Saturday, December 28, 2013

Dearest family and friends,

I had a great week, highlighted with the brief video call home. It was nice to see everyone again. Crazy to see how much Stacey, Alex, and Scott have all grown. Stacey especially since she is right in that age of a lot of growth. Hardly could believe how tall she is now. And was impressed by her great flexibility and gymnastics. It makes me really happy to see that she is doing something that she enjoys and is really good at. Sure do miss everyone! But I am doing well, aside from my receding hair line as noticed and immediately mentioned by everyone present in the phone calls... thanks guys. (I really do not think it is that bad and have faith that when the stress of the mission is over everything will thicken out again...)

For my part, I am doing quite well and enjoying being with Elder Umaña again. We have both changed a lot in the last year. But it was fun to pass the Christmas season together and think back on the similarities and differences of last year.

Take advantage of the time to go and visit as many people as we could. Singing a hymn or two and reading the Christmas story from Luke 2.

Having great experiences as we entered the houses of people who otherwise did not have visitors or family in the holiday season. Expressing our love and feeling it reciprocated.

Last year we had a bowl of cereal and milk for Christmas dinner. This year we were invited to eat with a family the evening of the 25th and enjoyed a tasty and warm meal.

Last year the phone call was pretty hectic with lots of people around and hard to hear. This year it was calm and went smoothly.

Last year I looked forward to another to be passed in the mission. This year I look forward to being with my own family for the next one.

A final thought from this week. After having offended a person it requires more than a simple “I´m sorry for what I said or did” for a change or improvement in the relationship to occur. Part of the repentance process, following the apology includes restoring the damage. That is almost always going to involve a conversation a little bit longer in order to express love, appreciation, and sincerity. Just like a small and simple slip of the tongue can ruin relationships and friendships, a small and simple (but sincere) expression of love can turn a negative experience into a positive one.

What does that mean? It means that if we apologize sincerely, mistakes that we make can actually be turned into opportunities to strengthen relationships. I have learned that that is true and can have real power.

Hope everyone has a great week, a good new year, and is able to take time to reflect on the goals and personal progress of the waning year and make positive and definite goals for the coming.

With love,
Elder Brighton

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Dearest family and friends,

Let me start of by sending a very Merry Christmas! I hope we can all pass this Holiday season happily recognizing that the bigger joy comes as we spend our effort giving and serving. 

It has been a crazy and satisfying week. There were definetely some nights without much sleep, lots of trips to the airport to pick up different groups of missionaries, and many hours spent traveling and training. It is hard to believe, looking back, that it all happened in just one week.

Yesterday after arriving from Tepic, Nayarit at about 8:30 pm, and after a long and honestly tiring week we were on a final local bus headed back to the offices. The bus was pretty empty, around 10 people there. We had been celebrating Christmas all week with the missionaries so I guess we had a pretty good Christmas spirit. I turned to my companion and said, "if you give a brief introduction, I will sing a Christmas song". He smiled and got up to ask permission from the driver and briefly explain that we were missionaries etc. 

Here on the busses it is quite common for people to get on and sell things. Ranging from chewing gums and candies, to workbooks for english, math, science, etc, to pictures, to relics, you name it. And lots of people get on to sing and ask for money as well. So getting up to sing a song is nothing novel in itself. 

I decided to sing "What Child is This", happy because I love the song. Anyone that rides the bus gets used really fast to ignoring and turning away from anyone selling, singing etc. So it was fun to see how at first everyone reacted, turning to stare out the window, pulling out a phone, putting in earphones. But as the song went on slowly the faces started to turn, conversations were paused, the phones were put down, and even the young man in the front discreetly pulled his earphones out. It is a beautiful song, a sweet rendition of the birth of our Savior in humble conditions to his mother Mary. The song concluded, I extended the invitation to all to remember the true spirit of Christmas in this special time of the year and passed the address and hour of our weekly services. A stop or two later we got off. But I certainly felt a nice, sweet, Christmas Spirit, or in other words, the Spirit of Christ.

This week there have been three of us as Elder Casas accompanied us to the different trainings.Monday he gets on the plane in time to be home with his family for Christmas. And Elder Umaña and I will be left to really get going. 

This week I had the great blessing of spending almost every day with President Wagner, his wife and daughter. Monday and Tuesday we trained the new missionaries together. WednesdayThursday andFriday we were together as we trained and celebrated Christmas with a simple program each day. In our travel time together we took advantage to discuss different things of interest, such as what the scriptures teach about the Second Coming of Christ, the importance of repentence, and some current challenges the world and society is facing. I am grateful for the time to spend with him.

Things are going great! I am looking forward to another wonderful week. I hope everyone has a great week and is able to spend their time with the people they love most.

Elder Brighton

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Dear family and friends,

Boy howdy this week sure has passed fast! Here are a few awesome hilights.

This week I went on divisions to visit my first area in Auditorio. What an incredible blessing!! Everything went great, right on down to the family we ate with. Luch was scheduled with the Ramos family, a family we worked a lot with and came to love a ton while I was there. She is currently serving as the relief society president and he is now the mission leader. (We ate hamburgers and I maintained my good reputation, eating 3 large ones against 2 by each of the other 3 Elders.) It is a family that the more you eat, the happier they are.

Also while there we had a few more significant and special experiences. Among them, two of the people that I spent a lot of time teaching are now going to be baptized, taking the decision to dedicate themselves to live the commandments of God in their fulness. One is the sister of one of our first converts, who was baptized December 1, 2012. She will be baptized today, December 14, 2013. The other person is the father of a young lady who left for a mission while I was there. We began teaching them, and he was just starting to soften his heart when I was changed. His wife had progressed well and will likewise soon be baptized. What a blessing to see their progress after all this time.

We were also able to meet with a faithful sister and her husband in the evening and share fish and vegetable soup and our testimonies. A great, simple moment.

So that is one super awesome thing in the week... but it does not end there. 

One of the families we are teaching has decided to be baptized the 28th of December. That means they will be confirmed on my birthday, the 29th. Great present, the very best of them all.

Also, this morning we were invited to the house of President and Sister Wagner so that my companion could take an English test. Great news.... he passed!!! While he took his test I got to sit and help make some paper snowflakes and converse with both the president and his wife. Always a blessing to be around people who are examples of a deep and lasting happiness reached by obedience and dedication.

While there, a companion that I had for 3 months but finished his mission 5 months ago came into town for a visit. It was great to see that he is doing well, has lost a lot of weight, and is happy. 

And the last news for the week. Tomorrow the new assistant will arrive to be my new companion. And it is going to be.... Elder Umaña!!! He was my second companion, the first person I trained. As a quick review, he is now 27, is a public accountant, graduated with a masters degree in his field of study, and is a great friend of mine now in the mission. I especially enjoyed being with him because while together we could both be 100% focused and dedicated to the great mission work we have been called to do. His maturity, dedication, testimony, knowledge, and ability to reason things out, as well as the great communication we developed in our time together will be a great blessing for me. He gets here tomorrow and I am looking forward to this next week together.

Here is a brief outline of what this next week will be like for me.

Sunday evening- last dinner with the generation of missionaries going home in the home of the Mission President
organize and communicate the companionship changes in the mission

Monday morning- leave the offices at 5 AM to get those missionaries to the airport in time for their early flights
Recieve 3 sister missionaries that get here early from the MTC in Mexico City
Train them
Recieve a new Elder arriving from Nicaragua
Return for the 3rd time in the night to recieve 10 sister missionaries and 1 Elder that are arriving from the MTC in Provo (they are going to be the first american sister missionaries in the mission)

Tuesday- train the rest of the new missionaries and get them to their areas

Wednesday- training with all the leader missionaries in Colima, Manzanilo, and the Cuidad Guzman. We will be driving out with the president and his family to Colima where we will meet wiht all of them for a training and afterwards a Christmas celebration

Thursday- same thing as Wednesday, but here in Guadalajara

Friday - same thing, but this time headed out to Tepic, to see them as well as the missionaries from Santiago and Vallarta

and that will get me back to next Saturday.

It is going to be a great week. We have a million logistics planned that we are praying will all work out smoothly. I am excited to have the chance to see all of the missionaries of the mission all within a period of 3 days. 

Anxiously engaged in this, the Lord´s work. 

Yours truly,
Elder Brighton

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Dear family and friends,

It has been another great and crazy week. This week I had the privledge of going back to the area in Vallarta where I was before. I had a great day working and visiting many of the good people that I had taught while there. It was so gratifying to see that several families that had been on the verge of progressing well when I was called to leave are now doing great and making significant changes in their lives. 

Then for the first time I was left in my area to work with another Elder that came from Nayarit. So it was interesting to make my way through the city to the different appointments and try not to get lost. It was a success and we had several significant teaching opportunities. 

The week just finished up with the baptism of a young girl who is the granddaughter of a member here. It was a nice, simple, spiritual service. 

Also as a funny note, last week I sent a quick message to Rice asking about the process to be readmitted and what all would be involved. Since I had put everything in order before leaving and had gotten official permission, I figured it would be pretty simple. I just laughed today when I printed off the 13 page application/questionaire/explication. Who knows when I will find the time to get that all done... but all is well. I am confident that everything will go well. 

I am doing GREAT! I am having powerful experiences as I raise my voice, strive to put a good example, and work side by side with so many of the great Elders here in the mission. It is worth noting that Tuesday of this last week was my first chance to train all of the zone leaders of the mission in a mission counsel. I felt suprisingly calm and it went really well. Through kindness, sincerity, and directness we are gaining the confidence of the leaders and of the mission. We are working for, praying for, and expecting miracles and great changes. I am so grateful to be both a humble witness and active participant of all that is happening.

Love you all and hope we can all wear ourselves out each day, happily dedicating our time to those things that matter most to us. Finding joy in our labours. 

With love,
Elder Brighton