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

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