well with me. I got some great letters this week and look forward to some more this week. Here as we enter August I guess people are starting to think about school again. Let me know how you are doing!

Much love,
Elder Brighton

Monday, July 23, 2012

Hello all,

Another great week out here in the mission field. Been working hard and sweating a ton. Let's see what I can remember from the past week. So much happens in just one day that it is crazy to try and think back that far.
(Don't know if I'll keep up with the following format, but I'll try it once and see if I like it.)
Highlights from the week.

Early that morning we were able to help one of our neighbors, an older man, load up his truck. He is moving at the end of the month.

During study time we got a phone call from a member to let us know that one of her friends from work had been in a car accident and was at the hospital. She wanted to see if we could go over, visit him, and give him a blessing. The hospital is in our area, so we were happy to oblige. So we did. We went over, had to come back because he wasn't available, and then later that afternoon got to get in to see him. When we arrived he was in a lot of pain and had difficulty talking. His wife and daughter were there with them. We shared a brief message about faith and were able to offer him a blessing of healing and comfort. By the time he left he had relaxed a bit. It was great to be able to offer them that simple service.

Later that afternoon we were knocking a new street and met a bunch of very nice people. One older lady was out taking care of her yard. We asked her if there was anything we could help with. She replied, "not without getting your hands dirty". I told her we would love to do just that and after talking for a few more minutes she told us how her front gate wouldn't open because this metal trellis thing had been installed too closely. So we got a shovel, dug it up (it ended up being a little more work than I initially estimated) and got it moved so the gate would open. It was awesome. Honestly, working/serving is my favorite thing. I love to talk to people and tell them about Christ, but I would much rather show them through service if I can. So we were able to do that for her and then we had to take off to make our dinner appointment. Her name was Lydia.

We had two more great lessons that evening.

That morning while Elder Green and I were studying and planning for the day we got a phone call from the mission office. The car that we had been driving had been hit a couple months earlier and the parts to fix it had come in. The area were are in right now is usually a bike area, but since the Elder that was here before me was injured, they had had a car for the past while. So that morning we got to drive across town and drop it off at the mechanic. So now we are back on the bikes. When the car is fixed there is probably a 85% chance that it goes elsewhere and we remain on bikes. So that was a big game-changer.

But honestly, I almost prefer bikes. It doesn't hurt that I love the exercise, but it also means we are much more visible and can stop and talk to people easily on the street. Also, when we come up to someone's door and they see that we are willing to ride our bike 4 or 5 miles in the middle of the day just to bring them this message about how they can be happier and how their family can be strengthened, they begin to see how important we really know this message is. So really, I like the bikes. One of these days I'll take a picture of myself right after I get home. I'm am almost always soaked through. Last night as I wrote in my journal, I kneeled on the ground so that I didn't ruin my chair with the sweat. Yep, it's awesome.

We spent rest of that day visiting members of the church that haven't been able to make it out in a while. We visited one lady who has had health problems and is just getting better and looking for work again. We found out how she is doing and shared an uplifting message. We made an appointment to return Friday to cut her yard, it was getting pretty long.

We then visited an 82 year old widow who also hasn't been able to come for a while. She can no longer drive, although she is very sharp and pretty active. She had been raising her great-granddaughter for the past 6 years. And then just a couple weeks ago her mother was able to put her life back together enough to get her child back. So it has been really hard on this good sister (note: in the church, we refer to each other all as brother and sister, so that's usually what it means when you read it here. Don't want there to be any confusion!). So we stop by a couple times a week to talk to her and make sure she is doing all right. She is a great lady and has done amazing things in her life.

Then finally we stopped by a brother who has been having to work on the weekends to support his family. His sons come out each week, so were just wanted to see if there was anything we could do for them. He just asked us to pray that he could find work, so we have been doing that. It was a good visit and we taught the boys how to tie a tie. So that was fun. We got a call from the father the next day saying he had a job interview lined up, and then we learned yesterday that he got the job. So we are stopping by tonight to learn more about it. Hopefully it all works out nicely and he can come to church again. He has been out of work for several years, so that would be awesome.


Thursday we had interviews with the mission president. They happen once every 3 months, but the way I have been moved around it has just so happened that I have had one both weeks I've been here. We also received some good training that day. It was very inspiring and just reminded us to be sure we are doing our best. The tempo has definitely increased since that meeting. That consumed most of the day. We had to travel to the meeting by the city train and buses, so I really enjoyed that and we were able to meet and talk to a ton of people on the way there and back.

That evening we had a lesson with a lady that has been meeting with the missionaries for a while. She is a wonderful lady and is planning on getting married the 25th of August and baptized the 1st of September. Her finance met with us for the first time and it was a great lesson. We talked about families and the role of mothers and fathers. She is close to 50 and he is 30, so a little different, but they have a great relationship and are looking forward to their marriage at the end of the month of August. He committed to meeting with us so that they can work to be baptized and begin this new life together.


We went over and mowed Juanita's lawn after finishing our morning preparations. It was good work and I enjoyed it. We then joined her and her neighbor for lunch. Later that day we went back and met with Lydia, whose gate we had fixed earlier in the week. We had a nice lesson and we began to develop a good relationship. It was a long day with several other appointments and work. Enjoyed every minute. (At least looking back. That's the way it goes. I don't remember all the hard times, just the good ones.)


Whew. Long, productive day. In my journal I wrote at the end of the day that I was, "very full, very tired, a little burned, and extremely satisfied".

We had been fed a couple of times that evening (I didn't mind of course!), been riding around all day (got up to 106 that day), and had met and talked to some great people. As a side note, I am definitely getting back to my usual dark skinned self. After a year down at Rice with most of my time spent inside working or studying I had gotten pretty white. But I'm closer to those summers as a lifeguard again (as miserable as they were). Anyways, satisfied because we met a new family, and had a great, albeit short, lesson with them. We invited them to church the next day and they seemed interested in coming. We also returned to the apartment of a man we had met on my first day in the area. We had been knocking when we saw him carrying groceries up the 3rd floor. He is an older man, so we quickly ran over and carried the cases of water and other things up the stairs. He was grateful and we left him with our number. We decided to stop by that night to see how he was doing. We had a great lesson and he was very engaged. He wants to learn more, and we are going to begin teaching him.


One thing I learned pretty quickly is that although people say they are going to come to church, or they are going to read, or going to do something with or for us, they usually don't, or can't or something comes up. So when I tell you that yesterday we had 11 people visit the church that we talked to, let me tell you that was incredible. Lydia came, the Banos family came, Lilly came, and the new family we had met and talked to for just a few minutes came. It was great.

Yesterday in church I got the chance to talk (it was very short, so I may type it up and have my mother post it as a separate blog post). It went well and I know it was well received. Then when I sat down, the lady that does the Spanish translation (the members that speak Spanish have headphones they can wear in this ward. A little different than most areas, but actually really cool) got up to speak. She spoke with the bishop for a minute, then he looked over at me and nodded toward the translation equipment. I signaled back okay and went up. So yep, less than three weeks out and I was translating during Sacrament meeting, the main one. It was hard of course, but I was so surprised. As I opened my mouth, it was filled with the words. It wasn't perfect by any means, and there were certainly some words I didn't know. But I was very surprised with how I was able to do it. I know I was getting a lot of help with that one. I went up to some of the Spanish members after to apologize and and ask how it went. They said it went well and that they could understand just fine. What a blessing!

The rest of church went well. I translated again for the last hour for the men. By the end of the day my mind was pretty beaten up from trying to process so fast. Listening and talking at the same time is difficult. Throw in a language and limited experience and you have found yourself a mighty opportunity to stretch yourself. I'm so glad for those opportunities to put myself out there. I'm learning faster than I would have thought possible. And still, sometimes I get frustrated that I can't understand or can't say everything I want. Surely after almost 3 weeks I should be perfectly fluent right!?! (These sorts of statements help me to remember that I am doing well and that it will come with time). But it takes work, and I can do that.

So that pretty much brings us to today.
Last night as we were calling to report how our week had gone we got a suggestion from our Zone Leaders. Because this has been a week of miracles, finding wonderful families to teach, the real miracle that we need now is that they will be able to learn for themselves that what we are teaching is true. So we started a fast last night as a companionship that theses families can learn and progress together. That is our biggest goal as missionaries. To teach families together and see them as they grow closer and increase in love for each other. So we are fasting today that they will be able to progress together. A fast typically means going without food and water for a period of 24 hours or two meals. So we started it last night and will break it this evening with dinner. Today is the best day because we are not out riding around as much. We will probably only travel 10 or 15 miles on our bike today as opposed to 30 or 40. So that makes it much better. Fasting is pretty meaningless without a purpose and without prayer. So we've been praying a lot to know what it is we can do to help these families with their specific needs. I know it will all work out in the best way, and we will certainly do our part.

We'll I've certainly given you a lot to read. Hope it is interesting and uplifting. Hope to hear from you all soon. No word yet on Mexico, so just focusing on the work here. Also, pictures were a no-go last week, sorry. Couldn't get them working on this computer.

Well my time is running short, so I'll leave it at that and hope to receive your letters soon. My promise remains. All letters will receive a response. If you haven't received one and you mailed me, I'm very sorry. I believe that any mail that went to the MTC after I left was forwarded to Mexico, so I'll get it eventually. At this point, (or by the end of today) I will have answered all letters that I have received. So that's where that is.

Well, I love you all a bunch and (yes, once again) look forward to hearing from you.

Elder Brighton

Monday, July 16, 2012

Hello Family and Friends,

Well it wouldn't be another week in the mission without more craziness. I'll backtrack in a minute, but first, Thursday morning I got a phone call. They told me a missionary was having to go home for surgery and that I would be moving to take his spot. So a few hours later, after gathering my things together, I was in the van again, this time headed for (almost) Downtown Dallas. So yeah, I am once again in a new area. My new address is

Elder Eric Brighton
3443 Mahanna St. #1311
Dallas, TX 75209

So as far as mail goes, anything sent to the MTC address, Mission office address, or the Irving address has not made it to me yet. I do anticipate getting it this Thursday though when we have a meeting. It should be delivered to me at that time. So if I've been slow to respond, I am sorry and you can expect an answer next week sometime. Thanks a bunch.

So last week was great. While I was still in Irving we got to work hard finding people, teaching, and serving. Things were really looking good there. The Elders there work hard and talk to lots of people.

By Thursday afternoon I was moved into the new place near downtown Dallas. I am now serving in a Bilingual ward (congregation). Our main priority here is to find those members who are struggling and help them to make it back out to church. This ward is very diverse. Our ward covers University Park and Highland Park which I was told are among the richest zipcodes in the US, along with areas where the members work hard to put food on the table. 

It really is an inspiring thing to see everyone come on Sunday and sit and talk with each other. No divisions, even with the language barrier. CEO's of companies bring their children and they all go to the same classes and share this experience of worshiping God together. Last night a family from the ward invited us over to dinner (we eat with people in their homes most nights of the week). The father of the family, it turns out, is the CEO of Chuckie Cheese, and the family is quite wealthy. Their house was huge and well furnished. As we sit and eat with the family though, they are super down to earth and friendly. No "gap" or sense of difference, even as we sit in a home worth millions of dollars. It was a good experience to see how it is possible to stay connected with reality no matter where life takes you. Either end of the spectrum. 

Another fun fact. The area I am in now has a car. For a few more days at least. The last Elder that was here could not ride a bicycle, so for now we still have the vehicle. It is very nice to be able to zip across to our next appointment, and I sweat a lot less. But all is well. Soon enough we will be back on the bicycle. 

On Sunday I got the chance to translate one of the meetings. The last hour of church is when the men, women, youth, and children each meet separately to focus on their specific needs. So I got to take turns translating all the talking into Spanish for one of the men that attended. It was definitely challenging to keep up, and I was not able to get every word by any means, but it was a lot of fun to just put yourself out there and do your best. No time to think and correct and conjugate, so I just did it on the fly. I felt a real sense of accomplishment and got a little boost of confidence to know that I could do it well enough that he understood what was going on. I won't get opportunities exactly like that down in Mexico probably, so it is cool to do it now. 

Hopefully I can take a few minutes here and send some pictures home. I'll leave it to my family to figure out how to get them on the blog. Hopefully a few of them will make it up. If not, I probably couldn't figure out how to get them home. 

Can't wait to hear from all of you. I must say, there is nothing like coming home from a long, difficult, day of talking, teaching, and pushing myself to my capacities and finding a letter in the mailbox. Such a great way to end the day. So any quick note you want to send is very well received. I look forward to hear about the adventures you are also having this summer and welcome your support and advice.

Best wishes,
Elder Brighton

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Elder Brighton has been moved to a new area in the Dallas mission. Check the address tab for his current address.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Week One in the Field

***NOTE THE ADDRESS, looks like we had the wrong one before***

Hello all!!
So as you may have heard, I think my mother said she posted a blog post mentioning it, I'm now out of the Training Center. I arrived in the Texas Dallas Mission on Wednesday, July 4th. It should always be easy to remember what day I entered the field. I hope everyone had a great 4th of July and had some time to think about the incredible blessings we have to live in the country. Having had the chance to talk to many people here in Dallas now who have lived in many other countries and have worked and sacrificed much themselves to be here, I am beginning to understand better why it is people will risk their lives to come to a land such as this. We are not perfect, but it is a blessed land. So much freedom, I hope we never take it for granted.
So Dallas indeed. It was a bit of a surprise to find out I would be back in Texas for a time. It is great to be here, even in the heat, and be working among the people here. To explain, because I was moved into the advanced district, my stay in the MTC was shortened, but my VISA has not come yet. And so I was given the opportunity to get out and start learning and working in the "real world" while I wait for it to work out. There is a consulate here in Dallas I am told, and so it is here that I was assigned. The rest of the Elders from my district in the MTC are waiting in Las Vegas.
Let me briefly explain the mail situation. So now that I am here, I have a new mailing address. Before I give it, let me say a few things. My companions have suggested that anything super important be sent to the main office. Anything sent there I will be able to receive probably twice a month at training meetings. That address is
Elder Eric Brighton
Texas Dallas Mission Office

13747 Montfort Dr. #110
Dallas, TX 75240

I also have an address at my apartment where I can receive mail. I was told it is occasionally "sketchy", but I will leave that judgement call to you. I would get it much faster that way. My address there is:
Elder Eric Brighton

804 North Nursery #126
Irving, TX 75061

The mail procedure works the same out here in the field. I will be able to write and respond once a week on Mondays. That is what I am doing right now. Okay, I hope that makes sense, pretty straight forward.
So, moving past those detaily kinds of things.
What is it I am really doing out here anyways?
I have been called to serve as a missionary. What that means is that my primary responsibility is to find and teach people who are interested in learning about Jesus Christ and about how they can make changes in their life. My official purpose (I have it memorized in Spanish, but this is pretty close in English), "Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end". So that is my purpose and my goal.
What does that translate to day to day?
Each day we get up at 6:15 and run to a park and exercise for 30 minutes.
We get back shower, eat, and prepare for the day until 8. 
At 8 we have an hour of personal study. During that time I'll read the scriptures and study things that I think will help the people that we have met and are visiting with.
We then have 2 hours of companionship study. Usually it would just be one, but both me and one of my companions, Elder Jones, are new to the field, so we have an extra for training and to learn more. During that time we will discuss the people we are teaching and try to know how we can meet their needs.
We then study the language for an hour, eat lunch, and get out the door. 
Once we have left the apartment we head to any appointments we have. The rest of the day is spent meeting with investigators, those interested in learning more, helping any less active members of the ward, and looking for more people to teach. 
We usually have dinner at some one's home around 5 and then head back out to work until 9:30. At 9:30 we get back to the apartment, plan for the next day, and get to bed by 10:30. They are long days for sure. I often can't remember what we did in the morning by the time I'm going to sleep. But it is satisfying to put 100% of my effort into something that means so much to me and into something I know is helping others. It isn't easy, but it is worth it. I will definitely be talking more about this later I'm sure.
So how's the language coming?
Well I'm doing alright. It is a big adjustment, but it is going well. I am able to talk to people when the answer their door and they can understand me as well. I don't know all the words I would like to yet, but it is coming along and I am definitely contributing. So I am with two other companions right now, which is a little unusual. Usually you live and work with one other Elder, but since I came in last minute and am in a little different situation, I am with two others. Elder Walker is our trainer, and Elder Jones has been here for almost 4 weeks. Both are also American, so it makes it a little harder to learn the language. We do our best to always speak Spanish, but it can be difficult. Elder Walker can understand better than I can and Elder Jones is working hard to learn. Everyday I do my best to make notable progress. Yesterday at church was great when I felt like I could follow just about everything that was going on. As much of a language adjustment it is, the culture is very different too. I'm beginning to learn better how to speak and understand what people mean, not just with words, but with other indicators. No one will tell you no, so if we can't figure out when they mean no, we end up wasting a lot of time going to return appointments that they set that they had no intention of keeping. It has been good and is preparing me well for my experiences to come.
How are the companions?
I mentioned a bit, but here's some more. Both these Elders are great. They are here to work, and we certainly get a lot done. It is nice to have two other people dedicated to the work and willing to do hard things without complaining. I couldn't ask for better first companions. They are showing me the example of doing things right and not looking back. I'm still getting to know them, but I feel comfortable with them already. Elder Walker played basketball for a smaller college before he came out. He is about 6'5 and 230 or so. Great guy, hard worker. He has only been out for about 9 months, so to be trusted as a trainer to two Elders already shows a lot about his character. Very trustworthy. Elder Jones joined the church less than 2 years ago and put things in order so that he could come out and serve. Great example. Really enjoying being with them.  
So some experiences now. I've only been here a couple of days. We got to work as soon as I arrived Wednesday, before I had a chance to unpack or anything. I knew it was going to be good when that happened. So in this area we have bikes, so everywhere we go, we bike. I must have brought a bad streak of luck with me, but since I have been here we have had 4 popped tires! We'll park them somewhere and just start walking. Then every night we'll get them all fixed back up again. Then Saturday night Elder Walker was riding and his pedal just flew off. We pulled over and found that the bolt holding it on had snapped in half. Too bad. So we found a ride back to our apartment later and now we are on foot until we can get something figured out. There is a member in the ward that I think is lending us a bike. So that has been interesting, but nothing can hold us back!
One last experience before I go. Yesterday after church we were looking for people to teach in an apartment complex. In the first block of apartments we knocked and did not find one interested person. It was a very poor area and it sometimes felt like they weren't even able to understand what we were saying, not because we weren't speaking their language, but just because they weren't able to. So as I'm thinking these things we head to the next block. I'm wondering if we are just wasting our time as we walk up the first door. There we meet a woman and her daughter who want to hear the message we have to share. We share it with them and she asks a lot of questions and expresses interest. We will go by and visit again soon. We then go next door and find a man who is sitting there reading the Book of Mormon. He had been given it two months ago and was just finishing it when we walked up. He said he loved everything it said and wants to hear more about it. He was leaving the next day to drive to Mexico with a load of supplies for the poor people there, but said when he returns in a month we can stop by. As we continued knocking, we had two more great lessons. It taught me a great lesson. I need to humble myself and recognize that this work is not about me and what I think. All we can do is offer. People will accept or reject, and that is their decision, but we, as missionaries, must offer.
Anyways, my time is coming to a close, but thanks so much for your friendship and support. All is well with me. It is great to be a part of something so important. If it takes me longer to respond than usual, I'm sorry. Anything sent to the MTC may take a while to get forwarded. And I do not know when I will be leaving for Mexico. Could be in a week, could be in 3 months. No idea. Thanks a bunch. Be sure to let me know how you are doing. It is so encouraging to receive letters after a long day and remember the good friends I have back home.
I love you all and pray and wish the very best for you.
Elder Eric Brighton

Friday, July 6, 2012



Elder Eric Brighton
804 North Nursery #126
Irving, TX 75061

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Elder Brighton will be serving in Dallas,TX until his VISA arrives. He believes he will go to Mexico on or about Aug. 13. He will be leaving the MTC July 4th at 5am. He asked that everyone hold off on letters until he knows the address in Dallas.