Monday, February 28, 2011

Well, Well, Well....

Hmm. This week is now a big blur in my brain. I really hope I can remember some highlights...

We had a great evening on Tuesday in our area, We had dinner with the Seipp family, and they are wonderful. Sister Seipp is the classiest lady and she always gives me tips and we have "beauty" talk. I love it. She has some fashion magazines from the olden days and I love looking at them. And then of course we have spiritual talk too :) They are so fun. Then we had a family home evening with our Part member family... The dad is still not super interested in learning more and taking the lessons... He is definitely inching toward it though! Pray for him. His family needs to have their Dad have the Priesthood so badly. It would just bless them in so many ways!

Thursday we had Zone Conference and it was AMAZING. President talked a lot about obedience and how important it is to be obedient. Sis Baker (president's wife) talked about the Law of Chastity and a talk (one of my favorites) by Jeffrey R. Holland called "Of souls sacraments and symbols" (or something like that... can't remember). It was a REALLY powerful talk. The law of Chastity is a huge problem here in LA among our investigators... she talked about it in such a way as to note the beautiful importance and responsibility of creating life. It was really neat. Semi-awkward at times being in a room with a bunch of 19-20 year old missionaries, but nonetheless really great. We had a lot of training about getting along with our companions and the importance of that, the importance of member-missionary work and asking for referralls, and faith.

Oh that word...

FAITH. What IS faith, anyway, right?! And HOW can I have MORE of it so that these people who I love and care about so dearly will do the things that I know will bring them happiness. The thing about faith that is difficult is that it can't REALLY be measured. It's not like I can just check off "had faith" on my daily goal checklist (thanks Johnny!) because how do I know if I really had it? If I would have had it would that person have not slammed the door? If I would have had it would I have received more referrals at the visitors center? The Lord always tries our faith that it might be strengthened. So here is my faith-building story for the week.

Lois Barry. Is. Impossible. To. Get. A. Hold. Of. You might not remember Lois barry but Sis Browning and I ran into her on the street and she was VERY interested in learning more. She cancelled 2 appointments and then we kept trying to call her and she never ever answered. But for some reason I kept feeling like I should try to call her everyday. SO I have done that, rather obnoxiously to be honest, and dialed her number every day to get an answering machine. SO was my acting on that prompting showing my faith in that prompting to call her? Maybe. It was also discouraging to call everyday with no answer. I became rather Jaded and would just WAIT for the machine. Now THAT is NOT faith.... Anyways. So I called and called for about 5 weeks now. On Friday night it was POURING rain. And I HATE walking in the rain. So I was just mad. But we were trying to find all of these people who were once interested in the church. We contacted a referral and the other sisters who apparently thought he was interested must have been very confused (or maybe faithful) because he did NOT want to talk to us. Sad. Anyways so our 3 back-up plan was to try to break into Lois Barry's apt complex. An IMPOSSIBLE feat, let me tell you. To even get into the stairwell you have to have a key. And the elevators. And no call box... Ridiculous. So I was really not excited about trying to get in because I had ZERO faith. There was an elevator at one end and the stairwell at the other. So we waited by the elevator for someone to come, and then someone went to the stairs. So we went to the stairs and then once we were there someone went and used their key to get on the elevator. At this point, I'm ready to go because I thought we were wasting our time and I was REALLY bugged with Sis Cass for not agreeing with me. (im very prideful). So we split up and I stayed at the elevator while sis Cass waited by the stairs. I had no faith. But luckily my trusty companion did. I said a little prayer and said "Heavenly Father if you want us to see Lois Barry (part of me really wanted to see her so I could tell Sis Browning that she was black. Because when we tracted into her it was dark and she had a hat on and when someone asked us to describe her, I said she was black and sis browning said "No shes not! She is WHITE!" SO part of my desire to see her was a vendetta. P.S. She is black. Well she has black heritage, but she's lighter skinned... BUT still black.)  So we waited in the garage until someone came to the door to go inside, he looked at Sis Cass and said "you look suspicious" but he let us in! So I ran over to her and we took the stairs up to Lois' apartment. And she was HOME! And we set 2 appointments for this week! And I need to have FAITH that those appointments will be wonderful and that they will really happen. Lois even said to me "I am so glad you kept calling and didn't forget about me... Everytime I heard a voice message from you it warmed my heart." What a testimony that the Spirit really does prompt us to do even seemingly-silly things sometimes. Her husband is recovering from a heart transplant so she has been in-communicado for a while. She is so cool. And definitely black.

Sis Hurst. Oh Sister Hurst. She is a less- active in our ward who just has had a lot of problems. She called us friday morning and said "Sisters I need help. I can't quit smoking and I don't know what to do. I am a total mess..." So I studied the Word of Wisdom at the Visitors Center on and off all day... just trying to understand it more and how to follow it more.... I got some good insight about taking care of our bodies and why we even have the Word of Wisdom. Sis Cass and I decided to give up something too. So I am continuing on my no sugar and sis cass gave up chocolate. Sis Cass knew about this cure-all for cigarrette addictions where you empty the nicotine into a cup of milk and boil it, strain, and then have them drink it. It apparently makes them so sick that they never want to even look at another "ciggy" (as Sis Hurst calls them). Sis Hurst drank it (after we stomped on her ciggy's... sounds funner than it really is... nothign really happens when you stomp on them haha.) and it really did have a huge effect. She was like "Ohoooohhohoh thisis baaaaaaaddddd.... I neeever want to smookkkeee aggaaaainnnn!" And it's worked thus far. She has 2 daughters who HATED that she smoked... it will be a huge blessing if they can see their Mom overcome something like that. Moral of the story: Don't smoke. It's just gross.

On Saturday we got to have 2 mini-missionaries again. So much fun. I had Clara Johnson and she was awesome. We had an interesting experience while door-knocking where a guy talked to us about Extra Terrestrials and UFO's for about 15 minutes... (watch out, they are coming by the way) but we were able to at least testify and tie his rambling to a Gospel Principle. And then we actually had another follow-up lesson with the Hursts and the oldest daughter who REALLY struggles came in and even turned off watching Keeping up with the Kardashian's to listen to the lesson (very unlike her... miracle!) and it was really neat to see her be effected by these 2 girls about her same age, testify abouit prayer. The Hursts committed to pray together, even the eldest, Hayley. Such a neat experience.

Yesterday at the VC I got to talk to a Priest from a Christian Orhtodox church in Orange County. Father Paul was very genuine and we had a great conversation (he even helped me try to figure out how to stop my biting around my nails... being that I had bandaids on my fingers I thought I should tell him why... and then he told me he used to do the same thing. Haha. The things I share with people...) and it was neat to get to show him pictures of the temple and talk to him about it. Especially because I am reading the Old Testament and have learned a ton about the history of temples and things so I was able to relate that to him and we had a nice discussion. He was black robed, gold cross around his neck and all. Kind of intimidating at first, but then just an amazing, faithful man. He came from Egypt and is just really great.

Well thats all I have for the week. The Young Ambassadors are performing this morning at the VC so I am excited to see them... Should be fun!!! 

I love this Gospel with all of my heart and I love the Lord. I love learning how I can be more like him and I love his tender mercies when I fall short.

Love and miss you all!!
Sista Brink

Monday, February 21, 2011

I have a new companion! Her name is Sister LeeAnn Cass and she is from American Fork UT.

This is actually her last transfer so I am brainstorming  how I am going to kill her (mission lingo... when someone goes home, they "die" and their companion is the "killer"... Kinda stupid, I know... the things that entertain missionaries...). We get along really great. She was one of the first friends I made at the VC and then she left the VC for 2 transfers so it was kind of a shocker to find out she was coming back. She is just a little sassy gal with really short pixie hair (yes, I covet it and miss my old hair. BUT my hair is almost to my shoulders... longest it's been for a while!). She is a pastry chef, BUT her companion is off sugar so that won't come into much practice... except that we have people to take treats too :) Sometimes we bribe investigators with treats. Works everytime to get into their house for a lesson!

This week was great. Kinda crazy with transfers but stilll great. Sister Cass joined me in Santa Monica so I am officially the one in charge because I am supposed to know the area. You'd think I would after being here for 3 transfers but I still have to look at the map (GPS system anyone?) but I guess that's good for me to understand how to actually read a map. Ok I'm making myself look stupid, I am doing quite all right telling us how to get to and fro. It was fun to introduce our ward to Sassy Cassy and they all  welcomed her, of course. Have I mentioned how wonderful the Santa Monica 1st ward is?

 Speaking of church. It was such a treat to be sitting in the chapel and to hear that my dear friend and fellow ex-young ambassador Taylor Eliason would be singing!
Hello, Taylor!
 I thought his head looked familiar from behind! He did a fantastic job with Steven Nielson on the piano. Turns out Steven's Grandparents serve in my ward (the McBrides' they are WONDERFUL) as the Institute directors in Santa Monica. The spirit was so strong and I was so proud to know Taylor and it was fun to see him even though I wanted to give him a squeeze.

ANd THEN Jason Klingler and Freeman came into the VC and I wanted to give them a squeeze too! BUT I refrained, don't worry. Some sisters had told me that I had some friends stop by and that they would be back during my shift... When they told me it was a tall, skinny guy from Springville I was  SO excited that I would get to see my dear friend Jason! And then such a surprise that Jason Klingler was there too! Apparently he goes by Kevin now (Thank to Sean Kent... I miss you guys) but he is still the same sweety that was Jason to me. Anyways, so fun to see them and I am so lucky to have great  friends.
Jason and Jason!

They got to meet RWLJ cause he was at the VC which was fun too. I'm glad they got to experience how amazing my little RWLJ is!

The RWLJ quote for the week might be the best yet. So we are watching Legacy and if you haven't seen this movie, it's definitely one of the more "romantic" movies in the church. There are FOUR kisses, and lots of lovey dovies. SO Eliza and her husband are walking down the trail, and next thing we know Eliza is pregnant. So sister Cass says in a rhetorical manner, "HOW does she get PREGNANT on the TRAIL?!?!" I knew that a response was coming from Robert... He waited a second... and then said, very simply, "Probably the same way they get pregnant OFF the trail... and I think they knew how!"HAHAHAHAHAH. We were laughing SO hard. It was quite wonderful. And then Robert got a hold of some videos of me singing in a showstopping way" (RWLJ quote) and he could hardly contain himself when he called that night. He said "Sister Brinkerhoff. you've got REAL talent! I mean, I always thought you were just a prety singer, but BOY did you blow my socks off! And if you give a concert, BYE NELLY You're gonna see me there!" Oh I hope I do
someday. I hope I do.

We had another lesson with Eddie and Brother Webb was there again also. Eddie is so great. He really is searching for peace, but he hasn't been keeping his commitments by reading and praying, so he isn't really noticing a difference. Pray for him! He needs the Gospel so very much. He is such a good man. Our .lesson with him was really spiritually packed, and Bro Webb bore such an amazing testimony, and tears really were in my eyes as I looked at Eddie who wants so badly to see his son again. It's just an ugly situation... He needs the Gospel SOOOOO bad.We have been contacting a lot of Less Actives... It's really interesting to hear why some people leave the church. We have really gotten to be friends with one in our ward who seems to want to come back! How amazing is it that the Lord knows who we need to go see and he helps us along the way. The Lord will help us in every aspect of our lives if we will but just head his counsel

I had a sweet experience yesterday with a brother who I have become really great friends with from his few visits at the VC. His name is Allen Lunt. His wife died last year, and he is a sealer in the LA temple. When he comes in he says "Oh Sister Brinkerhoff I just want to give you a hug!" And I feel the same. He is just the sweetest man and I am so glad he is my friend. Yesterday he brought in his temple prep class from his ward and we had such a lovely time together. Brother Lunt bore testimony over and over again and always with tears in his eyes. He truly is a man who is close to the spirit. These sweet people who are preparing to go to the temple were so emotional during a movie about the family being together forever. How wonderful is this gift of the plan of salvation that we have! And I know that I have taken it for granted for so long and not really looked at the true blessing it is to have the temple. After seeing these people doing everything they can to get to the temple so that they can do the work for their family members, I have decided that I will never take it for granted again. I hope I always attend the temple.

Well I think that is all I have for the week. It's almost March! Let's find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow (see attached pciture... yep, this is my land :)
Somewhere over the rainbow...

 I love you all, thank you for your support, prayers, friendship and love!

Sista Brink
Last Lesson with Sis. Browning and Robert
Saying Goodbye to some Sisters :(

Me and Sis woods.... a lady in our ward that we teach... she is just slowly dying of an awful disease. She has NO bone anymore hardly and it's all chipped in her feet. So awful. We love her.

Remember when I told you about Sis Bolton and the dolls? Here they are. I wasn't lying.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I Love, Love, I Love Being in Love

Sometimes I miss my music (my subject line is a song by the Format if you didn't know....) BUT I AM in love with missionary work. (Cliche, I know... but... I am... so get off it...)

This week was pretty wonderful. In 2 days I start transfer #4 and it's about time because this transfer was waaaaay slow, but I am excited for a new one. Sis Browning and I both have a feeling that she is leaving me, but we will just have to see. I'm honestly OK with whatever happens. Anyways... So this week...

We had a lesson with Eddie on Tuesday night and our amazing ward mission leader, brother Webb, came. Eddie is just such a nice, down- to- earth guy who happens to have been in a gang for 15 years and has tattoos all over his body. But honestly, he is one of the nicest guys I've ever met. And he wants to know God and he wants to help people. He's really cool. We talked about how the Book of Mormon will help him in his life... His insight about his religious beliefs were really helpful in understanding him a bit more. We introduced baptism, but we had to leave so hopefully we will be able to invite him to be baptized this week. He was really interested to know what we believed baptism was.

There is nothing like talking to a polish woman for 5 minutes and then realizing that she is saying nothing but the F word.... but then her agreeing to us coming back. Nice, right?!

Bad experience with a Lithuanian... I'll have to explain in person one of these days.... Let's just say, lithuanians DONT like when people speak Russian to them... (I should know that, I know... but it was worth a shot.)

We had a mini mission on Saturday which was so much fun! If you don't know, a mini mission is where the youth in a stake all go on "splits" with the missionaries and experience real missionary life for a day. I had Sister Hazel Fakava as my companion and we had such a great experience. 
 We tried to go see the Polish lady (probably a good thing she wan't there so that my poor little companion wouldn't be scarred. I was even a little scarred and I've heard a lot of bad language haha), and then we went to go see a less active named Gary. We walked to Gary's house, talking to a few people on the way and after every person we talked to  Sis Fakava said "That was so awesome! Ahg this is sooo cool!" and it made me realize how cool it really is to be able to bear testimony all day about the restoration of the gospel. Nothing like a 15 year old girl smacking me back in check, right? Anyways. We got to Gary's and he was playing the piano inside... So we knocked like 4 times but he didn't come to the door. In those situations, it's ALWAYS such a huge temptation to just say "Well we better not interrupt him,..." But I couldn't bear the thought of letting my cute companion think that that was ok to do so I said that we should say a prayer that he would hear the knock and come to the door. You guessed it, prayer works. We knocked again and then came smiling, friendly and tender-hearted Gary to the door. We got to talk to him for a while... It was really neat. He seems to have had a pretty rough time, though we didn't go into detail. We are hopefully going to go back and see him this week though. Sis Fakava was SO excited about the prayer working. I guess I had lost a bit of faith and she helped me restore it. Thanks my little Sissy!

Robert was ordained into the Priesthood yesterday! It was really sweet. It was actually a great meeting altogether. In Sacrament, the topic was Worship through Music and the talks were fantastic. I sang "Savior Redeemer" which is always a joy. My testimony really is wrapped up in that song and I loved looking out at my ward and seeing all of these faces of people who have truly touched my life in many ways. Such an opportunity and blessing to serve in this ward. Elder Macdonald (our VC director who has really taken RWLJ under his wing) performed the ordination. He is such a tender man and is very sensitive to the spirit. As he teared and choked up during the blessing, I realized that THIS is what Alma is talking about when he says that our joy would be full if we were to save but one soul. (Alma 29:9) I am so grateful to have been able to be a part of the Webster Legacy! (That's what RWLJ always says..."You had a hand in my conversion, sister Brinkerhoff, so you are a part of the Webster Light legacy!") I could die a happy camper knowing that I am a part of the Robert Webster Light Jr legacy. Nothing in my life will have such a meaningful effect :)

Last night at the VC, a group called "A Chosen Generation" from Orem UT came and performed. I knew a few of the kids from Young Ambassador camp and it was such a joy to be able to see them up there, singing their hearts out for what they believe. I felt like a proud parent. The youth of the world really are the strength of the earth! We need them and need to help them understand WHO THEY ARE! There is one girl in our ward who we try to work with and she just has no idea who she is because of the things she continues to be involved with. It is heartbreaking, truly. How can we help the youth understand that they are truly children of God? I am grateful that my Mom tried so hard to help me understand that... even still, it was hard to really believe it, but with someone constantly saying "I wish you could see yourself the way Christ sees you" it made things a lot easier. Thanks Mom.

Well I believe that is all for my stories this week. Pray for Eddie... He needs the Gospel!!! I am so happy to be a missionary and so grateful for this opportunity I have to serve. I wouldn't be anywhere else at this time and I know that the Lord is so very mindful of every single one of us, his children, and he only desires that we come home to him.

I love you all!
Sister Brinkerhoff

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Too Bad Ridge Doesn't Get to Meet Me for Another Year....

...Except that, lets be honest, I don't really like babies anyways until they are like 2. So I usually hold them a few times but then say "I'm bored. Take them away." BUT I DO have a new nephew, Ridge Tyler Maxson. Which I think is adorable, good choice Sis. I didn't even know Ridge was an option. I'm so glad you didn't take away my top pick for a name of "Oscar" (true story. Don't judge. I will have a son named oscar. And he'll be way cuter than any other boy in the world.) BUT I am very proud and happy to be another aunt to another awesome nephew. I always am so happy when people ask my about my family because I LOVE talking about how I have the best familia en el mundo! And it just keeps growing. So great. Welcome to the fam, Ridge! Talk to me when your 4.

Well it was just another great week here in Santa Monica! We set some new goals for finding and we actually got 3 new investigators. We have yet to meet with any of them because they are flaking, BUT at least we got to meet some goals for the week. We did meet a guy named Eddie who we had a semi-lesson with. He's been through a LOT of stuff in his life.... Gangs, prison, now works for a homeless shelter, and is in an awful divorce trying to win custody of his son. It's so funny when we talk to people and they say things like "Yeah, I've been baptized and I know that I'm saved". And then they go on to tell you all the rough stuff they have been a part of... but don't worry, they are "saved". The Atonement is just brushed under the rug which is just so sad to me because it is SO much more than just a one-time-dunk-and-you're-good-to-go. The Atonement is everlasting and learning to understand it and apply it is what this life is all about.

Lois is still around, but we haven't met with her yet cause her husband has been in the hospital but she says her "intentions are still good" and she still really wants to learn more about the Book of Mormon. Pray for Lois! She is amazing!

We had FHE with our part member family but the dad was out of tow.... But we had such a fun lesson about missionary work and made those sorry missionary tags that are in the picture. The kids loved them and we had a good time so that's all that matters right? (the perfectionist in me is trying to convince myself that it doesn't matter that the tags were awful looking haha). Those kids are adorable. Alex, the little boy is hilarious. Sister Browning asked him "Who's your favorite missionary?" He said "Sister Browninghoff". Smart kid! 

There is nothing like talking to someone on the street who is CLEARLY high and then walking away and him saying "I was gonna offer you a hit... but then I realized you were a missionary". Nice. We meet people that ae high ALL the time. It's really sad. But they are usually really nice.... haha.

Robert Webster Light Jr is getting the Priesthood this week! He is so stoked. His Birthday is coming up in March and so we were talking to him about what we could do for him. He "isn't particular to food" but he does like taco bell so we decided we'd take him there. He came to the VC yesterday needing to talk to us.... He says "I need to talk to you about our birthday gathering. I know that we had decided to go to Taco Bell... but I just don't know how I feel about that. I mean honestly, if you want to do something for me for my birthday, then write me a card and we can spend some time together... Tacos are a part of life, they come and they go but it's the friendship that matters. I've never had friends before and I don't want you to go to trouble to buy me tacos when all I really want is to spend time with the greatest missionaries that the church has to offer." (you can wipe away your tear now). We will definitely be writing him a card, don't you even worry. We will still try to do something for him even though he doesn't want tacos.

I wish there was more to update on but there really isn't. Miracles happen left and right at the VC especially when it includes me speaking in Spanish. I can almost talk about the Gospel pretty well but real life conversation, don't even ask me to do that. I do love Spanish though and I love learning it and speaking the words that I do know. Haha.

The Book of Mormon is just awesome. In my reading yesterday I read about Alma and Amulek in Alma 14 when they watch all the women and children be burned. It really paints such a vivid picture and puts tears in my eyes every time I read. When Amulek says "Behold, perhaps they will burn us also." Alma responds "Be it according to the will of the Lord. But, behold our work is not finished; therefore they burn us not," It makes me think how sometimes we think we should just give up and let the world destroy us. Rather, let satan destroy us by USING the worlds influence. But alas, our work is not finished! Therefore, don't give in! Let the Savior decide what we need to do and go forward, not letting the stumbling blocks or the hard and bad things that happen to us and others stand in the way of the work that the Lord has for us to do. obviously for me right now it is my mission. There are hard moments, but they are only moments and the big picture, the RWLJ's of the world makes the watching the flames like Alma and Amulek all worth it. The world is such a sick place, especially here in Los Angeles. Satan is just holding the reins and this city is the horse.

Well I think that is all for now. The Church is true. The Book of Mormon is awesome. I love being a missionary and I am so glad to be here.

Sista Brink
Zekaih and her boys and I. She is a recent convert and is so amazing. She's had more challenges than I've ever heard of and she still comes to church every sunday. So awesome.

The Meyer Family kids and Sis Browning and I with their name tags haha. Don't judge. We are poor missionaries ok