Saturday, December 28, 2013

Dearest family and friends,

I had a great week, highlighted with the brief video call home. It was nice to see everyone again. Crazy to see how much Stacey, Alex, and Scott have all grown. Stacey especially since she is right in that age of a lot of growth. Hardly could believe how tall she is now. And was impressed by her great flexibility and gymnastics. It makes me really happy to see that she is doing something that she enjoys and is really good at. Sure do miss everyone! But I am doing well, aside from my receding hair line as noticed and immediately mentioned by everyone present in the phone calls... thanks guys. (I really do not think it is that bad and have faith that when the stress of the mission is over everything will thicken out again...)

For my part, I am doing quite well and enjoying being with Elder Umaña again. We have both changed a lot in the last year. But it was fun to pass the Christmas season together and think back on the similarities and differences of last year.

Take advantage of the time to go and visit as many people as we could. Singing a hymn or two and reading the Christmas story from Luke 2.

Having great experiences as we entered the houses of people who otherwise did not have visitors or family in the holiday season. Expressing our love and feeling it reciprocated.

Last year we had a bowl of cereal and milk for Christmas dinner. This year we were invited to eat with a family the evening of the 25th and enjoyed a tasty and warm meal.

Last year the phone call was pretty hectic with lots of people around and hard to hear. This year it was calm and went smoothly.

Last year I looked forward to another to be passed in the mission. This year I look forward to being with my own family for the next one.

A final thought from this week. After having offended a person it requires more than a simple “I´m sorry for what I said or did” for a change or improvement in the relationship to occur. Part of the repentance process, following the apology includes restoring the damage. That is almost always going to involve a conversation a little bit longer in order to express love, appreciation, and sincerity. Just like a small and simple slip of the tongue can ruin relationships and friendships, a small and simple (but sincere) expression of love can turn a negative experience into a positive one.

What does that mean? It means that if we apologize sincerely, mistakes that we make can actually be turned into opportunities to strengthen relationships. I have learned that that is true and can have real power.

Hope everyone has a great week, a good new year, and is able to take time to reflect on the goals and personal progress of the waning year and make positive and definite goals for the coming.

With love,
Elder Brighton

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Dearest family and friends,

Let me start of by sending a very Merry Christmas! I hope we can all pass this Holiday season happily recognizing that the bigger joy comes as we spend our effort giving and serving. 

It has been a crazy and satisfying week. There were definetely some nights without much sleep, lots of trips to the airport to pick up different groups of missionaries, and many hours spent traveling and training. It is hard to believe, looking back, that it all happened in just one week.

Yesterday after arriving from Tepic, Nayarit at about 8:30 pm, and after a long and honestly tiring week we were on a final local bus headed back to the offices. The bus was pretty empty, around 10 people there. We had been celebrating Christmas all week with the missionaries so I guess we had a pretty good Christmas spirit. I turned to my companion and said, "if you give a brief introduction, I will sing a Christmas song". He smiled and got up to ask permission from the driver and briefly explain that we were missionaries etc. 

Here on the busses it is quite common for people to get on and sell things. Ranging from chewing gums and candies, to workbooks for english, math, science, etc, to pictures, to relics, you name it. And lots of people get on to sing and ask for money as well. So getting up to sing a song is nothing novel in itself. 

I decided to sing "What Child is This", happy because I love the song. Anyone that rides the bus gets used really fast to ignoring and turning away from anyone selling, singing etc. So it was fun to see how at first everyone reacted, turning to stare out the window, pulling out a phone, putting in earphones. But as the song went on slowly the faces started to turn, conversations were paused, the phones were put down, and even the young man in the front discreetly pulled his earphones out. It is a beautiful song, a sweet rendition of the birth of our Savior in humble conditions to his mother Mary. The song concluded, I extended the invitation to all to remember the true spirit of Christmas in this special time of the year and passed the address and hour of our weekly services. A stop or two later we got off. But I certainly felt a nice, sweet, Christmas Spirit, or in other words, the Spirit of Christ.

This week there have been three of us as Elder Casas accompanied us to the different trainings.Monday he gets on the plane in time to be home with his family for Christmas. And Elder Umaña and I will be left to really get going. 

This week I had the great blessing of spending almost every day with President Wagner, his wife and daughter. Monday and Tuesday we trained the new missionaries together. WednesdayThursday andFriday we were together as we trained and celebrated Christmas with a simple program each day. In our travel time together we took advantage to discuss different things of interest, such as what the scriptures teach about the Second Coming of Christ, the importance of repentence, and some current challenges the world and society is facing. I am grateful for the time to spend with him.

Things are going great! I am looking forward to another wonderful week. I hope everyone has a great week and is able to spend their time with the people they love most.

Elder Brighton

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Dear family and friends,

Boy howdy this week sure has passed fast! Here are a few awesome hilights.

This week I went on divisions to visit my first area in Auditorio. What an incredible blessing!! Everything went great, right on down to the family we ate with. Luch was scheduled with the Ramos family, a family we worked a lot with and came to love a ton while I was there. She is currently serving as the relief society president and he is now the mission leader. (We ate hamburgers and I maintained my good reputation, eating 3 large ones against 2 by each of the other 3 Elders.) It is a family that the more you eat, the happier they are.

Also while there we had a few more significant and special experiences. Among them, two of the people that I spent a lot of time teaching are now going to be baptized, taking the decision to dedicate themselves to live the commandments of God in their fulness. One is the sister of one of our first converts, who was baptized December 1, 2012. She will be baptized today, December 14, 2013. The other person is the father of a young lady who left for a mission while I was there. We began teaching them, and he was just starting to soften his heart when I was changed. His wife had progressed well and will likewise soon be baptized. What a blessing to see their progress after all this time.

We were also able to meet with a faithful sister and her husband in the evening and share fish and vegetable soup and our testimonies. A great, simple moment.

So that is one super awesome thing in the week... but it does not end there. 

One of the families we are teaching has decided to be baptized the 28th of December. That means they will be confirmed on my birthday, the 29th. Great present, the very best of them all.

Also, this morning we were invited to the house of President and Sister Wagner so that my companion could take an English test. Great news.... he passed!!! While he took his test I got to sit and help make some paper snowflakes and converse with both the president and his wife. Always a blessing to be around people who are examples of a deep and lasting happiness reached by obedience and dedication.

While there, a companion that I had for 3 months but finished his mission 5 months ago came into town for a visit. It was great to see that he is doing well, has lost a lot of weight, and is happy. 

And the last news for the week. Tomorrow the new assistant will arrive to be my new companion. And it is going to be.... Elder Umaña!!! He was my second companion, the first person I trained. As a quick review, he is now 27, is a public accountant, graduated with a masters degree in his field of study, and is a great friend of mine now in the mission. I especially enjoyed being with him because while together we could both be 100% focused and dedicated to the great mission work we have been called to do. His maturity, dedication, testimony, knowledge, and ability to reason things out, as well as the great communication we developed in our time together will be a great blessing for me. He gets here tomorrow and I am looking forward to this next week together.

Here is a brief outline of what this next week will be like for me.

Sunday evening- last dinner with the generation of missionaries going home in the home of the Mission President
organize and communicate the companionship changes in the mission

Monday morning- leave the offices at 5 AM to get those missionaries to the airport in time for their early flights
Recieve 3 sister missionaries that get here early from the MTC in Mexico City
Train them
Recieve a new Elder arriving from Nicaragua
Return for the 3rd time in the night to recieve 10 sister missionaries and 1 Elder that are arriving from the MTC in Provo (they are going to be the first american sister missionaries in the mission)

Tuesday- train the rest of the new missionaries and get them to their areas

Wednesday- training with all the leader missionaries in Colima, Manzanilo, and the Cuidad Guzman. We will be driving out with the president and his family to Colima where we will meet wiht all of them for a training and afterwards a Christmas celebration

Thursday- same thing as Wednesday, but here in Guadalajara

Friday - same thing, but this time headed out to Tepic, to see them as well as the missionaries from Santiago and Vallarta

and that will get me back to next Saturday.

It is going to be a great week. We have a million logistics planned that we are praying will all work out smoothly. I am excited to have the chance to see all of the missionaries of the mission all within a period of 3 days. 

Anxiously engaged in this, the Lord´s work. 

Yours truly,
Elder Brighton

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Dear family and friends,

It has been another great and crazy week. This week I had the privledge of going back to the area in Vallarta where I was before. I had a great day working and visiting many of the good people that I had taught while there. It was so gratifying to see that several families that had been on the verge of progressing well when I was called to leave are now doing great and making significant changes in their lives. 

Then for the first time I was left in my area to work with another Elder that came from Nayarit. So it was interesting to make my way through the city to the different appointments and try not to get lost. It was a success and we had several significant teaching opportunities. 

The week just finished up with the baptism of a young girl who is the granddaughter of a member here. It was a nice, simple, spiritual service. 

Also as a funny note, last week I sent a quick message to Rice asking about the process to be readmitted and what all would be involved. Since I had put everything in order before leaving and had gotten official permission, I figured it would be pretty simple. I just laughed today when I printed off the 13 page application/questionaire/explication. Who knows when I will find the time to get that all done... but all is well. I am confident that everything will go well. 

I am doing GREAT! I am having powerful experiences as I raise my voice, strive to put a good example, and work side by side with so many of the great Elders here in the mission. It is worth noting that Tuesday of this last week was my first chance to train all of the zone leaders of the mission in a mission counsel. I felt suprisingly calm and it went really well. Through kindness, sincerity, and directness we are gaining the confidence of the leaders and of the mission. We are working for, praying for, and expecting miracles and great changes. I am so grateful to be both a humble witness and active participant of all that is happening.

Love you all and hope we can all wear ourselves out each day, happily dedicating our time to those things that matter most to us. Finding joy in our labours. 

With love,
Elder Brighton

Saturday, November 30, 2013

This was a busy week with a lot of different things going on. 

At the very end of last week we had an Elder get very sick, and for a few hours thought we might lose him. He had serious complications following the surgery for appendicitis. For nearly a day he was in a state of coma, unconscious but reacting somewhat violently to physical stimuli. When he was brought back around, his short term memory was gone. For a day his memory would restart every 5 minutes or so and he would ask the same questions over and over. Where am I? Why am I here? What happened? That conversation was repeated over and over. As the days passed his ability to retain improved and the lapse grew longer and longer. Today, he is back at nearly 100%. It has been a miracle. They expected it to take approximately 3 to 4 months. And now, 7 days later he remembers everything and is growing bored of being here in the offices with us working on a large puzzle and solving the rubix cube. It has been a great learning, mind-opening, and maturing experience for me to see the reality of mortality, the weakness and impotency we have to even control our own body, and the complete power and control of our Heavenly Father.

Aside from that experience, we have been busy as always. As a consequence we could not travel far away for a couple of days and I had the chance to be in my own area a little bit more. It was nice to work with and meet the people here in the city of Guadalajara whom I will be working with for the next couple of months at the least.

Then, Thursday, I had the chance to travel to Colima (a little less than 3 hours) to work with Elder P. He was my very first companion when I reported to the MTC in June of last year. We were together for about 4 days at the beginning so it was special to be together again and see how much we have learned, experienced, and grown. If I had not been with him I think I would have completely forgotten it was Thanksgiving. We were able to take a few minutes as we walked the streets of Colima to share the many different things we are grateful for. Though there was no turkey this year, it was nice to be able to remember to give thanks for all we have been so graciously given.

I attached a few photos that I took on the way back. The bus we rode in was two stories and we got the seats on top in the very front. Aside from helping with any motion sickness, the view was beautiful. There in Colima is an active volcano. It is not dangerous (according to the people I talked to). Thursday it actually erupted and spewed out a large grey cloud of ash. Seems to happen pretty frequently. So the photos attached are of that volcano, and it is not snow, it is ash. There is also a photo of a bit of the country side we were passing.

I am doing well, learning lots, and working hard.

Lots of love,
Elder Brighton

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Dearest family and friends,

Wow, I hope everyone is doing great. Because I cannot think of any other way to convey what the last week has been like, let me just give a quick run  down. In my new assignment I have a lot more diversity of activities and responsibilities, so that makes it fun.

Last Sunday I left Vallarta headed to Guadalajara at 10 AM. Upon arriving around 2:40, I had a few minutes to get to know the offices a little bit, and then the Elders that had finshed their two years time arrived and we took them to a dinner at the home of the Mission President. By the time that event ended it was pretty late. We put together the weekly newsletter and sent it off, getting to bed a bit after midnight

Monday we got up at 5 to get the Elders off to the airport. Just a few short minutes after they made their way through security, a group of new Elders arrived. So we got all their luggage and helped them make it back to where they would receive their companions. We spent most of the day training them and teaching them about the mission and safety and things like that. By the time we got everyone on their way to their respective parts of the mission it was just about evening. We spent a couple hours that night going out to visit some families of the area I will be assigned to here. 

Tuesday morning we had an Elder that is originally from here heading to a mission in Monterrey so we got up at 4 to take him to the airport. Then afterwards we had a conference of Elders in this zone until midday. After lunch I gathered my bags and headed to Ciudad Guzman, about two hours from here to visit the Elders there and see how things are going. It was a great experience as I was able to work with Elder U, my second companion from the misison. We worked hard and had a good time together, teaching and testifying side by side once more. 

I headed back to Guadalajara Thursday morning just in time to change, grab a change of clothes, and head off to meet up with some other Elders serving here in Guadalajara. I visited and worked with them Thursday and Friday and likewise was able to learn and teach a lot. While there I was able to so some great exercise Friday morning with some weights that they had there in their apartment. It felt great, and I have that wonderful sore feeling still... I had missed that sensation. 

I made it back here to my area Friday evening with time to go and meet a couple of families. 

And so it has indeed been a whirlwind of a week. In fact, I have still not unpacked... I hope to do that a little later on today. I have just pulled a couple of shirts out of my luggage. 

There is something wonderful about wearing yourself out for a good and pure cause. 

And so I have a lot to learn, and even more to do. But there are a few perks that I have enjoyed. Hot water to shower in! I just about wanted to shout with joy that first night at about 12:30 AM when I realized we had hot water that worked well. We also have a washer and a dryer here in the offices! Incredible! I will have at least a couple months without washing by hand.

To finish up this letter I want to share a quick experience my companion and I had that was impressive. The trip between Vallarta and Guadalajara is 5 or 5.5 hours. I have done the trip now 16 times. Every single time it has taken at least the 5 hours. So when I got the call Saturday night that told me I needed ot be in the offices at 3 PM at the latest, and checked and saw that the bus left at 8 AM or at 10 AM it seemed clear that if I left at 10 I would just barely arrive to the bus terminal at 3 PM and would not be to the offices in time to be trained and to receive the incoming Elders. Leaving at 8 AMwould mean missing the church service, and not being able to say goodbye to a couple of the people I have come to know and love here. And so my companion and I decided we would follow our own promise that we make each week to the people we teach. If we put God first, make sacrifices, and have faith, He will do His part so that all will come out well. And so we decided to attend church, leave at 10 AM and pray that we would make it on time.

We went to church, and a few minutes before the service started the Bishop came over and said that one of the speakers had not arrived and asked if one of us could share a message. I happily accepted and was able to share my testimony on the ressurection of Jesus Christ, and the hope we have knowing that we too will all ressurrect one day, each and every person who has lived. I was so grateful for that tender mercy of the Lord that allowed me to stand before those good people and share my testimony. Concluding my brief message I quietly left with my companion and headed to the bus terminal. That is how it is as missionaries, quietly arrive, work with all your heart, might, mind, and strength, pray that your efforts bless the life of some one person or family (if not more), and quietly leave. Always giving the credit and honor to the Giver of Life.

We boarded the bus on time, and quietly sat and witnessed the power and love of God. We arrived to the bus station in Guadalajara at 2:15, four hours and fifeteen minutes later. Let me repeat that I had previously made that journey 15 times and each and every time had been over 5 hours. I arrived to the offices of the mission with 15 minutes to spare, grateful to know that my Heavenly Father is conscious of all of us His children and our simple needs and desires.

I know that there is a God, a Creator, and a Father of us all. I know that we are His work and glory. He loves us, despite all things. I know that He has and does communicate with man so that we may know the way he would have us go. By experience and obedience I have come to know that our conduct does matter in this life, and with all of my heart I know that He is willing to forgive us of our errors and cleanse us of our sins. We can repent, we can feel the burden of shame, guilt, uncertainty lifted from off our shoulders. Jesus is the Christ. He came to this earth soas to gain the power and right to be the one to take away our sorrows and sins. My burden has been lightened and my life has been changed. 

I love my eternal family and I love my good friends.

Elder Brighton

Monday, November 11, 2013

Hello all,

Just a really quick note to let you know I am well. I recieved a change of area and a new assignation. So I am back in Guadalajara and now working as an assistant to the mission President here. These last 24 hours have been new, but great. Today we were able to take a group of missionaries to the airport to send them back home after two years of service, and just a few minutes later recieve a large group of new missionaries excited to start their service. It was a day of giving lots of presentations, but it went well and I am now headed out to get to know the new area. The weather is beautiful this time of the year and I am looking forward to these next few months.

With love,
Elder Brighton

Monday, November 4, 2013

After studying, pondering, and considering the needs of this area and the personal goals and things I hope to accomplish I feel that my personal faith and confidence are growing. This week we were led to meet with the president of one of the large neighborhoods we work in almost daily. We were able to gain her trust and planned a service project for the community. It went well and we will now be working with them to improve community participation in similar future events. 

That experience is starting to broaden my vision of what we can accomplish. We are now working with the Stake, as they put themselves in contact with radio stations, city government, and communities to organize a largescale event that we will take part in. We have started searching out community governments to offer our service and begin to have a great presence here. We know that in giving service many hearts are softened to receive the message of the restoration. 

And so it is requiring a new level of ability and dedication, but we are dedicated now [to becoming] a presence in this city and we trust in the Lord to [rain] down his blessings for our meager efforts. We [don't] need to be content to simply walk the streets and be spectators to the suffering and disunity so prevalent. 

And so with prayers and action we will accomplish great things here. 

love and faith,
Elder Brighton

Monday, October 28, 2013

The more that happens the less I have to say.

And so this week I can simply report that I am well and learning a lot. So many things to do and get done. And amazingly for as many new things that we learn, we can never, ever apart ourselves from the most basic and crucial things. I know the first principles of the gospel are the most important. 

With love,
Elder Brighton
The more that happens the less I have to say.

And so this week I can simply report that I am well and learning a lot. So many things to do and get done. And amazingly for as many new things that we learn, we can never, ever apart ourselves from the most basic and crucial things. I know the first principles of the gospel are the most important. 

With love,
Elder Brighton

Monday, October 21, 2013

Dear family and friends,

I am doing great and learning so much. I feel that I have really learned how to accept challenges as learning opportunities. I know that the experiences and trials that I am having now will be a great blessing in my life one day. What a great blessing to see challenges as learning opportunities.

My most impressive thought for this week is about poverty and self-sufficiency. Any person that has the honest desire to help someone leave poverty must realize that it does not come through a gifting or alms program. When we simply hand over any amount of money to another person we only temporarily satisfy a need that then grows because of the increased dependecy on that gifted money that develops. Really helping a person requires much more than that. 

If we have the desire to help someone overcome poverty or dependency it requires teaching and analysis. In reading the teachings of modern church leaders I found the idea that rang most true to my experiences that I have yet heard. The leader expressed that the idea is to lift and elevate the person to a level of self respect and self suficiency. In order to do that, they first need to feel secure, protected, and in a stable position. Providing first for their immediate needs of food, clothing, shelter, fuel, etc... Then moving in with determination and love to analyze their situation, resources, abilities, and plan to become entirely self sufficient. If we give without the intention to help them become self-sufficient, we fail in our plan. But likewise, it is nearly impossible to inspire and elevate someone with an empty stomach. 

I found that to be a beautiful combination of the natural compassionate instincts to eliminate suffering, while showing a greater comprehension for the ultimate goal and purpose.

I am learning a lot here, the least of which is not love and patience. 

I love you all and patiently wait for the time when we will be together again.

Elder Brighton

Monday, October 14, 2013

I have continued to ponder how the Atonement can actually heal us of pain. It is not so difficult for me to understand how the sacrifice of Christ allows us to repent of sins, insomuch as He paid the price putting himself between us and the effects of the law if we accept the conditions of repetence that he offers us. 

But for me the part that leaves me pondering is how He can help us be healed and feel better in those times of pain and rejection. Let me share my brief thoughts from this week.

Many toddlers and young children have a tendency to search out their mothers when they hurt themselves. Among them there are many that want their mothers to 'kiss it better'. This is an interesting phenomenon. Something that I have seen now in more than one culture and something that appears to be a little silly or unnecessary. But the incredible part about it is that it seems to make a difference for the young child. With this simple act of consolation, truly the recognition of a problem or pain, and the (admittantly inconsequential) kiss of a wound- the child is 'healed'. 

Now that is the interesting part. Where was the pain to begin with? If it were in the bloody knee, as would seem to be the case, why does an inconsequential kiss quiet the howling? The answer is in the expectation, attitude, or faith of the young child, The toddler really believes that the kiss will help and heal.... and so it does! 

So it is with the Atonement. The Atonement requires faith in order to take affect. Simply going through the motions does not have a great impact. But believing that Christ understands what we are going through, knowing that He too has suffered it, and then asking for his alivement has the power to heal us inasmuch as we believe. 

Does it sound like some mind-trick? Let me conclude with my thoughts to that question. It is necessary that we believe in order for God to complete his purposes with us. He created us so that we can be like Him. So that we can live as He lives and act as He acts. Raising a bunch of doubtful children who soley learn to go through the motions without being truly converted to eternal truths and principles would serve neither Him nor us. And so in order to encourage and lead us towards a real conversion, one that comes only throught the constant participation in a personal interaction with God and His eternal laws, He must require us to believe. He must require us to love Him. Were it not so, we would never be able to be completely ready to stand in His presence and receive our eternal recompense.

As I have pondered and applied the principle of faith in my life, my personal relationship with God, and my interactions with the rest of my earthly brothers and sisters I have felt the power of the Atonement. Unlike the 'kiss it better' treatment, there is a real power in the kiss of the Lord. One accessable only on conditions of faith and repentence. 

Elder Brighton

Monday, October 7, 2013

This week a Young man sent us a message a Little after 9 pm. He asked us if we could stop by his house. Sincé we know him well and he would not ask if there were not something wrong, we went out the door running. We arrived to find that he had had a big fight with his father. To make a long story short... his father had been unfaithful to his mother and the situation is quite complicated. He has been preparing for the misión, but is now unsure of what is going to happen. He asked for and we gave him a blessing before quickly retiring to our house to be home on time.
With that as a background let me share with you some of the thoughts I had that evening. I found it difficult to sleep as I pondered both that situation and another one of an investigator we have who is struggling because his brother is a meth addict. Lots of things. Lots of suffering and pain.
As I gave that priesthood blessing I felt inspired to say more than once that this good youth remember all that he had learned about the Atonement of Jesús Christ. That he turn to and draw himself near to its power.
And for lack of time, let me share you my thoughts that evening as I sat thinking a Little late, asking myself how it could all work. How does it really work? Sometimes a semi-poetic form helps me to concrete my thoughts, and so that is what came out.
Could anothers suffering really dull the pain?
Does knowing I am not the first to fall change the way I feel here on the ground?
What does the blood of another man have to do with my own?
Blood long spilt
tears long shed
pain long gone
But that is where the error is
for God there is no time
That pain and anguish that he felt
in truth he feels it now
It's not from a royal throne he speaks
but rather from my side
not that he felt, but that he feels
not that he cried, but that he crys
not that he lived, but that he lives
Our Savior, King, who died
Who passed through that uncertain curtain
in doing so it fell
it could not hold his perfectness his power conquered all
and so although he long since fulfilled and more with me
I find Him at my side again in this my time of need
I started out this thought process a Little upset or questioning, but by the end understood things much differently.
The atonement is not something that happened, but something that is happening. The Atonement is not an event, it is a law and a power.
I found that as I studied the scriptures I found many of them referring to this moment in the present tense, not in the past or future. Saying that he suffers, for example, instead of suffered, or will suffer.
Not enough time to elaborate, but there is a brief thought I had this week.
With great love,
Elder Brighton

Monday, September 30, 2013

Dearest family and friends,

As I sit and somewhat struggle and think of how to express some of the things I have been blessed to experience the thought came to do it in a less formal and choppier sort of way. Please do not read it as any sort of boasting or bragging, I share it in the most humble of attitudes hoping that in many cases you can respond likewise, yes! This is my attempt to communicate myself a little better.

Have you ever....

-waited in an hour of traffic to travel a couple hundred feet because it rained so much that the water erroded the dirt streets away and left them nearly impassable.

- stood in the back of a truck of a stranger as they drive down a small highway feeling the warm air rush through your gel-plasted hair, looking around you and seeing the small mountains encircle a beautifully green and thriving valley

-Knelt alongside a family as they gathered for the first time to pray togther and listened as a strong and well-reputed father expresses his love and concern for his children as he speaks with his God and Father. Witnessing a tender moment when the hearts of the children begin to soften towards their father and all feel a sense of purpose and newfound hope.

-Listened to a 40 year old man explain why he was sentenced to federal prison for over 15 years and then listen to that same man express how he has begun to feel healed from the inside out. How the torture he received, physically, mentally, and emotionally, is beginning to be erased from his mind. Hear him express hope for the first time since he left. Be a witness to his commitment to completely leave his alcoholic life behind, never more to turn. And looking him in the eyes, feel an immense love for him like I have never felt for anyone, a love that flows through me, from a loving Heavenly Father. Seeing the potential in the tired, worn, and tatooed body of a man wanting to start again. And listening as he expresses profoundly simple ideas. I am feeling a change. There really is hope even after all I have seen and felt.

-Been woken up each night at 4 in the morning by fireworks from some sort of weeklong celebration
- Gone to prayer to make a decision you thought you already knew and risen from your knees with a completely different answer

-Made all the possesions and furniture of a small house fit into the back of a largeish truck, loading and unloading everything with a handful of other guys. 

-Woken up the next day sore all over, but smiling and full of all the thanks they gave and continue give.

I have, last week.

There is another style of living that can be had. There is a happiness that can come from human interaction that need not depend on the concrete outcome of any one event. 

Keep up the happy life,
Elder Brighton

Monday, September 16, 2013

Dearest family and friends,

I realized just how much I love it when people write me with little details about what is going on in thier lives. And then I realized I never write little details. So I am repenting and writing a few things that might be fun to read about.

We spent Friday and Saturday of this last week traveling. Friday morning we left early and went to Tepic for a conference with Elder Johnson of the 70 to learn how to be better missionaries. We talked mostly about working better with the members, being diligent in our planning, and being willing to give and sacrifice everything for this time to serve. It was a very uplifting conference. Finishing up there my companion and I took a bus to Guadalajara and got there pretty late. The following morning we were able to attend the temple early in the morning, because we got the highest scores on a mission exam we took last week, and afterwards attended a training session with Elder Johnson again for the Zone leaders of the mission. It was good and we were instructed on our responsability to be an example, be obedient, and have good and pure desires. 

We arrived to the temple at 6 30 in the morning, but since there were people that had travelled from several of the nearby states of Mexico, it was full until 9 30. Great to be able to enter and feel sheltered from everything for a couple of hours. 

I have learned the power of desires. When we really want something, we find a way to make it happen. When we have things that we should do, we may do them, or if anything goes wrong we may take it as an excuse for why it could not be done. There is not doubt that wants and desires are powerful things. And so it is well worth the time to figure out what it is we really and truly desire. Do we really want and desire to work more and earn more money? Or is our desire to be able to imporve the quality of life of our family? Would that quality not improve more if we spent more time with them and less time slaving at work? And I know of a surety that time spent is so much more valuable than money given. That is just one example that has been one my mind as I work with several of the families here. 

What are my desires? What are they truly?

Fun details

One of my favorite parts of the time in this area is taking rides in the back of pickup trucks along little highway to get to church. I love being in the open air, looking around me as we pass fields, cows, tropical foilage,

We rent a two room apartment that is on top of another house. That is pretty typical for the area where we live. Someone builds there house and the second floor they rent out. We have a little patio where we do exercise in the morning. We have a homemade weight bar with the two ends having been made of cement in buckets. It is about 65 lbs and I am starting to feel stronger each day as I do various exercices. 

We are working right now with three different grown men that are overcoming addictions. Two to the alcohol and one to smoking. They are three very sincere and recently humbled men. It is incredible to think that I am taking part and seeing as God works in them and changes them. Could it be possible that two very unknowing and practically untrained boys could help free a man from a 17 year addiction.... I do not think so. But fortunently we are not alone.

My companion is from Mexico City and is a great support. We have started eating well in the mornings. I often make a big pot of oatmeal with raisens or banana, or scambled egg with jam and cheese. 

My companion has a electical raquet that he kills mosquitos and other bugs with. The area we are in has a lot of lizards and if we are walking down a path with lots of foilage on the sides good sized lizards run back and forth across the path.

Last week we had a stake conference. The Stake 'President had organized with us and to finish the conference we had a suprise musical number. As the final hymn finished, before the member passed to say the prayer we came walking in from behing singing We will Bring the World His Truth. It was a powerful close and people were talking about it for quite a while. Brought a lot of emotion to the people there and also to me as I sang.

I am learning so much how to problem solve. I feel like my capacity to identify, address, and solve problems of all types has increased and enhanced immensely. Personal, emotional, logistical, economical, you name it. But I know I have much to learn still.

And lastly, I am learning the power of love. It is a real thing. If I, as a leader, develop, feel, and express love for the people I am leading and serving, the things we can acheive together multiply. If I lead by some other principle, intellect, fear, earned respect, etc it can function to a certain degree. But it cannot be compared to the purtity and power of love. Other words for love could be, kindness, compassion, comprehension, sacrifice...

I know the message I am sharing is true. I know Jesus is the Christ and the Savior of me and of the human race. I know that He will come again, although I do not know when. And I know that He has established and restored His kingdom in the earth to prepare us for that day and moment. If I do not live to see it I know I will be raised up, along with each and every one of you, to stand before Him and give an account for how I used the time, energy, and opportunities that He lovingly gave me. Of these things I have no doubt.

With love,
Elder Brighton

Monday, September 2, 2013

September 2, 2013

Elder Brighton is short on time but he made some recordings to share with everyone. If you go to the following link, you'll need to copy and paste I'm afraid, you can download and listen to them. It is one "letter" broken into short segments for emailing purposes.

Recorded message from Elder Brighton

Monday, August 5, 2013

Heading into Guadalajara today for a mission council tomorrow. It is about 5 hours away, so no time today. But here is a photo that I hope says a thousand words.

A father that was able to reactivate, receive the priesthood, and baptize his son this weekend.

Elder Brighton