Monday, June 2, 2014

Dearest family and friends,

A couple of scattered thoughts and brief experiences.

This week we were led to find a family very prepared to receive the message. Their oldest son was baptized just over a year ago and made big changes in his life. In fact, he has already sent of his papers to serve as a misisonary and is awaiting the response. But despite all that, his family had never had contact with the missionaries since he was no longer living in his home. And so this week as we walked by where they lived we were invited in and realized quickly just how prepared they were. In short, with one invitation they happily made arrangements and went to church for the first time. They enjoyed themselves and expressed their desire to keep attending. The most satisfying part is that the father is leading the effort and has a great desire to make changes in his life and help his other children improve as well.

This week we were also finally able to meet with a referral from the Stake President. He is a husband of a member and has been attending on and off for 15 years. In our meeting with him the spirit was strong and he committed to baptism. He will be baptized this Saturday and is well prepared for this sacred step. In getting to know him we found out that he has a degree in accounting and a PhD in law. He is the founder and director of a national magazine and the CEO of a consulting firm. As we met with him Sunday afternoon he invited us into his office to have the lesson there. It was not until we had almost finished that I took a moment to look at the plaques and recognitions covering the walls. And yet as we teach, he was very attent and asked many impressive questions. All about how to apply the things we were teaching in his own life. 

I am grateful for the chance I have had to serve the Lord. I know that I have truly been his authorized representative and have felt his guiding influence and divine protection time and time again.

I have a strong mix of emotions as the date approaches. Without doubt I am looking forward to being with my beloved family again and be able to share so much with them. I recognize how much of their help I will need, especially as I make the big adjustments. 

And as excited as I am to be together again with my family, I also feel a deep stirring in my heart when I think about the people here I have served and am serving and think that I will not be able to be there to help them and know the details and hardships of their lives. 

(Here I will insert a note. For everyone that I will see and be with soon, please be patient with me. I believe the sudden drop back into my home and culture will be equally drastic as it was when I arrived to Mexico. The difference being that I now know that it is unlikely I will ever return and be able to live as I have for the last two years. So if I look a little out of it for a while, just know that I will get around. And who knows, maybe it will not be as stark as I am thinking. But in any case, I thank you for your love, patience, and support).

And so with all the energy of our hearts we are going to give it another week of dedicated service. Thank you all for everything you have done.

All my love,
Elder Brighton

Monday, May 26, 2014

Dearest family and friends,

We have been blessed to have another excellent week. We are teaching a couple of different families that are progressing and yesterday we were able to put ourselves in touch again with someone we were afraid we would not see again. 

Last week I told a little about Alberto. As a quick update, he now has a full-time job, with fixed hours and a salary. That is something truly unimaginable looking at where he was literally just two weeks ago. He has been truly blessed, and so have we as we have seen his progress. He works on Sundays and so for the time being will not be able to attend church or progress in that way, but what he has accomplished thus far is of itself a miracle. 

Every day requires a true and renewed effort, but it is not hard when I get thinking about all those people waiting and wanting to know more. And so here we go, another week.

Lots of love,
Elder Brighton

Monday, May 19, 2014

Dear family and friends,

Though I do not hope to do it justice in a simple email correspondence, I would like to share a few details of a special experience we had this last week.

My companion and I have been praying a lot over the last weeks to find people prepared to receive the message of Christ and of repentance. During this time, we have begun teaching over 25 new people, many of which have taught me different lessons. I would like to share the story of one of them named Alberto.

Last Tuesday my companion and I were walking down one of the main streets in a neighborhood when a young man that passed called out to us as he passed saying, "Elders". Since most people refer to us as "hermanos" and not Elders, we decided to quickly reach out to him and talk to him before he passed by. We quickly realized he was not in all of his 5 senses because of the effects of drugs, but he happily said hello and said he wanted to talk to us in another occasion. He told us vaguely where he lived and continued on his way, somewhat oblivious to all around him. We did not think much of the experience.

When the night time came and it was time to plan, the young man came into our minds and we were going to be near where he had indicated. We made plans to go and visit him. The following morning when we arrived, he was there and waiting for us. Because of the potentially larger audience of this letter I will skip a lot of the details of that first visit. Suffice it to say that he had very strong drug addicitions that he had had for a long time. Because of those addictions, the rest of his life had been strongly affected, involving him in atrocities of all kinds. At one point in the lesson he lifted up his shirt and showed us the still red and recent strips and scabs on his back from the thrashings that were given him as well as many burn scars from other experiences with violent torturings he had gone through. He told us many other things.

As we shared the lesson of the restoration of the gospel, church, and priesthood authority, he asked for a priesthood blessing to overcome both his addictions as well as what he considered to be curses that had been placed on him by dark and wicked people he had associated himself with earlier in his life. As we placed our hands on his head and began to gave him that priesthood blessing there was a change in the room. Few times have I ever felt so guided as I spoke, and I do not remember a time when I felt more real the power and authority that we hold. When the words and the blessing came to a close, we shook his hand, gave him a hug, and promised to return the following day. Really unsure of what we would find and what could possibly be done there. Truthfully, I had never heard things so dark and horrible as I did in that lesson that day.

We returned the next day to be the witnesses to the beginning of a miracle. Alberto told us the day previously had been perhaps the best of his life. He began to explain why. (Again, I will not be able to relate all that he told us, just because of time). 

He said, Elders I have something to confess. When you left yesterday I went into the bathroom to shower and change, and all of a sudden from deep down inside and without my expecting I began to sob like a child. I have not cried since I can remember, but I could not stop. As it came out I felt like I was being cleansed. And instead of feeling bad, I felt a great peace come over me as I wept and wept.

He had mentioned the day before that because of his situation he had not had contact with his mother or family for years. That very same day after showering and dressing he went out to visit her. In that visit his mother cried as he explained the changes he had felt and his new desire and power to overcome. (Since that day it seems he has had daily contact with her again).

He told us how he had planned that way to lie in wait for the two people that had whipped him and cut him with a glass bottle a few days before, with plans to return all the damage he could. That same afternoon when he ran into one of the young men, he grabbed him by the arm to keep him from running and then looking him in the eyes forgave him and exlained that he no longer wanted to have any problems. He forgave the man while his back was still oozing from the beating he had taken at his hands.

When he returned to his home, he pilled everything he had in his home that he had robbed or stolen or obtained from other unrighteous ways. He took the pile to the huge cliff drop-off that is in front of his house and threw it all over the edge. He included some inappropriate magazines that he had. He did a cleansing of his house.

And in short, that night he was able to make huge progress in his drug addictions, as he spoke with those that participate with him and explain that he will no longer be involved. He said that the cravings that he had felt daily for years were simply non existant now and he did not have a desire to participate. Additionally, a friend of his had called him constantly that night asking where he was and how he was doing, looking out for him and offering support, something he had not ever done, and on the very same day and night that he had made that decision and received the blesssing. He recongized it as the hand of the Lord.

The story of Alberto is just beginning and it is certainly not over nor is it won yet. Since that first day we have seen him almost every day as we strengthen his commitment and desire to not just leave bad things, but also replace them with the commandments of God and a firm commitment to obey them. He has introduced us to his friend, and we are now teaching him, his wife, and his daughter.

The power of the Priesthood of God is real. It healed people through their faith in the times of Christ, and it continues to heal those that have faith today. I am a witness of its power working through me blessing the lives of others in drastic and unbelievable ways. I know God lives.

with love,
Elder Brighton

Monday, April 7, 2014

With so very much going on it can be really hard to narrow anything down and get it written out. Here are a couple of highlights of the week.

This week I ate a couple of pickled pig`s feet. I was thinking I might make it all the way through without doing it, but was given the opportunity and took advantage. They take the pig hoof, soak it in vinegar for some period of time and ... ready! I polished off the first one and went back for seconds. 

General conference was a great and uplifting experience. As always, all of my questions were answered in a very direct way. It does not stop surprising me how everytime they come right out and almost state my question and then the answer. Impressive.

My companion is coming along in his spanish. It is harder than I thought it would be, but I know things will work out. 

We are staying focused and working hard. Sometimes I am really tired, the accumulated fatigue of two years, but time and again I feel the renewing power of the Holy Ghost help to strengthen me. 

I know this gospel is true. I have a great desire to share it with all those that I love, both those here in Mexico, and most especially those I will be among soon in my home. 

Lots of love,
Elder Brighton

Monday, March 31, 2014

This week I was able to put everything in order for class registration and academic planning from Rice, so time ran out, but that is over now and I feel a whole lot better. 

Have a great week!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Family and friends, This is just a short note, be sure to continue on  to his letter from the 15th if you have not read it already.

We were given a few minutes to write and let our families know that all is well. Mostly for the new missionaries arriving. My new companion is Elder Smedley. When I went to pick them up in the airport I felt something pretty special in meeting him and it was confirmed when we were assigned to work together. His spanish is pretty basic, but we are going to work hard and get going fast. 

It is a weird sensation to be back in where I started. So far we have only been able to visit a couple of families, but all of them have greeted us with a lot of excitement and joy, so it makes me feel really special and loved as well. 

We have a lot of work ahead of us and we are going to need more faith than ever. I can see the potential, but the climb is steeper than ever. It is no easy path, but there is no looking back. I humbly ask for your prayers on both of our behalf.

Lots of love,
Elder Brighton

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Dearest family and friends,

This week was a great one and full of miracles. I would like to share just a couple of brief experiences. Yesterday I saw the hand of the Lord stronger and more uncovered than ever before. While working with Elder Bentall we were humbled and blessed by the Lord. During one day we had 5 separate occasions in which people contacted us and asked that we come and teach them and their families.

It began with the family of a less active member. We had invited them several times without much interest expressed. But yesterday was we said hello to them in passing they called us over and asked a couple of questions. After answering, the father of the family asked, “When will you come to talk with me and my family?” (first family).

As we walked to our next appointment, full of awe and gratitude, we were surprised to hear someone calling us from behind. A man approached and explained that he had been baptized in Salt Lake and had received the Aaronic priesthood there. He called us over and asked us to visit and teach his cousin. In talking with her she asked if we could come back the next day. We will be taking her to the chapel today to give a tour (second).

As we continued on our way, and within 15 minutes we were stopped by another young man. He was baptized in Mexico and pleaded that we visit him since he has not had contact with the church since arriving to Guadalajara. Surely there are others to teach in his home (third).

Our evening plans had fallen through, so we were on our way to visit a recent convert when someone honked their horn and pulled over. A sister from the ward asked if we could come to her home that evening to teach their family members, one of which is a recent convert. We agreed and made the arrangements. When we arrived later to the house only the sister was there and was still waiting on her brother and sister-in-law to arrive. She insisted that we pass, but we kindly declined and said we would be right back as soon as her brother arrived. As we turned back down the street, unsure of what to do, we heard someone call out. Dumbstruck we turned to the man and began a conversation. As he expressed his situation and his desire to learn tears nearly rolled down his cheeks. He said that that day he had felt particularly down and knew that God had sent us there at that moment to talk to him. (fourth)

The man told us where he lived (a couple blocks away) and said that right now he was just visiting some friends. Elder Bentall asked if they might be interested. They came out and we spoke to them as well. In short time we realized they had listened to missionaries before and already had copies of the Book of Mormon. They enthusiastically accepted an invitation to listen again, mentioning that the whole family would be interested (fifth).

Now almost overwhelmed, we returned to the home of the sister where her brother had now arrived and went in. Before starting she said, “Elders, when you left I started thinking about how you declined the invitation to come in. How wonderful it is to see such dedication and discipline. I think if we were all so obedient the world would be so different. Thank you for that example.” We then shared the experience we had just had, showing that when we are obedient God blesses us. Perhaps we could have entered and waited the 4 minutes that it took for her brother to arrive, but God had placed, positioned, and prepared the hearts of two families just 5 houses away to receive two obedient missionaries. Had we made the “harmless” decision to enter when we felt and knew we should not, we would have lost the blessing of finding those two families. (After a moment of silence where the Spirit testified of the truth, the good sister immediately, and without prompting, gave us the name of a dear friend she had wanted to invite for quite some time).

It was a beautiful experience, one I will never forget.  There were so many lessons learned.
I know this is the work of the Lord and that He is capable of doing it. He allows us to participate to witness His power. I am grateful I have been given the chance to be here. Miracles are occurring and will continue in this mission.

With that said, I have pretty big news. Monday I will be leaving the offices and heading back out. I have been assigned to train a new missionary. And we have been assigned to work in .... AUDITORIO. That is the area I spent the first year of my mission. President says he has not done this before but feels that we will be able to help a lot of people there. Several families to continue teaching and help to come back. I was somewhat overwhelmed to think about it all and am still a little nervous about everything. But it is going to be great and I know it will be an unforgettable time. 

So the conditions are set, everything is in place, and now it is time to both witness and take part in miracles. 

I am not sure how else to express myself, but I am truly grateful for the chance I am being given. I dedicate myself to this cause. During the course of my mission all of my dreams and hopes have come true. Who could have ever imagined? It is truly unbelievable.

I love you all and testify that I know this is the work of God. This is His Kingdom on earth. All are welcome and invited. 

Elder Brighton

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Dearest family and friends,

Wishing you all a very happy Valentine´s day! I would like to share a special experience that I had yesterday on the 14th of February.

Our day went really well and we were able to visit several families and teach many people during the day. As the day progressed more and more flowers, balloons and chocolates were seen in the hands of many people headed towards their homes and their loved ones. It was not too suprising that the last couple of appointments of the day were cancelled or were not there when we arrived. It was afterall, an evening to be spent with close family members and loved ones. 

And so after a couple more failed attempts to find people in their homes, we were walking along the street wondering what to do with our last 30 or 40 minutes before we needed to head home for the night. As we passed by an apartment building, I remembered having visited an older couple that lived there several months ago and it was not until that moment that I remembered where they lived. Still unsure of exactly what building, floor, and door it was, I looked over and up, and sure enough, througth the window of the second story room I was able to make out a couple of distinctive figures that assured me that I was looking at the correct apartment. I commented my idea to my companion and we headed up the stairs.

We knocked on the door and heard a quiet voice answer telling us to wait as she looked for the keys and opened the door. After a little while the door finally opened and there was an older lady (in her mid to late 70s). She welcomed us into her small apartment room and I recognized the place from a very brief visit that we had had over 4 months ago. The small one bedroom apartment was stocked full of furniture all piled up into one corner, taking up almost all of the room. Other than those large articles, the rest was neat and tidy. Ramona, the older lady, asked us to sit down and we started to talk a little and see how she was doing. She immediately began to tell us about her husband and how he had been sick. She told us about their several trips to the hospital for various reasons. She told us his birthday was coming up and that he would be turning 89 soon. 

We sat and listened as this tiny, frail, passionate lady told us all about the declining health of her husband and how it had been hard for him to lose some of his functioning. She told us that since he had lost all the strength in his legs and feet he can no longer walk to the restroom and has to use diapers instead that she carefully changes every time it is necessary. She told us how sometimes if she is not paying attention he will try to get up and go to the bathroom, how his feet and ankles cannot hold him and he falls to the ground. Last week, she said, she had to go outside and look frantically for anyone passing by to come and help her pick him up since she is so small and weak herself. (It was very incredibly moving to imagine that scene and the distress and worry of the dear little lady). 

She spoke lovingly of how big and strong her husband had always been and pointed to a photo on the wall of when he was about 25 or 30. She said he had lost a lot of weight and was not very skinny. She laughed as she told us that his hearing is starting to fade and so sometimes she has to talk really loud. She said that the day before as she was talking to him he replied "you´re not my mom, you don´t have to yell at me". 

When we asked what we could do to help she led us into the little bedroom where her husband was seated in his bed eating a little dinner she had prepared. Though now very old and weathered, he said hello and shook our hands. Ramona pointed to a little shelf nailed to the wall and told us how it was in the way and she was worried he would hit his head on it if he fell out of bed. She gave us a pair of plier and we ripped the nails out of the wall and took the shelf down. The both of them were very happy for the little adjustment made in the small room.

We talked for a little more, shared a thought, and sang a sweet hymn that spoke of the power of prayer. Ramona expressed her profound gratitude for our visit, but as we left both my companion and I knew who had been more impacted and blessed from those brief 30 minutes.

Though there were no roses, decorations, or candles, I very much doubt that there was a home in the city where a greater love was expressed on that humble Valentine´s day than in the home of Ramona. 

I hope that you all had a sweet valentine´s day and that we remember the power and profundity of a true love. We were blessed to see someone in a very hard and difficult sitation, worn and tired with the years and experiences of life, left to care for and love someone in an even more difficult situation. I know that God loves us. And I know that God has also provided a way so that the bonds of love that we develop in this life with our spouse and family never end. Marriage and family can last forever.

I love you all,
Elder Brighton 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

My dear ones,

Another great week. Super busy as always without a lot of time to breathe, but getting a lot done and seeing really positive things happen. 

One special experience this week was seeing a family we taught and baptized one month ago prepare themselves and enter the temple to do baptisms. It was a goal we had set with them and with the mission president as a sort of pilot program to see if it was possible. They did it! Interviews, family history work, priesthood, everthing came together really well and this last Friday they entered as a couple and were able to take the names of 5 different family members. It was a really special experience for them and we will be presenting the case to the whole mission on Tuesday in the mission council. 

These next four weeks are going to be crazy! Aside from the two conferences we have this week (one of which is with the Guadalajara East mission as well) we now have 12 different visits to make. Manzanillo, 2 in Colima, Cuidad Guzman, 2 in Lomas Guadalajara, 1 here close by, 1 in Independencia Zapopan (where I was for the first year of my mission), Santiago, Tepic, and 2 in Puerto Vallarta. That is a lot of traveling!!!

Besides that, we are working right now with a young man named Fernando. He is in a really critical point in his life where he will either make the decision to keep studying, or drop out and start working. He is 13. His friends and influences are pulling him to the street scene, his parents are worried and pressuring him a lot, making him really confused and more likely to pull away from them and rebel. He is smart and a good kid. But since the financial situation is really difficult it is hard for him to attend school and be able to do all of the assignements they give him since it requires buying materials etc. This week we were able to gain the confidence of his mother as she recongized we are there to help him. We are working to instill hope and patience in her so that she can support her son to continue studying. His father is a less active member and also wants what is best for him. It has been great to teach Fernando and see how he opens up and expresses his concerns and conclusions. We have a lot of hope for him and are going to continue to encourage him to study and to avoid the bad influences all around him.

I also got the tender mercy to be able to give service this week. The kind that I really like that we did a ton of in my first area. We helped to move a bunch of concrete blocks from the ground level up on top of a roof. One by one tossing them. I worked on the bottom, throwing them up. I love that satsifying feeling of getting a hard job done and knowing it would have been near impossible for the single mother to do it herself. My hands got pretty torn up in the process, those concrete bricks are pretty sharp and heavy. Sure is great to be able to aliviate a little bit the hardships and burdens of others.

Well, another week flew by, and before I know it I will be here writing again.

Hope everyone is great and making progress in all that they do.

Los of love,
Elder Brighton

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Dearest family and friends,

I wanted to share a few thougths about what I have been learning and experiencing being with Elder Umaña. Even the first time we were together we got along really well and learned to communicate and respect each other. What a huge blessing it is to feel supported at all times. 

As a missionary we are always with our companion. Always. Sometimes that is great, and sometimes it can be hard. You definitely do not suffer from lonliness (in that sense), although sometimes all you want is a little privacy. That is a general comment from my experiences and talking and counseling with lots of other missionaries. But when both companions decide to contribute to the relationship, it can be a great support. Here are a few examples. 

Today after shopping we had to clean the house and make lunch. Elder Umaña took control of the stove and I grabbed the broom and mop. Within an hour the house was spotless and the food was ready to go. We had an incredible lunch of mixed onions, bell pepper, tomato, cheese, a piece of meat, macaroni and cheese, and a blended drink of milk, banana, spinach, and who knows what else he threw in there. It was delicious. And both having eaten, the house being cleaned and shiny, we both had time to write a few letters.

Elder Umaña has learned that he loves music, even though when he arrived he had never sung or played much of anything in his life. Since we have been together he has asked me to teach him how to read notes, how to sing better, how to play the piano. And he has loved it so much that he now plays the guitar and has written a few of his old songs. How cool is that!! And remember that he is a public accountant that spent all his days behind a desk without a whole lot of creativity. 

And he has been teaching me how to use excel more and more effectively. And besides that a lot of other things like formality in the spanish language, opening the mind to other cultures, hard to explain, but lots of really neat things. 

When I make mistakes he does not take advantage of it to make himself feel better or more important. Instead he recognizes that I really was doing my best and that I really did think that was the best thing to do. It is something we both do. And so we are starting to see really positive things happening. The attitude of many Elders is improving, their desire to work better and treat everyone well is improving. 

And with so many new missionaries arriving, Monday we will be opening 3 new zones in the mission. There will now be a total of 12 zones. That means instead of traveling 9 times every six weeks, we will have 12 visits to make. Wow!! That is a lot to fit into so few days! But we will make it work.

My mind is a little jumbled today with so many things going on, but I am doing great, learning lots, being stretched and stretched. Sometimes I think I can feel my brain tissue pushing the inside of my cranium with so many different things running around.

Well there is my attempt at a congruent weekly report. I hope everyone is doing great, looking for ways to serve in real and meanigful ways (the most meaningful service will always require a sacrifice on our part) and loving life!

Lots of love,
Elder Brighton

PS For the first time in long time we got to go and do some real work this week. An only mother is going to be building a little room to stay in above her mother´s house. So we went with her to load up some bricks that someone had donated to her. It felt great to toss those big concrete bricks again. Elder Umaña and I made a two man throwing chain, tossing them one by one from the ground up into the big truck, and then later from the truck and piling them back up in front of the house. The back was a little sore the next day, but man, it sure felt good!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Family and friends,

Wow! Another week, can you believe it?

First I want to share a really great experience. This week has been full of all kinds of different things and movements. We had the chance to meet with and teach lots of less active families, but the whole week we had been unable to teach any investigator. Yesterday night arrived and I felt a little sad that we had not had any lessons with investigators. As we looked at the schedule for today (Saturday) it was clear we were not going to have any time either. But we decided to put the goal of one lesson anyways. 

This morning we had the assignment from the Bishop to go and fill up the baptismal font for a service they would have at midday. So we went up a little before 9 am, cleaned up the font and rooms, and were filing it up when a man from maintanance walked in and asked if we were busy. A group of four university students had come to learn more about the church for a project. We had the great opportunity to sit down with them for a little over an hour and share the message of the restoration. It was a powerful and moving lesson. I think they got a whole lot more than what they were expecting. Since there was a member there working in the family history center and she was able to share her testimony and invite them to come back to use the free services there we were blessed with a lesson with member present. I am so grateful that the Lord is aware of the wants, needs, and goals of all of his humble children. It was a special experience for me to see that our simple act of faith in asking for the chance to teach one lesson was answered.

(Sometimes I think back on when Elder Umaña and I were together the first time and had 25-30 lessons every week. Times change, and responsablities as well. But this next week we will be in our area the whole week, so we have high expectations!)

Transfers are in one week and so it is a busy time for us getting ready to send off a group of missionaries as well as receive a good sized group as well. There are 9 more missionaries getting here than the ones that are leaving, and so that means we are going to open up at least 4 areas. Houses, furniture, appliances, rent, transportation, ... so many learning experiences. 

I am doing great. Time is flying, the nights are never long enough but I have a pretty good and constant exercise routine in the morning, so that is keeping the motor running!

with lots of love,
Elder Brighton

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Dear family and friends,

It has been a while since I have taken a decent amount of time to write, so I want to do that today. See where I am at. It is funny how in the moment that I sit down to write this it is the time I take to reflect as well. It is so good and healthy to do that I think. Some of the biggest lessons we can only learn and recognize looking back.

Anyways, so a couple of funny comments to begin.

Today I did something I had never done before. To open the package I received from my family (thanks a bunch!) I did not feel like looking for scissors or a knife, so I used my pen. Something went wrong and I managed to stick it into my thumb pretty good. I just laughed, cleaned it up a bit, and proceeded to use the pen to finish opening the package. I had never drawn blood with a BIC pen before.

On divisions with some other Elders my companion saw that they had some of those little hand exercising grip things. He liked it a lot, so we bought a pair and have been using them the last couple days. I think we will have the most firm handshakes in the whole mission after another couple of weeks.

On a bus this morning we passed by a scene that looked a little funny. There was a car pulled over and surrounded by over 7 huge police trucks with lots of police running around. I figured it would be a pretty ugly scene, but when we passed by on the bus I looked over and just saw a young lady with her little baby in her arms. There was no one else around and so it just looked a little funny to see the young woman and baby surrounded by about 20 policemen. I am sure it was a situation a little more serious, but it did not seem to fit.

On a more serious note, it was a great week. We were able to work almost every day in our own area visiting and getting to know the people here. There is a lot to get done and much good to be done. In visiting different families and people we listened to several heartbreaking stories and histories. It certainly makes me want to be a simple, honest, and loving man and father. So much of the hardship and sadness could be avoided if that were always the case.

In a visit to Puerto Vallarta last week I had a really special experience with the Elders working there (taken from my journal).

"Estabamos enseñando una referencia de la Presidencia de Estaca. 

Es un hermano mayor de edad con dificultades de escuchar y

ver bien, pero muy deseoso de aprender. En una de las 

primeras lecciones tuvimos la oportunidad de enseñar como

comunicarnos con nuestro Padre mediante la oración.

Apuntamos los pasos de la oración en letra muy grande y casi 

tuvimos que gritar para que él nos pudiera entender. Después 

de varios intentos en los cuales simplemente leyó los pasos sin 

expresar sus propios sentimientos pasó un momento muy 

especial. Este hermano de mas que 70 años se dio cuenta de lo 

que es una oración. Quizá fue la primera vez en su vida que 

habló con su Padre y pidió por sus propias necesidades. Fue 

sencillo y muy breve, pero el Espíritu Santo se manifestó. Que 

privilegio es ayudar a las personas a conocer a Dios, su 

Amoroso Padre y a Su Hijo Jesucristo."

I pasted that and then realized that it was in Spanish and I should probably translate it. So here is the translation.

"We were teaching a referral from the Stake Presidency. He is an older man with hearing problems and does not see well, but with a great desire to learn. In one of the first lessons we had the chance to teach how to communicate with our Father by prayer. We wrote down the basic steps of a prayer in very big letters and almost had to yell so that he could understand us. After several trys where he would just read the steps without expressing his own feelings something really special happened. This brother, more than 70 years old, realized what a prayer is. Perhaps for the first time in his life he spoke with his father and asked for his own needs. It was very simple and brief, but the Holy Ghost manifest itself (in a very soft and sweet way). What a priveledge it is to help people to come to know God, their loving Father, and his son Jesus Christ."

Life is great. 

To finish up I want to share something that just came to my mind. Something we said every day as 3rd graders in Mrs. Huitt´s class (if I remember correctly).

Good. Better. Best. Never let it rest, ´til your good is better, and your better is best.

Have a great week!

Elder Brighton

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Dearest family and friends,

As usual, no day is ever normal and so I wanted to write super fast to let everyone know that I am doing well and learning a lot.

This week was really crazy with the mission council and then divisions to the areas farthest away. It all went well and we are getting a good vision and handle for the current state of the mission and the attitude of the missionaries. 

I am loving being with Elder Umaña again. We have really good communication and that makes for much less stress. There is no feeling of competition. 

In short, life is great when you are a missionary preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.

with love,
Elder Brighton

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Today was a busy day, and it is going to be a very busy weekend getting ready for the Mission Council this Tuesday. We have quite a few reports to put together and a lot of information to process.

Attached is a photo from the baptism that we had this evening. We just got back from the service. Alejandro and Dulce are two very special people and I am looking forward to staying in contact with them for a very long time. They quickly became comfortable with the ward and the members. The Bishop baptized them tonight. The service was great. It was so full we had to go to the chapel because we did not fit in the baptismal room. Many families from the ward attended along with the Bishop, the Stake President, and the Mission President. So it was a special night for all of us.

Love you all and hope it was an excellent week for everyone. Take care and enjoy these new and fresh days of this year.

With love,
Elder Brighton