Monday, December 31, 2012

Last week Elder Brighton requested that I post a song that he and his companion sang and recorded, "What Child is This?". After attempting to figure out how, I couldn't get it posted. He asked that I put with it a Christmas scripture.Here is my choice:
 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Anyone interested in the song, please email me and I will be happy to forward it to you.

Dearest Family and Friends,

At this special time of the year I want to take a few minutes to share some thoughts and experiences. The first one is the power of love. And in this case we are going to talk about charity, the pure love of Christ. The kind of love that makes a difference in this world.

This is a brief story of the power of love and patience. We have been blessed to work with a young man named Samuel. In our time with him his mother made it clear from the beginning that she was not interested in listening to anything we had to say. To make a long story short, she often looked for the occasion to critique us or the message we had to bring. Over time we witnessed something amazing. We never engaged in arguments, always expressing our love and respect towards her, her son, and her other children. We have offered to help around the house, listen to what she had to say, and calmly explain why it is we are here. One day in particular she got particularly wound up and really ¨let us have it¨. We shared our testimonies and departed.
When we came back the next day, Christmas Eve, we were very unsure of how everything would go. When she answered the door, we did not know what to expect. To our surprise, she invited us in, offered us dinner, and in the course of the next 30 minutes opened up to us and told us more about her life, hardships, and family showing us pictures going back several generations. What had happened I wanted to ask? Why the sudden change? But the answer was obvious. You can only fight against love and pure intentions for so long. When she finally realized that we were there only to share something that means so much to us and invite all to learn for themselves, bitterness and confusion could not remain.
I wish I could do this experience more justice. But let me share that it is something I will never forget. When one counters opposition with patience and love I personally know that all can be resolved. Was it easy? Certainly not. Will it be easy for any of us to counter bitterness with love? Again, no. But is it possible? Most certainly. Trusting and looking to the example of our older Brother Jesus Christ who literally forgave those who smote and killed Him. Who was spit upon, beaten, and hung on a cross. One who had all power then and the One who will sit before us as Judge when we leave this world. And even in that moment, bleeding and dying in his mortal condition, cried out ¨Forgive them, for they know not what they do.¨
Could this tale of a Savior be true? Was there really such a man as Jesus the Christ? Did the birthday of this tiny Prince that we celebrate in this time really happen? I testify that I know Jesus Christ lives. I know that He came to this earth, lived, died, and resurrected. And I know that because of Him I too will live again.
I want to wish a (belated) Merry Christmas to all. And a Happy New Years as well.
I love you all and wish you the very best.

Elder Brighton

Monday, December 17, 2012

Dearest Family and Friends,

We have had another great week. In this Christmas time I would like to share a few brief thoughts. A few things that I know to be true.

Jesus Christ lives. He was born here on this earth, lived a perfect life, and because of Him we will live again. 

We will live again. There is a life after death. Taking the time to think and ponder on this reality changes everything. Knowing and believing truly that we have an eternity to look forward to means that this life is very important. To make an analogy, this life in many ways is the time one might take to carefully calibrate and aim a rifle before firing a shot. In our life we go about looking down the scope doing our best to line up the shot. It does not matter the amount of time we spent searching the mark, what matters is that when the moment finally comes, we are well aimed. Because when the trigger is pulled and the bullet sent, there is no going back. The small adjustments and preparations we made beforehand are what will determine where the bullet hits far down the trajectory. 

The difference in our life is that we do not have control of the trigger. No one knows when their own personal gun will go off. And so we do our best to first find the target, put everything in order and straight, and then maintain firm, never allowing the sighting to drift. Keeping our eyes fixed always on the target. And one day indeed, the gun will go off, and our trajectory at that moment is where we will find ourselves catapulted. And so in truth, this time of preparation is just that. Prepare for what comes next. Because I know that there is something more. And it is so much bigger, grander, and fuller than what we can experience here in this life. 

We each have a mission to fulfill, a family to raise, a community to strengthen. But we can never forget that we do it all with an eye fixed on the target. The goal of eternal life with our families and our Father who gave us life. That is the purpose of this life. If we were to ask ourselves, where is our scope pointed right now at this moment, if the trigger were pulled, where would the bullet find its end?

And so we must make those adjustments, big or small. Because even 1 degree off to begin with, 300 yards down the field (forgetting eternity as in fact our future is) we find ourselves far from our expected destination.

And so with all of this I mean to say that I love you, and that I know that your potential is great. Each one of you, my dear family and friends, have the ability to know the truth. To receive it, not from man, but from the very power and personage that made you. I encourage and implore you to consider the state of your relationship with your Father in Heaven, and if necessary to make the adjustments to be happy. Happy now, and tomorrow, and in 5 years, and in 50. Happy in eternity because you choose that which was good when there were so very many choices to be made.

I love you and thank you for your support and prayers.

Elder Brighton

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Dearest Family and Friends,

It is going to be a brief one this week. We are going today to help someone paint their house and then afterwards one of our investigators invited us to go downtown to a parade of clowns. A little different, but he is someone that has been incredibly prepared and receptive. His name is Samuel and he is 19. He works on the weekends as a clown and will be getting baptized the 22 of December. 

I love you all and hope that you are doing well. The weather is starting to change more here. The mornings and evenings are pretty brisk. When we go running in the morning I now wear a sweater (Alicia, the old green one that we both have). 

We are working hard and every night I go to bed worn out physically and emotionally. But we are seeing the results. We will be having a baptism this weekend of a mother whose daughters are already members. Then next weekend Samuel. Then if all continues to go well the 5th of January we will be baptizing a family of 4. They are super great. 

In reading Acts this last week I learned that what we do as missionaries is not something new, or something that we do as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In truth, anyone who believes in Christ should know that the preaching of the gospel is something he commanded us to do. Acts describes how so many people (primarily focuses on Paul) went, preached, and baptized. It really makes me happy to read how each time they describe the conversion of a person it mentions also how they they are baptized and even often mentions their receiving the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. That is what it means to believe in Christ, to have faith in Him. It means to do what he said to do. To show our faith, to make the covenant of baptism and enter in the door to eternal life. 

Something simple, but forgotten I think by many people. The importance to act on the faith we have. 

I love you all and hope to hear from you this next week. Monday will be transfers. I do not anticipate any changes in our companionship, but you can never be sure!

Elder Brighton

Monday, December 3, 2012

Dearest Family and Friends,

I would love to share with all of you some great and unforgettable experiences that I was blessed to have this last week. This past weekend two people were baptized. A young adult named Francisco and a young man named Matías. Both are incredibly special and it has been a great process working and getting to know them both. But today I would like to share with you more about the young man Matías.

We met Matías a month ago or so one night in the home of his cousins. As we began talking to this young man of 14 years it became apparent that he was mature for his age, someone who thinks about more then what he sees. As we have gotten to know him I have been impressed by his patience, maturity, and ability and desire to learn and understand. In talking with his aunt and uncle we learned that he was born into and has grown up in a very difficult situation. He never knew or met his father, his mother has often not been present, and to be brief and simple, there have been moments of abandonment. And yet, I want you all to know that he is a young man full of love for his mother, for his grandmother, and for all people. He is quiet, but full of energy and happy to talk and share. As he has taken the time to learn and focus on his relationship that he has personally with his Father in Heaven, he has been able to develop a faith and assurance in himself and in his life.
We have been able to get to know Matías, and every time I interact with him I develop a greater love and respect for him. His baptism was a very special moment, and seeing him stand confidently with a smile on his face, knowing the things he has seen and heard in his life, I am filled with love for Jesus Christ for what he has done so that a person can really be cleansed from feelings of shame, guilt, confusion, and pain. All is possible through the love of Jesus Christ. I say that because that is what I have seen in my life, and that is what I have seen with Matías.
Then this morning we were able to stop by and get to know his mother, grandmother, and family more. As we began talking with his grandmother and mother they shared with us the changes they have seen in their son/grandson. They expressed their appreciation for the part we had played. I cannot describe how happy and content I felt this morning as I sat in their small room and we all talked and just shared a few moments together. The grandmother took some time to teach my companion and I how to mend our clothing. She taught us how to mend a simple tear, mend the cuff of the pants, and put a button back on. It was a great review from what I remember from my mother´s diligence over the years to teach me these things. The grandmother was surprised when I was able to quickly replicate what she demonstrated.
What an unforgettable moments. People quietly and simply expressing interest and love one for another. I felt very full this morning. And as we gathered to say a prayer before leaving, the mother asked that her son Matías offer it. When he finished, his mother once more was overjoyed and truly happy that her son has developed and is continuing to develop a relationship with his Father in Heaven, with God.
Well the work has its moments when you can pause and look what your meager efforts have done. We have been blessed this week to have several moments like that. See people who have overcome incredible things and are truly happy.

I send my love and my appreciation for your continued support and love.

Elder Brighton