Monday, April 29, 2013

Dearest family and friends,
I have been somewhat silent here in the last month or so as far as sending a letter to everyone in general goes.
So in the case that we are unable to return later today and write more, I wanted to give a brief update.
Today we moved houses. With a new policy that each companionship is to live in their own area, we moved up into the neighborhoods where we work. And so it as been crazy this morning working out the details. I have learned a whole lot in dealing with people and figuring out rent contracts and searching for someone with property to sign as a witness and backup. Not sure the technical term for that in English.
Anyways, so after almost 9 months in our little house we are now in a small, cozy, apartment farther up in the neighborhoods. Still have not moved areas and will be seeing the same people, but this little change will be nice. And hopefully we can save a little money in buses and walk more.
About 3 weeks ago I received my new leadership position. I am now serving with my companion, Elder V, as a Zone leader. It as been a little crazy these weeks as we have both adjusted to the new responsibilities (and the many phone calls). All is well and we are learning a lot from each other. Elder V has a good amount of time in the mission and will be leaving to go home in August. So we have a lot to accomplish in this time we have together.
Personally I am doing very well. The last few weeks we have been running each morning. There is a small playground that I was running around each morning. It is tiny and takes about 45-55 seconds to make the loop, but I was glad to be running again. I will not be able to run in the area we are moving to now, so looks like I´ll be going back to the trusty pushups and situps.
We have a lot of things to get done, particularly today with the move. But I love you all and hope you are doing well.
Elder Brighton 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

These are some questions mom asked that I thought all might enjoy.
Funny you should ask about the sleeping this week. I have been sleeping well. Close to 8 hours each night. From the second my head hits the pillow until the alarm goes off. But this weekend an Elder had to head back to the USA (Dallas TX to be specific) to deal with some visa issues, so we have his companion here with us. So last night I slept on the floor, so not so well. But he should be getting back in the next couple days.
We have been doing well on the money. The trick is not buying things we do not need and being smart about how we spend the money. For example, if we buy what we need as we go day to day from the Little stores, good chance the money does not last. But buying at the beginning of the week for the whole week helps. Doing well, have not really lost any weight.
After several ups and downs and many learning experiences it seems we found a place to live this morning. It is a good place. One block from the highway. Here, the closer to the highway we are, the safer. The farther back into the neighborhood you get, the sketchier and darker it gets. It really is a nice house. Cozy.
We sing hymns to start each companion study and also to start most lessons. Other than that, I have been trying to sing more recently after hearing in the conference that `a singing child is a happy child`

I think two things I could have done better about are
1. Take note of the blessings I received for living the góspel. Specific blessings that came from specific obedience. That would involve writing down experiences in a journal that I could then refer to later to remember. But when we teach a principle or a commandment the very best part is when I am able to share my own personal testimony that the blessings are real and that I know if they will live the way God wants them to, they too can be blessed.
2. Practice teaching in every opportunity you get. In family home evenings, Sunday school classes, seminary, casual conversations. Practice putting myself in the shoes of others and imagine how they would be feeling, hearing something new and for the first time. What can I say to help them understand?
Just a thought.
Love you all,
Elder Brighton

Monday, April 1, 2013

Dearest family and friends,

I hope that you all had a great week and were able to take the time to think and remember the miracle of the Resurrection. The singular act that gives hope to humankind. To know with a certainty that we will live again, death is not the end. A hope that the happenings of this life have meaning. The assurity that all who have born, who have lived on this earth, will indeed live once more. 

The soul shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame.
Alma 40:23

And this life that we wait and hope for will last the eternity. No more sickness, no more physical pain. A perfect body. And this for all men regardless.

I also wanted to share a thought or two from the past couple weeks. If everything goes well I am going to attach a photo of a couple of young men that I have gotten to know here. The one to the far right is named Gabriel. I want to share something that I learned from him.

You may have heard of a sort of real life game that some people play on ebay (or perhaps now more often craigslist or similar sites). The general principle is to start with a certain object and 'trade up' until you reach another. For example, start with a phone and end up with a car. While it seems a little unusual and perhaps impossible, it is doable. 

In the photo, behind the young men is a large sound setup. It is made up of several speakers, sound boxes, a mixer, and a bunch of other things that I honestly do not know what they are called. All of this equipment was aquired by trades. Here in this part of Mexico tiangis are very common and popular. It is a street market that lasts one day (from the morning until it gets hot). In the larger ones you can find all kinds of things, just about anything you could imagine. It is the best place to buy fruits and vegetables and honestly most of the things you could need. It is also the best place to do any kind of trading.

Gabriel told us about his experience slowly aquiring all of the equipment, piece by piece. He started out with an old junky car stereo and a broken TV. And so the adventure began. He would go to the tiangis and go in search of people willing to make trades. He would change the stereo for a phone, and later the phone for something different. Occasionally the trades would get more interesting, throwing in several articles or even cash. But the trick, and the way it works, is always, always knowing exactly what each thing is worth. For Gabriel, it did not matter if the thing he got had any additional worth to him, what mattered is what it valued in cash or in comparison to the rest. Each trade he made, he worked his way up in value. One trade, for example, he gave a phone with television that had the screen half broken to an older man who spent much of his time waiting around for clients. In return he received several speakers and cash. To the man, the phone valued more because of its use, but in the transaction Gabriel said he gained nearly 100 dollars in value.

And so that is the process, making many trades and being very sharp so as to always progress in value. What started as a couple of broken and junky electronics, turned into a sound system that is easily worth $1,500 (and that is American dollars :) ). Not only that, but he now takes his system and rents it out at parties and earns money independently.

Gabriel turned 16 a couple months ago. He has learned, and has taught me, a crucial life principal. True value.

In the interactions of our daily lives we likewise make many trades and bargains. Occasionally we might trade our personal integrity for a better grade, for praise from a supervisor, or to please a friend or family members. Thinking in the moment (or perhaps in reality not thinking at all) that those small things are worth more that our personal integrity. But what is it we are trading? What is the true value of integrity?

In the system of the tiangis, when the trade is made, there is no going back. At the end of the day everything disappears, the tents go down, the vendors return to where they came from, and you can be almost sure that you will not find things the same again. No tradebacks.

And so it is with our integrity. When then trade is made, when we lose the confidence of our friends and family, the process to regain it is long and difficult. 

And so it is so important that before entering the market, before the moment arrives, we take the time to consider exactly what is the value of the things we posses. Personal Integrity, friendships, obedience, our virtue (surely the list goes on). What are we willing to trade? What is the true value of that which we are receiving?

Thought I would share that thought with you. I hope you are all doing great. The weather is really starting to heat up and it is time to make sure we are drinking plenty of liquids. Hope you all have a great week. Still love hearing from you any chance you get to write me.

With love,
Elder Brighton