Monday, February 25, 2013

Dearest Family and Friends,
I wanted to share another incredible experience we had here in the last week.
There is a wonderful family we have been working with since I arrived here in Mexico. It consists of a mother and her three sons. Although she has a firm desire to attend church and strengthen her personal relationship with God, she has been unable to go for over three years because of work. For all of this time she has regularly asked for a change of schedule without any success. A little over a week ago my companion and I stopped by to visit her. She had undergone jaw surgery and had been out of work now for nearly a month. As we visited with her she expressed her desire to be more with her family and be able to take her sons to church. We felt inspired to begin a fast with her that afternoon with the purpose that she would be able to receive a change of schedule.
Fasting is the voluntary abstinance of food and drink usually for a period of 24 hours. It is accompanied with prayer and the purpose is to understand the will of God and bring us closer to Him. It is the expression of the sincere desire to receive His blessings. One does not fast to receive or call attention, but rather to humble oneself and it is something very personal and private. Great blessings can be received from sincere and humble fasting and prayer.
We began the fast Wednesday in the afternoon and ended it Thursday afternoon. The good sister entered into work Friday early in the morning. As she later related to us, entering Friday her supervisor called her in. He told her the position she had been working was no longer available, but that they still had a spot for her. They asked what would work best for her. She told them that the beginning of the week would be much better, and without a second thought or question, they gave it to her. She said she had been preparing herself with a long and heartfelt explanation for all of the reasons why she needed the change, but that when they gave it to her so easily and quickly, she almost could not believe it.
When we finally did find her again home and were able to find out the news, she called us in with a great smile and after having us sit down said, ¨Elders, the fast worked!¨
How grateful we are to not be alone in this work. Problems that we have no control and no power over have again been resolved by the love, mercy, and power of our Heavenly Father. He knows us. He knows me. He knows the good sister who so desperately needed and saught his help. Occasionally, He only waits until we develop the necessary faith to ask Him. To trust in Him. What a miracle!
As a quick update on the man who regained his strength and health, he is doing great. He lives just around the corner from the sister mentioned above, an area called the Mesa. Last week he went alone and was able to take out Popular Insurance. All alone. What progress, physically, mentally, emotionally. In so many aspects. He is preparing and will enter into the covenant of baptism this coming weekend. He has a great desire to change his life, to put his trust in God. It is easy to see the difference He has already made in his life.
I am doing quite well. It is so much easier to talk about others. As soon as I arrived at this part, I blanked and have sat here now several minutes with nothing to say. Sometimes I feel that I forget myself, who I am or was. And then, all of a sudden I will remember. It is so strange how truly in losing yourself in helping others, you truly do find yourself, who you really are. So far, thus it has been with me.
I love you all and hope you are well. I am very grateful for the time I have here to work. I fear it is passing all to fast. Continue to pray for my safety, please. I will continue to pray for all of you.
Elder Brighton

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

No letter from Elder Brighton this week. Just a quick note mentioning that Zone Conference would be  Tuesday.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Matthew 25:40

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Ether 12:18
For if there be no faith among the children of men God can do no miracle among them; wherefore, he showed not himself until after their faith.
Mormon 9:19
And if there were miracles wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchangeable Being? And behold, I say unto you he changeth not; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles.
Moroni 7:29
My beloved brethren, have miracles ceased? Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither have angels ceased to minister unto the children of men.

My dearest family and friends,
I testify that miracles have not ceased. While there are so many ways in which the Lord miraculously extends his hand into our lives, we so often ignore or do not recognize His divine influence. But, as in times of old, there are moments and experiences that even the hard of heart and blind of spirit cannot deny or explain. I would like to briefly relate an experience that  we are living here, now.
About three weeks ago we received a message asking us to go and visit someone who needed a blessing, someone who was sick. They did not include the severity of the situation or, in truth, any details at all. As ordained Elders, holders of the Priesthood- the power and authority to act in the name of God- we went to search out this man. Following the pattern taught by the Savior and his apostles as outlined in James 5  Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up, we arrived and proceeded with the blessing. The man is named Jose and he was bedridden. Unable to walk, his skin ravaged with a disease that appears much like leprosy. White sores that cover his entire body with the exception of his face. He was a man broken, not just physically, but emotionally, mentally and spiritually as well. Living completely alone, in an old and abandoned hair salon. Without water or a bathroom. Only a small cot and a bucket to take care of his necessities. His sister visiting once a day bringing what she could afford to give him to eat and a bottle of water. It is hard to imagine truly a situation more tragic or crippling. And so in we walked, young men of little experience, but with the certainty of the power of God.
And so we anointed his head with oil, placed our hands on his head, and gave him a blessing of health and strength.
My dear friends and family, the power of God to heal is real. This man has done more than walk. In these short two weeks he has not only been able to lift himself out of his bed, but also has opened up and expressed himself in normal and profound conversations. He has not only found the strength to support his weight in moving himself about, but also the endurance to take hold of shovel and spade and go into the streets to work clearing and cleaning the streets in hopes that someone gives him money or food to eat in return. He has the determination to turn his life around, this time putting his trust, not in the weak flesh of man that corrupts (he learned in a very real way the truthfulness of this statement) but in the strength, mercy, and love of God that will not falter.
Jose found the strength yesterday to walk the mile and a half from where he is living to the bus stop with us to attend church. This miracle is not yet over. While God has begun to physically cure this man, the deeper and profounder cleansing of the soul is still in the process. Having never had the opportunity to study or learn to read, we are now doing all we can to teach this man the plan of God. The miracle is truly just beginning.

And so, doubt not, but be believing.

I hope that you are able to feel uplifted and edified by that experience. I would like to also briefly share some boring and mundane details of things I have done recently, that for whatever reason sometimes make this experience feel more real.

After almost 7 months of bathing in cold water, we talked to a good member of the ward who came over one evening and fixed our boiler, or water heater. For the last two weeks we have been enjoying warm water to bathe in again. What a blessing!
I have begun to enjoy making a simple smoothie in the mornings of banana and milk to accompany my oatmeal. I started putting the bananas in the freezer as I used to see my mother do and it has made me remember the many mornings of oatmeal and ¨banana shakes¨ that I enjoyed so much throughout high school. But seeing as how our freezer section of our fridge had almost completely iced closed (perhaps 4 inches by 3 inches instead of the 12 by 6 that it could be) I decided last night to deice it. We ate the little food we had in the fridge and let it melt overnight. While it is something of extreme simpleness and commonality, I found great satisfaction in scrubbing out the fridge this morning, inside and out, and leaving it completely clean.  I can now put perhaps 8 bananas to freeze at a time instead of 1 and a half. J
Elder Rios is a great companion and we are getting along great. We will be working super hard this week and I am looking forward to it. He could well have been my friend before the mission as well, seeing as how our personalities are similar and interests as well. It is nice to work with someone that can be my companion and also my friend. I feel now that the language is no longer a barrier and I can express myself freely and openly as I desire.

I hope that those who read have enjoyed and I hope very much to have the privilege and pleasure of hearing from you again soon.

Elder Brighton

Monday, February 4, 2013

(Check out last week's post too, you may not have seen it,it came a bit late)

Hello my dear family and friends,

I first off hope that everyone is doing well and finding little ways to be happy. I have been blessed to have another great companion, Elder Rios. I described a little bit about him last week. We are similar in many ways and have already been able to develop a sense of trust and respect. We had a great conversation this morning about happiness and being happy. I want to share some thoughts on that topic.

As many of you know, I have the tendecy to work hard in everything I do. Perhaps occasionally too much, forgetting the reason and the ultimate goal. Why is it we do the things we do? With my previous companion, Elder Umaña, we were able to buckle down and work like never before. We had some great accomplishements and were able to reach out and help many people. But at times I got lost focusing so much on working, working, doing one more thing. I learned so much from this time. 

Before anyone gets too worried for me, be assured I do not plan on backing off in the least. We will still be keeping a breakneck pace and doing all we can, but now, with the help of Elder Rios, I will allow myself to be happy. To be smiling, speaking always from the heart, sharing experiences from my life to inspire and uplift, and most importantly, listening with my heart and mind. Not just trying to understand, but also to internalize, to feel what it is the good people here are feeling. 

But now I am getting away from the topic of happiness. As Elder Rios expressed his feelings and thoughts this morning, the conversation included more or less the following. 

We are here to be happy. Not just on the mission, but in life. If we think a commandment or a morale restricts us and keeps us from being really happy, then we do not understand the why, or we do not see the big picture. What father wants his children to be unhappy? 

Personally I am learning that sometimes all it takes to be happy is to have the courage to face my thoughts and feelings straight up. If I am feeling stressed or upset it is usually because I am worried about a person or a situation. If I then think clearly and directly about the situtation, identify those aspects that I can control, those I cannot, make plans for those parts I can, and pray for the rest, I can then be happy. 

A goal to set for myself is to make happiness the default. I will never forget the example of my older sister Alicia. She showed and taught me the way to be happy. ¨¨Make it a great day or not, the choice is yours.¨¨ In the morning at 5 20 getting ready to go to seminary each morning of high school, late at night studying for the upcoming test, across a computer moniter through skype while alone at the university. Alicia, in every moment that I needed it, was there to tell and show me what happiness can be. I still remember and think of her when I find myself in those rough spots. 

Happiness the default. And when I am unhappy, do what is necessary to become happy once more. Smiling and loving and living from the inside out. 

I love each of you and appreciate the support you give me. I want you to know that your prayers are an incredible blessing and I know there have been very specific instances when your prayers have protected me, guided me, and kept me from harm. Please keep me in your prayers. I would also love, as your time permits, to receive a letter about how you are doing. Perhaps a picture included of you with your family and/or friends. 

I love you all, and miss you much. But this is the work of the Lord and I am priviledged to take a small part.

Elder Brighton