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