Monday, August 27, 2012

Dearest family and friends,

As always, time is short. With today being the first day of school for my siblings, I spent most of my time writing to them and don´t regret it in the least. 

Today I would like to tell you about where I am presently. I am in the Zapopan area, just outside of the city limits of Guadalajara... I think. I live by the Highway Saltillo.

I am doing great and beginning to adjust well. I was pretty sick this week as my body adjusted, but am doing great now. Here is a quick description of the highway, a short description that I hope will illustrate better this area. 

On this highway it is most common to see cars. Mostly old, beaten up trucks or small cars carrying people, supplies, and all kinds of things. It is not uncommon to see a nicer car occasionally, a BMW or otherwise. But also, many bicycles ride up and down the highway. People are constantly waiting along the edges, darting to the center, hopping the barricade and then darting once more. We also see people on  horseback pretty frequently. 

This is kind of the way things seem to be here. I really love it. A mix of the old and new. Just making things work. There are people here with houses and jobs. Doing well and living life. There are others that struggle to make their way along, and others still that just aren´t making it at all. Some own BMW´s and others have never ridden in a car in their life. 

My calling as a missionary is to bring the message of Jesus Christ and his teachings of faith, repentence, baptism, the Holy Ghost, and the importance of keeping to commandments of God to all people. And so we go out and work and talk with everyone. I am learning so much about myself along the way. What is a person and what gives him or her value? Knowing that each person is a child of God, valued because they are, not because they have, or they have done, or they can. 

I guess it really is all about love. I am learning so much. Let me know how I can help you.

I think the best way to write me is going to be through dearelder.com It will for sure get to me, is free, fast, and secure. Maybe someone that has used it can comment and explain more about how it works, I honestly don´t know. 

I love you all and hope you know of the love of your God.

Love,
Elder Brighton

dearelder.com is easy. Just go to the site, set up an account, be sure to select Mexico Guadalajara from the mission list. Once your account is set up, you just write your letter and submit it. It will be printed and delivered to the pouch mail. It appears that the letters are printed Sunday at midnight and I believe the pouch mail goes out on Mon or Tues but I don't know.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

First Letter from Mexico

Dear family and friends,
I must first apologize. following this there will be no more capital letters. the keyboards here are different and it takes me too long to reach over and find the shift key, so i´m not going to. please forgive me.

with time being so very short today, i am going to leave out a lot of things that don´t matter and include things that do.

first: i am doing great. it certainly is not easy by any means. there have been some moments that have been very difficult, but in the final accounting i am quite well, happy, and working hard. in our first full day here we had some training regarding health, eating, foods, etc. the wife of our mission president told us new missionaries that we would for sure get sick within the first few days or week. so far i have been incredibly blessed. i have had no problems and have not had to stop or slow down for anything. so that has been a huge blessing.

my first companion here, also called my trainer, is elder sosa. he is from uruguay and is a great missionary. he has a strong accent, so at times it has been difficult to understand. natives here often have to ask him to repeat things. but i trust that having to pay careful attention to everything he says is helping my lanugage skills a lot. we get along well and are learning more about each other. 

because time is so short, i just want to share one experience i have had here. there will surely be more to follow.

on my second day here, we began the morning by walking to where the garcia family lives. it was a pretty good distance and i noticed as we walked that elder sosa had brought a bag of plastic bottles and collected more that we found along the way. to get to the house we had first to hike along a pretty beat up road and then cross a bridge and leave the road, we scrambled down the hill side, at times using all fours to make our way down. their small home has sits on a flat spot that they have dug out of the hillside. this family, consisting of a mother, father, a daughter of about 11 years and a son of 12, has taught me so much already. to begin when i say they are a humble family i would not have you confuse that with an ignorant or unlearned. while their opportunity for education has surely been little, they are bright and capable. i learned that he makes his way by collecting plastics and other recycleable materials each morning from the homes that he has established this relationship with. they live primarily outside, but they have a small home with a bed inside. they are kind to us and always offer us what they have. brother garcia is a fun and joking guy. that first morning that we stopped by, after talking and sharing a scripture with them we were able to help him with his ongoing project. he is digging and leveling out a large spot on the hillside to build a house. he anticipates it will take him 2 years. 

when we came by later to talk with his neighbor he sat in with us and shared with this woman and us his testimony of the goodness of God. he told of times when he and his family had nothing to eat, and so they would start a fast that the lord would provide. each time, he said, a way was found that they could eat and get along once more. he and his family have truly found out the things in life that do matter, and the things that don't. he works hard each day, we have had the chance to return and help him more a time or two, and he puts his faith in God. they walk each sunday to church and sit happily and content with all the others. a pure example of a humble follower of Christ.

There is so much more to share, but time does not allow. It appears that I will get mail every month to 6 weeks here. The place to send it would be the mission office, which i believe i put in my very first post, but if not i trust my family will repost the address.

much love from mexico. hope all is well

Love,
Elder Brighton

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

No letter this week, but I did get him to send his SD card from his camera. This is Elder Brighton in Dallas with his companions. He left for Mexico on August 13th.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Hello all!

Another week of hard work and happiness. It sure has been hot though. We break 100 degrees easy every day. One night this week, as we were riding back to our apartment, we passed a sign with the temperature on it. It was 9:00 at night and 101 degrees. Pretty crazy. I'm certainly getting darker!

This week has been great, with a few "classic missionary moments" mixed in.

There has been a couple we have been meeting with and teaching for quite a while now. It has been great to see them grow closer as they learn more about the gospel of Jesus Christ and prepare themselves to be baptized. They are getting married at the end of this month, which is wonderful. Each lesson with them has been strong as they have opened up and shared with us their thoughts and concerns. We are really able to share with them the blessings that come of following the example of Christ. So that has been very rewarding this week.

We are now in a trio, Elder Green, Elder Miller, and I. Being with two other Elders presents unique challenges and opportunities. It is hard to be as open and communicate well with two other people, but we are doing well. Elder Miller and I get along especially well. He played lacrosse in high school and was also in the band. So we have a lot in common. It is also interesting to know that I will be leaving so soon. Knowing that I will have to leave and the work will have to go on with Elder Green and Elder Miller. So I am doing my best to make sure it will be a smooth transition when I have to go off for Mexico.

So as far as a classic moment goes, Saturday morning we rode our bikes to a train station and took the train down to a baptismal service that was taking place. It was great to see someone take that step in their life and very encouraging. We were able to find a ride back and had them drop us off at the DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit) station to get our bikes. As we walked up to where we had left our bikes locked up, we realized something was wrong... they were gone. So sure enough, our bikes had been stolen. The stations are always pretty deserted on weekends, so someone must have just come by, snipped the lock and made off with three bikes. Elder Miller and I had both been borrowing ours from other missionaries or missionaries that had already gone home, but Elder Green had his own bike. It was a pretty nice one too. So he was pretty upset. We stayed and filed a report with the police, but chances of getting them back are pretty slim. Hopefully they caught something on camera, but we're not holding our breath.

So that made the past couple days interesting. The police officer was nice enough to give us a ride back to our apartment. We made some adjustments to our schedule, and then headed out the door. Walking does take quite a bit longer, but I guess I may as well get used to it now for Mexico. We walked down to our appointments for the evening and did our best.

Then yesterday after church (we found a ride from a member like usual) we were off again. One appointment, pretty far south, went well. Partly because we had walked there. When the family saw how important it was to us to meet with them, that we were willing to walk down there in the heat I think they recognized how important we think this work is. They were talking to one of their friends that was there with them and said something like, "see, these young men are serious about what they do. Their bikes were stolen and what did they do. They began on foot." Their friend had been joking and wondering how it was that three very young men like us could have anything worthwhile to teach about God. The family really stuck up for us. It was inspiring to see.

And in regards to that point. The friend is very right. We are in fact very young and inexperienced. It is in our weakness that we are sent out to spread this message of Christ. And so as people are able to learn, progress, and change, it truly manifests the power of God. Of ourselves, three fresh gringos, there is no hope that we could ever convince anyone that what we are saying is true. At times we can't even express our thoughts and feelings through this new language. And yet, our work is not in vain. People change. They feel peace and joy when we visit. I know this because this is what they tell us. After a long day of walking in the heat, recognizing our weakness and inadequacy, to hear someone tell you that really puts things in perspective. And so, I know the work I am a part of is true and that it is blessing the lives of all who will humble themselves and listen with real intent.


So the problem is not resolved yet. Still no bikes or means of transport. But that's all right. We were able to get a ride to email today from some missionaries nearby who have been given a car. The area they cover is larger, and so they need one to get around. We'll see what happens.

I probably should put this note at the top, but just as a heads up. I wouldn't send any mail towards Dallas after Wednesday. That might even be pushing it. So if you were planning on it, take a few minutes today (Monday) or tomorrow. I sure would love to hear from you. The letters I have received so far have been awesome and really put some wind in my sails.

I love you all and hope that you are able to find the happiness that is always available. I'm praying for you, and I know you are praying for me. I'll be needing it surely as I walk off an airplane Monday and enter an airport where the announcements are made in Spanish. I can't wait!!! Can't wait to immerse myself in the language. Won't it be fun for all of you to watch as my English begins to worsen gradually. Be looking out for phrases that don't make sense. I love it when my companions that have been out longer say something that makes no sense in English but works perfectly in Spanish. It happens all the time, but one example is when Elder Green and I were talking about how to help our families make it out to church on Sundays and help them understand the importance of attending. He kept saying, "we've got to get them to assist church". Finally I told him that doesn't make any sense. The verb in Spanish is of course asistir which means to attend. It took him a good 90 seconds to believe me that in English we don't assist church. Once he remember attend, he just started laughing. Classic moment.

Well I can't wait to hear from you.

Lots of Love (the true meaning of lol),

Elder Brighton


P.S.
If you have been keeping up with this, this week find another one of my friends who you think might not be and let them know about it. Sound good? You're the best!