Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Dearest Family and Friends,
Due to some fortunate changes, I will now have a little more time to write each week. So I will do my utmost to take advantage of it and share more of what is going on for me. Hope I do not bore you with more details. Sorry I have not written much in the last couple of weeks. We have been very busy.
First, I have had a couple of questions from family members and friends and I thought I might share the answers with all.
Do you wear a watch? If so, how's that watch tan line coming along? 
I do indeed wear a watch, and the tan line is quite impressive. I do not know if it is quite at the level of when I spent my summer as a lifeguard, but it is getting there. And we are entering into Spring now, so that may well mean more sun (not actually sure how it will be here seeing as how I have never been here in the spring before). 
Is it harder for you to write in English rather than Spanish?
I do not know if I can say it is harder to write in English, but occasionally I do note that my grammer may slide towards Spanish construction. Some words and phrases are definitely slipping away. (for example, could someone help me out with madre soltera, the phrase in English for a mom that lives alone with her children).

Are you thinking in Spanish mostly now instead of English?
To be honest, I do not think in a language. I do not think anyone really does. I think in thoughts and images and emotions. But when I am constructing sentences and phrases, it is in Spanish and not in English. On a number of occasions I have had dreams where I am back among family and friends, but as I start to talk to them, I can only speak Spanish and no one understands me. And then when they start talking, I am not able to understand their 'English'. So as far as the language goes, I feel that I can say now that I truly speak Spanish. I look forward very much to the many opportunities being back in Texas to communicate with so many people that I could not before.

Have you been singing much lately? Have you ever tried singing to or with an investigator? Kind of weird maybe but just curious because often songs can bring the spirit better than other things.
Though I sing much less than I used to, I still try to every chance I get. We begin each companionship study with a hymn, and very often we begin lessons with everyone we teach with a hymn as well. Funny that you ask this question this week, because this week, for the first time, I shared a song with a family we were teaching. After telling us about some particularly horrible things they had been through, we felt very helpless and unsure.
(As I was writing this part, just outside of the cyber that we were using three gunshots were fired. Everyone got riled up and they quickly pulled down the metal curtain. I do not think anything really happened, the cars involved took off quick. First time I have been that close to a shooting. We have been very safe and blessed in all moments, but please do continue to pray for us and the good people here.)
Okay, the songs. And so after hearing this all, instead of trying to do anything else, I felt the desire to share a couple of songs. After singing them in English, I told them what they said. One is '''O My Soul Hungered' and the other ''Consider the Lillies''. It felt great to sing, and indeed, it seemed to have a greater impact than words alone may have offered.

How's the weather? scenery? your apartment?
The weather is great. It never really got cold. Some evenings I may have been a little more comfortable with a sweater, but usually I was fine with my short sleeve white shirt and pants. We are entering spring this week, which seems to mean that there will be more rain. It has been very sunny lately and starting to heat up. Most days it gets up to about 35 degrees C. Not sure what that is exactly in F. The scenery is great. Although much of the area I work in is dirt roads and simple brick houses, much of it is up in little hills. From the tops we can see all of Guadalajara. It is a city of almost 6 million people, so it is quite a site. We are also on the edge, so in the other direction there are green hills and valleys. The apartment is good. Tabletop gas stove serves to do any heating we want to do. I continue eating my bowl of oatmeal each morning. Little by little I have been buying things to make the house a little more homely. A couple weeks ago I bought a scale to see the damage I had done. It was not to bad and I am happy to say that after setting a goal for this week I am now there at 74 kilos. I do very much look forward to the chance to run again.
We have started going each morning to a little park about 3 minutes away. My companion stretches, does pushups and abs and I run each morning for 20 minutes. I have really enjoyed it. How much I have missed running! I do look forward to the time that I can go for a nice long, hard run.
Is the place you email some distance from your apartment?
We have a little cyber right around the corner, about 3 minutes walking. That is the way we use computers here, little busineses that charge about 10 cents every 8 minutes. Works well.

How is your hot water situation?

I am very pleased to say that we have hot water! Our boiler, which we light each morning, did not work for the first 6 months here (which naturally was almost all of the winter). But I later found out that the father of one of the families that we have really come to love works on boilers as part of his job. So he came over one night and quickly fixed it up. So we now enjoy warm showers each day.
Let me take a moment to comment more on what we have been up to down here.
Jose Carmen, the man that received a blessing and walked again has been doing great. A good brother from the ward gave him a suit to wear, and he comes to church each Sunday, making the sacrifice to walk quite a distance. He has been sharing with his neighbors and each time we pass he has a new family for us to visit. Through him we have started teaching a family of about 25 people, 3 generations. Having recently lost a son/brother to an accident, they are really seeking for answers right now. It has been a blessing to share this message of peace and assurance with them.
This last week I completed 7 months here in this area. That is quite a while, and I have really come to love all of the people here. The members have come to trust and love us as well. We get phone calls several times a week now asking if we can come and help with this or that, give a blessing, or simply an invitation to eat. On several occasions I have felt that it is all worth the effort when someone introduces me as the 'hard working', 'servicial', 'spiritual', or 'dedicated' missionary. We have seen incredible changes. This area, once commonly known as the tough, or less desirable area has become one of the most successful in the mission. We still have much work to do and nothing comes easy, but putting out trust in the source that does not fail, we will contine to take His yoke upon us, because with Him, truly the burden is light.
To finish this lengthy letter this week thought I might mention one other thing. Before my time here I rarely dreamed, or at the least I hardly ever remembered dreaming. But almost every night I have very vivid and lingering dreams. Sometimes enjoyable, and sometimes exhausting it is always nice to pass a few hours each night in the presence of all my good friends.
Thinking of and praying for you,
Elder Brighton

Monday, March 4, 2013

Dearest family and friends,

It has been another great week. We had transfers again, but I will be staying here for another 6 weeks to finish training Elder Rios. I have really fallen in love with this ward and area.

This week, among many other things, we added another skill to the toolbox. Arriving at an appointment one evening, we found that the small grass area was on fire and burning behind the neighbor´s house. Seeing as how it was making its way dangerously towards the house, we grabbed some buckets and a hose and helped them put it out, running up and first wetting the grass in between and later slowly pushing the fire back. It was  a great and very unexpected experience, but the family was very grateful. They had been losing the battle, but with a little help combating from the other side as well, in not too long we had it all under control.

Time is super short, but we are really getting after it. 

Elder Brighton