Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Dearest family and friends,

This last week marked the end of the time Elder U and I had together. After a very special 3 months with a lot of hard work, we received new companions yesterday. Because of the amount of people we have been able to work with here in this area, the Mission President decided to send two more missionaries. And so we took the large area we have been working in and split it in two. Yesterday arrived two brand new missionaries, so I will be training again! Though it can be a little heavy sometimes, I feel blessed to be in the position to teach and help these new Elders adjust and learn how to work and love the people here. 

My new companion is Elder R. from Veracruz, Mexico. We are similar in many ways. He also was studying engineering (electrical) before coming and plans to return to it afterwards. He is a great person and is going to be an incredible missionary. Not sure why I keep getting blessed with such strong and kind and dedicated companions. I know I will also learn a lot from him.

I think I will start a new habit here where I breifly mention when I receive letters or packages from people, for no reason other than to let them know that I received it. I hope that does not make anyone feel uncomfortable. If so, let me know and we can try to find another way.

I am not going to try to mention all that I have recieved previously, I will only mention that I did receive (and am extremely grateful for) Christmas/birthday packages from:

Grandma and Grandpa Brissette
Reidel Family 
Package of letters from the ward

Also this week I received letters from

Thank you all so much for your support in this manner. It is hard to describe how it feels to know that someone remembers me and is thinking and praying for me. I love you all and will be looking to find the time to write you all back soon. 

To share a brief experience. I very much doubt that there will be a time of my life that will have so many roller coaster days and experiences as  we have now on the mission. I would like to give an example of each that I have had recently. 

Low first. Can you imagine what it would be like to actually see and feel the following? Meeting a young man who lives with his father and 2 younger brothers. Someone who has struggled in his life with many challenges, addictions, and burdens placed on him because of others decisions. Someone who wants what is best for his brothers and family and makes sacrifices to help them be happy and have the basic needs. Get to know him and help him grow closer to God. Help him stop smoking, and alleviate himself of other addictions as well. Watch him as he begins to be happy, to smile, to be confident. Watching as the Gospel of Jesus Christ takes affect in his life and things truly begin to change. 
And then one day to come and find that he has given himself over again to his old addictions and more, That he has allowed old friends to enter and persuade him that he does not need God. To hear him now repeat to you that there is no God and that the devil does not exist. That there is no sin and no consequence.  And all this after having personally experienced the sweet and simple blessings of humbly obeying the commandments of our Creator. It is heartbreaking. And yet there remains the speck of hope that the day will come when he will remember what he learned, remember what he felt, what he knew, and will humble return to his Father in Heaven in prayer. The hope remains, but it is surely surrounded by a pool of sadness and confusion. 

But surely these moments of sadness cannot compare with the joy that comes of witnessing change and repentance. Something so personal and sacred between God and man. To be brief. Words cannot describe what it was like to share a moment with a mother and her sons. She works hard to provide for them and so is rarely home when we visit. But as we have begun to pass and help her teach her children to love themselves, their family, and Christ, we have grown much with them. In this night, the mother arrived home earlier and was present when we concluded the short lesson with a prayer. Her youngest son of 7 years wanted to say the prayer. As he fervently prayed that God would give them food to eat and water to drink, that he would help the sick and the homeless, that he would bless the good people and the bad people too, that he would care for them, their family, his brother, we were able to watch as the mother looked at her son, with emotion, unbelieving of the purity of his heart. What an example are the pure and sweet children for their parents. Truly we ourselves must humble ourselves and become as those little children.

With the highs and lows, we press on. I know this is the work of the Lord and not my own. Otherwise it would have failed many months ago. I love you all and wish you the very best. Keep praying for me and my companion. We need it badly in many aspects. 

Humbly and truly yours,
Elder Brighton

Monday, January 21, 2013

Dear family and friends,

I thought I knew what tired was before I came here. I remember days falling asleep on my knees as we held family prayer each night. Especially as I began high school and adjusted to waking up each morning for seminary at 5, adjusted to the increased mileage for cross country, and adjusted to actually studying for my classes. I remember weeks and months in college waking up at 5:30 to go for 10-15 mile runs with the cross country team and then staying up late studying and finishing up assignments and problem sets. Truly a demanding schedule. And yet, I can say with confidence that I have never felt so tired as I do each night as I crawl into bed at 10:30. Though I get nearly 8 hours of sleep every night, the work is exhausting. Exhausting in the very best way. 

The thing is that when you give everything 100%, physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally, the exhaustion arrives to another level. But for the record, I would not have it any other way. 

I have learned that I am a person that really enjoys and looks forward to change. While perhaps others enjoy falling into a pattern week after week, I grow anxious, looking for new things for change. This sort of self discovery will serve me well I know. Professionally I know I will have to search for a career that allows me to explore, see and do new things, and not have the same set of tasks month after month and year after year. Change, newness, adventure, uncertainty. 

Personally, I am doing well. Recently I have been thinking more of home than usual. I hope that everyone is doing well and looking for ways to lift others in simple and sincere ways. I hope no one is afraid of being different, of expressing sincere love and affection for those that surround them. That we do not fear goodness, but rather those things crude, cruel, and dark. That our sense of humor helps others to laugh and relieve themselves of burdens, but that we do not mock that which is sacred, innocent, or otherwise undeserving of our levity. I pray that we have the courage to be ourselves, remembering always our divine origin and potential. Live honestly and openly, most importantly with ourselves. Eliminating the hypocrasy that destroys self confidence and trust. That we live in a way that we feel comfortable looking our friends and aquaintances in the eyes without shame.

My dear friends, I thank you for your support and love. I thank you for all you do for my family while I am away and ask that you continue in this. You have my sincere gratitude and love.

Elder Brighton

Monday, January 14, 2013

There is no blog post today. We received voice recordings and Elder Brighton is doing well, working hard and having wonderful experiences, and enjoying the people and the work. He will remain in the same area at least through the next transfer, so for at least another 8 weeks.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Dear Family and Friends,

Wanted to share a few experiences that I have had here in the last little bit. Yesterday was testimony meeting in the church, an opportunity once a month for the members to share their beliefs in Jesus Christ and what they have come to know to be true for themselves. There were two in particular that really struck me. One was from a member that had been less active for over 20 years. We have had the blessing to play a role in his coming back to church. After visiting him a few times, giving him a priesthood blessing, and encouraging him to come in and have an interview with the Bishop, the course, it seems, of his faith has changed immensely. Our first visit he seemed very depressed and without a lot of hope for what was to come. Though his situations have not changed tremendously, his attitude and outlook have. He has not missed a Sunday in over a month, and yesterday he stood up and shared a powerful testimony of the reality of Christ and his testimony of His restored church. It was a very special moment. 

Then a little later a young man that goes with us to visit families every now and again got up to share his testimony. In it he included a brief comment about an experience we had together. These last weeks it has been raining some and has been relatively cold. Within a while of leaving the house, with raincoat and umbrella, we ended up pretty soaked anyways. In his testimony he briefly said he knows of the truthfulness of the missionary effort. He shared that although sometimes we suffer in the cold and wet, having one brief moment together with a family sharing a message of Christ and seeing them accept it and begin to change their life for the better makes every effort and discomfort worth the effort. It certainly gave me a lot of encourgement to hear him share that thought. I also know it is true. 

Let me also share some fun or interesting experiences. I have learned a few new skills in the various service activities we have done here. Included in those are:
Enjarar- not really sure what that translates to, but it is mixing a sort of cement paste that you then throw on a brick wall to later paint. It took some time getting used to flinging it just right to get it to stick to the wall without falling offç

mixing cement and building walls out of bricks- one of my preferred activities

Standing on top of a roof and catching bricks that are thrown from ground level up to you- very fun and there is something graceful (as odd as that might sound) about heavy bricks being hefted up and caught in momentum. I enjoy this one a lot too.

Making piñatas- not as complicated as I might have thought

Cutting grass with a machete- sure makes me grateful for lawnmowers, even the old push one I used for all those years to be able to pay for this mission I am on now.

Painting walls- did not really learn that here, but I am perfecting the skill 

I sure do love all the different opportunities we get here to serve. We find that while people almost always say no the first two or three times, if you keep asking they do have projects they could use help for. And once we have served a person in this way, the doors open, hearts soften, and people will give us a chance to share this message so important with them. And from there, the Spirit takes over and any person willing to open their heart comes to find out and feel for themselves that the message of Jesus Christ and the restoration is true. 

I love you all and hope you have started the year with good goals and are excited to work hard to reach them. 

Wishing you the very best, 
Elder Brighton