Monday, March 28, 2011

Transfer #5 Begins!

Now thats a crazy thought. I am in my 5th transfer all ready. 5 might not seem like very much... but if you think about it, I only have 12 transfers. SO I am almost half way done which is MADNESS!

I had a really funny dream last night.... So my whole family shows up at the VC and they knew it was P-day so they came prepared with water games to go play in a park with me. I said I could go, after some serious hesitation (Well DUH! That's breaking a SERIOUS rule) and my companion said we could go too. The whole dream I was thinking (as myself IN the dream) "Oh my gosh this is so bad. What am I doing? They are gonna kick me out!" But the best part is that they brought a friend (not sure who it was...) along and he said "Hey, Bay, your Mom wanted to give you a gift for your mission" and then he puts a CD and it's " Yo I'll tell you what I want what I really really want... If you wanna be my lover" by Spicegirls and I was just jammin out in the car while my companion was stressing out in the drivers seat. HA. I promise, this was only a dream. I woke up VERY grateful that I was in my tiny apartment and not breaking any rules. Ha. The dreams of a missionary... I should keep a dream journal cause some of them are pretty classic. Also Embarrassing.

I can't believe Joe Arnett is engaged. How DARE he get married knowing I won't be able to be there! He's not invited to my wedding then either. TAKE THAT JOE! Only teasing, I'm so happy for you my life long best buddy! Can't wait to meet her!She better be AMAZING. I'm sure she is... What a lucky gal too! Ah I'm so happy for you Joe Joe. Love you! You better not have a little Bay when I get home (you are gonna name a child after me, right? I thought we agreed..."

Whew. I think I say this every week, but THIS week TRULY was a whirlwind. Last Pday seems like YEARS ago. And next time I e-mail I might be in a different area. I really hope not... but it's extremely possible because I have been in Santa Monica for 6 months... So it might be time for a change.

There is an amazing man named Sid who I just love. He is Jewish and he owns a hotel in Santa Monica. I think I might've talked about him before. Anyways... We saw him on Tuesday and had a great discussion about religion and Christ. It's interesting because it seems as though he just goes with his beliefs as more of a tradition. Maybe that's the case for a lot of Jewish people, which is totally understandable because when you grow up believing something and being told it is true, then it does become a tradition. The great thing about our church is that we are all invited to find out for ourselves what is truth. I am so grateful that I had great examples growing up to teach me truth, BUT even more grateful that I learned that I needed to find out for myself. And I did. And guess what? ITS TRUE. Anyways... Sid invited us to a Sader dinner to start the passover off... I really hope I'm around so that I can go. I sang for him, and the deal was that he has to come to the VC now. So hopefully soon he will come to the VC and feel the spirit testify to him that Christ really was the Messiah. I think he knows it... just scared to actually do something about it. Which is completely understandable.

We had a lesson with Perla! Hallelujah! Seriously this is a BIG deal because she always SETS appointments and seems really interested in learning, but then flakes. So it was a huge miracle that she was there. Ok, so she might've forgotten about the appointment, but she still let us in and we talked for an hour. She is very confused because after her husband was shot and killed a few years ago, she started really wanting to find religion and peace. SO she met with the Jehovas Witness', 7th Day, Catholic, and Mormons. Man, can you imagine how frustrated her brain is? So we talked about the Plan of Salvation which confused her more because of all the opposing ideas about the afterlife, and then talked about the "so what?" of it all. And it all comes down to, once again, being able to receive a personal revelation of truth. That is why the Book of Mormon has withstood the trials it has undergone. Because it's proof is in the reading and the praying to find out from THE source if it is true. So pray that Perla will do that. It will be a great day when she goes to the temple to be sealed to her husband.

Sandy is doing Ok. We had a bit of  situation with the ward this week but I'd rather not go into it here... But she is just very overwhelmed and not quite sure what she wants to do. Poor thing, she is just the most humble woman with a huge desire to do good. But she also has stage 3 breast cancer... So she is just frustrated. I hope she can really understand how the Gospel will help her. I have faith she will.

STILL can't get a hold of Lois. Touchy subject. Rather not talk about it. Haha.

Got a surprise call at the VC this week. You know who you are. And it was fun :)

Yesterday a man from india walked into the VC and said "Why is the church not open... isn't this your big day?" talking about the temple. Which is always perfect because right close to the front entrance, we have pictures of inside the temple with descriptions that we can explain what goes on. We had a great lesson and talked about the book of mormon. He was fascinated by Moroni 10:3-5 about reading and praying to know (seems like that's the subject of my letter today... There seems to be a pattern) and I really believe he will do just that! It was a neat experience.

After 6 months of becoming less- high maintenance, Sis Cass and I are going to get Pedicures today for her last pday. I never thought I would let my feet look as bad as they do right now. Oh the sacrifices.. Hahah. Only teasing. I'm not going to lie though, I'm excited to get a nice foot rub. And Sis Cass deserves one, she is going home on Wednesday! Crazy. It was funny getting her all ready to go home. During our weekly planning session, I made her set number goals ( while I set number goals for the next week) for how many people she will meet etc. Haha I'm so mean. She's really nervous about dating and stuff... I guess I will be that way too someday. Weird.

I was going to share a scripture favorite, but I am running out of time... Next week. Thank you all for the support, letters, and love! I miss you all very much but I am so happy to be doing what
I am doing...

Sista Brink

Saying Good-bye to our favorite member, Tiffany!

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Ups and Downs

That is the most common theme of a mission: Ups and Downs. The ups are REALLY ups and the downs are REALLY downs. This week we had a bit of both.

We met a guy named Herschel at the 3rd Street Promenade last Monday during P day and he stopped us and said "Hey, I didn't know there were girl missionaries." Turns out, he had met with the Elders a couple of times before... We talked for a sec and I asked him if he'd ever prayed about the Book of Mormon and he sort of ignored the question. But then we asked if we could meet up and talk more about it. He said sure, and then we set an appointment with him for later in the week. When I called to confirm, we got into a long conversation on the phone about the Book of Mormon. I have to be honest, it was really frustrating. It's hard when people aren't even open to trying it out and experimenting with it. "The Book is TRUE! And it will CHANGE your life!" is what I wanted to scream, but he couldn't get over "additional scripture", meaning, he didn't want to read anything other than the Bible. Which is sad, because while the Bible is wonderful to read and understand, it is imperfect. The Book of Mormon is pure. Anyways, so we confirmed our appt and then he wasn't there. So I called him last night to set something else up, we had another long conversation, and then content to face it, I had to just realize that he is not ready. And then, like clockwork, this morning he called and said he didn't want to meet. The only thing that can come from a low like that is a high, so this week we are bound to see some amazing miracles.

We were able to contact a former investigator named Kathy. Well, she was actually not really an investigator but we contacted her once and then she bailed on all of our appointments. When we miraculously found her at home on Tuesday, we explained the apostasy and the need for the Book of Mormon to her and she said she would meet with us this week. PRAY SHE KEEPS HER APPOINTMENT! Sometimes I don't have full faith in people because they have toyed with my emotions haha. It's interesting how much being a missionary is like dating... I get to a point sometimes where I am jaded, so then I don't want to really attach myself to anyone else or believe that something good can come from it because I don't want to get hurt again. Hahahahahah... That's kinda funny how that ties in perfectly actually. Realizing Herschel wasn't ready was like realizing you aren't really going to keep dating someone. Man, thats funny. But nonetheless, I am going to have faith that Kathy will keep her return appointment and will feel the spirit prompting her to pray about the Book of Mormon.

Another former potential investigator, Perla, came back into the scheme. She is going to meet with us this week (PRAY!) so that is exciting. These two ladies (Perla and Kathy) I've never been able to quite let go of. Once you "drop" someone, meaning you no longer try to set up appointments for a while, you usually just go on and not forget about them, but you definitely don't keep going back. And yet I have never been able to stop thinking about these 2 so maybe that means something. I will have faith! I will not be jaded!!!

Transfers are coming up this next week, the 30th, and it's really gonna be interesting what happens. There are 5 sisters leaving and ZERO coming in... So right now we have 2 sets of sisters in the Santa Monica area, but because we won't have enough sisters, they will probably only keep one which means its very likely that they'll kick me out because my companion is leaving anyway. Sad. I hope not, but It's possible.

Sandy is doing... Ok... She is homeless at the moment, staying with Sis Hurst. But hopefully today she might be able to find a place. She didn't come to church yesterday because she was sick so that was a bummer. We had dinner with them on Friday and discussed the possibility of her finding a place to stay etc. She might have to move to downtown LA which would be really sad but the missionaries there would take care of her. Her youngest son, Matthew, started reading the chapters we have assigned Sandy! He came to church yesterday with Sis Hurst also which was fantastic. He's just such a cute kid. He wants to be baptized too. Brandon can't really internalize the teachings, so it will be up to Sandy if she wants him to be baptized or not... Sandy is an amazing woman. She opened up about her life a bit and MAN she has just been through it. It's hard for me to hear things like that and not tear up, which I don't want to do because I don't want her to feel uncomfortable or anything. I just really am so grateful for the blessings I have had in being raised in the Gospel and with a roof over my head and all of the amazing things my family has done for me... I can't even express how humbling it is when you see someone who has nothing just trying to get by.

Speaking of that... we went to go see a former investigator a couple days ago. She is a young single mom. We pulled up to her house and walked up the walkway and there were 2 men totally drunk out on the porch watching TV. We talked to them for a second and then the most darling little girl came to the window and starting making faces and talking with me. I fell in love with her! Then the men explained that her Mom was somewhere with her boyfriend. AHG! So sad..I wanted to take the little girl home with me. My eyes are being a little more opened everyday.

Speaking of Moms... My Mom is the best. Really. But that's not what I was gonna say. Sis Beck is really pushing that we need to teach the youth how to have successful families... So our VC Director and his wife are really encouraging us as Sisters to not only be strengthening our testimonies etc but to be preparing for Motherhood. It's definitely given me a new perspective on how I can prepare now to be a good Mom like my Mom was to me. I better start now cause I have a LOT to work on.

Lois didn't come to church yesterday (a definite low) but we saw her last week on her birthday and she said she has started telling everyone that "the Mormons got it right". Haha! She and her husband are both reading the book of mormon so its definitely just a matter of time until she has enough time to really learn and progress towards baptism. Hopefully we will be able to have a lesson with her this week.

OH! So we found Storm again and her dad came out and talked to us. Turns out he is the youngest of the Debarge brothers that sang "The Rhythm of the Night" in the 80s! Hahaha. Some people from Warner Bros were at their house when we stopped by because they are trying to make Storm a star. The Dad talked to us for a bit saying that he was really glad we have been coming back and that he is really proud of Storm for taking the initiative to learn more. So cool. Definitely an UP!

My hand hurts from typing... So I'm gonna close. I love this work so much and I am so grateful I get to be a missionary. It's the best thing ever. THE GOSPEL IS TRUE! ABSO-FRUITLY

Sista Brink

Monday, March 14, 2011

Wonder of Wonder, Miracle of Miracles!

It's really amazing how good the Lord is being to Santa Monica. Really, we are experiencing miracle after miracle and I am so grateful. I'm not sure even where to start.

We were able to meet with Sandy on Tuesday of last week and we had a great lesson about the Restoration of the Gospel. The Spirit was really strong and we invited her to be baptized and she said yes! She is preparing for Baptism for the 16th of April. PRAY that I don't get transferred out of Santa Monica this next transfer... there is just too much good happening. Sandy and her two boys came to church yesterday! There I was, the opening prayer about to be said and tears are just welling and my neck is sore from straining it to see if they are walking in, and then the prayer and I really did pray hard that I would be OK if they didn't come, but PLEASE help them to come, and then I opened my eyes, resolved that they weren't coming and then Sis Cass says "They're here!" They scurried to a bench and I scurried over to sit by them. We truly do worship a "4th watch God" (if you don't know what I am talking about, refer to a past e-mail...) and I am so grateful for the moments that Heavenly Father lets us struggle because then WAM! He gives us the blessing. Truly amazing. Sandy's eldest son has autism and he usually only speaks in rap. It's pretty hilarious. Brother Webb (ward mission leader) said "Hey Buddy we'll see ya next week" and Brandon responded (in a rap): "Next time you see me, it'll be with twice the force... I'm a G..." and something else along those lines. Truly wonderful. Matthew, the younger son who is 9,  went to primary and I was actually asked to play the piano in Primary so I got to see him interact with the other kids and he did great! His teacher was of course amazing and really included him. I am so grateful for the Santa Monica 1st ward! It was a great experience. After church, they all came to the VC with Sis Hurst and they stayed for quite a long time. Matthew kept saying "Hey can we go see this again... hey can we watch another movie..." It was so fun to be able to feel the spirit. Sandy is an amazingly patient woman. And so humble. She has zero hair so she wears a wig and she wears it proudly! Her cancer is pretty bad. Pray for her.

Robert Webster Light Jr is officially a sacrament passer. He made SURE that we sat on a row that he would serve the Sacrament to so that he would be able to give us our bread and water. Awwwww. He wrote a song for the Visitors Center Sisters on the piano and we had a "Premier" for it on Wednesday and it was so much fun to see him share this piece that he had worked so hard on. Afterwards he gave a little speech and said "This has a little bit of each of you in it... you've changed my life". He is just the best. He always calls me an "artist" because once I made a calendar with him and drew some music notes or something on it so he thinks I am a musician AND an artist. SO if you know me, you know that at one point in my life I REALLY did think I was going to be an artist. So I started practicing drawing and would draw peoples head shots and anything I wanted to really. And if you have seen any of them, you KNOW that I am, in fact, an AWFUL artist. SO to prove to Robert how bad I am at it, I drew him. See attached picture... He still wanted me to sign it after my begging him to throw it away saying "Robert I don't want you to think this is what I think you look like!!!!" And he said "Sister Brinkerhoff... this was drawn in love. I will keep it forever." 

Great. Just great. He's such a delicate little thing.

Alls I'm sayin is I hate stupid daylight savings... It throws me off and I HATE exercising in the dark. Just saying, Arizona really knows whats up by NOT having daylight savings. Losing a precious hour of sleep as a missionary is torture. Just sayin.

Something fun happened, but also VERY naughty. If you want to know, ask my Mom because I don't' want to be judged, and it was HER fault. I didn't do anything wrong! But Mom, I loved every second :)

Well I actually have a lot of other things BUT I am running out of time and need to write a couple other e-mails, so I think that will do for today :) Really, pray for Sandy and her family.

I love this work, I love the Gospel, I love being a croc-wearing-missionary (just don't tell anyone) and I love all of you!

Sista Brink

p.s. the purple shoes were a gift from Sis Bolton, the one I gave my darling red flats to... Fair trade, don't ya think?

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Pot of Gold at the End of the Rainbow

Yes, it has been a week of gold... We had a lot of miracles this week in Santa Monica!

I want to start by talking about last monday, after I sent this e-mail home, when the Young Ambassadors came to the VC! It was so much fun. I loved seeing everyone and I LOVED hearing their fireside. Randy surprisingly invited me to sing with them for "Come Thou Fount" which was really special. I looked out and saw so many people who have become so special to me... Robert Webster Light Jr, a bunch of Elders, my Sisters who I just love so much (a few I couldn't look at cause they were crying and I knew I would too if I looked at them), our Directors of the VC, a lot of the Senior couples... Just so many people who I love. And THEN to be singing with a group that really had a huge impact on my life. It was really neat. And THEN Randy asked me to bear my testimony. Well if you know me at all you know I am a spaz. Especially when I am feeling the spirit. I just get REALLY excited about what I am saying and I basically shout "I KNOW ITS TRUE!!!!" And of course say a lot of really dumb things... Sometimes I wonder if I need to become more subdued with my testimony... Ha. But anyways, it was just such a treat and I am so grateful that they came, that I was able to share this new piece of my life with them and also be able to listen to them sing. Wonderful! And to be able to tell Randy, who was my stand-in Dad for 2 years while I was on the group, about my mission and have him meet THE Robert Webster Light Jr... I am blessed.

SO. I learned a lot this week. About a LOT of different things.... But I am not sure how much of it I will be able to remember and write down so I'm just gonna have to do my best.

The biggest highlight is our lesson with Lois. She came to the VC on Saturday which was really such a miracle because I honestly was doubting a little bit that she would show up (there I go with my faith issues... working on it...) but IN she walked and I seriously threw my hands in the air and said " LOIS! You're here!". We had an amazing lesson with her and the Spirit was really strong. She has amazing questions, questions that only the Gospel can answer. Halfway through our teaching her and answering her questions she said "Goodness, I should just join your church! With two lovely YOUNG ladies who are answering my questions better than anyone else ever has!" Ummmm OK?! Right?! I know. So then by the end, we of course invited her to prepare for baptism and I couldn't even finish the invitation before she said "Well ya! Ya!" Needless to say, I could barely contain myself. It's always funny when something like that happens cause you never want to act TOO excited and start screaming and hugging so you try to just be calm and act like that happens every day... and I struggle with pretending like it does. Ha. It's a good thing I'm SUCH a good actress :) (sarcasm involved). So we have a lesson with her this week, and she is really excited to read the Book of Mormon. She left saying "So now I have the old and new testaments, AND the Bible!" Wow.

We had quite a situation with our Jewish friend, Sid. So Sid owns a hotel in Santa Monica and he LOVES us. He wanted either sis Browning or I to marry his son (he's gonna be a doctor... so I'm still thinking about it... keeping my options open... Just kidding :) and now he thinks sister cass is pretty cool too. So we went to see him (He's totally gonna get baptized someday, ps) and we were having a great conversation and one of his tenants at the hotel came in to talk to him... Long story short... It was totally a "What about Bob" situation because the guy was waiting for his ride so that he could leave for the night and come back the next day (santa monica has a law about only being able to stay at a hotel for 28 days at a time) and then finally his ride comes. His ride is his therapist for anger management and took him on as a Prob-Ono case 3 years ago and he is still needing his help. The therapist was SO cool but very frustrated by his client. Anyway, probably more funny in real life... but still pretty funny. If you've seen "What about Bob" it's exactly that story.

Also a highlight: I met "Bad Brad". If you don't know who that is, neither do I... but apparently hes a big deal becasue he's the best surfer in Malibu. But he didn't look very "Bad" to me. Anyways. We taught him a lesson on the street and I sang him a song. Haha. Kinda fun.

We have a new investigator named Sandy. She is a friend of our Less active family the Hursts (the one we've been working with to quit smoking... she hasn't smoked yet! Hooray! And I LOVE being off Sugar still.) and she has breast cancer and has just had a really hard life. We met her last night and she seems so humble and just wants to do what is right. She has 2 kids, both boys and one is autistic and she has nothing basically. So sad. We are so excited to help her understand how to follow Jesus Christ more. She is really sweet.

I'm addicted to H&M.

I'm also addicted to Pink Berry. Much better than yogurtland... just saying.

My hair touches my shoulders now and is probably almost it's natural color... (who knows what their natural color is anymore?)

Sister Bolton gave me a pair of purple shoes in return for my darling red ones that I gave her. Picture next week (I forgot my camera today). Wait til you see them. I have to wear them to church at least once so that she knows how much I appreciate them :) I'll be getting turned heads for sure! I always do have to make a statement I guess. Ha.

Ok I'm gonna talk about the Book of Mormon just for a sec. So in 3 Nephi 3 we have a great story. Maybe my new favorite. So the Nephites are really nervous about the Gadianton Robbers coming to destroy them. So they tell Gidgidoni to pray to the father to TELL the father what THEY want to do. Vs 20: "Now the people said unto Gidgidonni: Pray unto the Lord and let us go up upon the mountains and into the wilderness, that we may fall upon the robbers and destroy them in their own lands." I think I sometimes do that. I pray, semi-asking the Lord to give me what I need, and then I TELL him how I WANT it to be done and exactly WHAT I need... But oh how wrong that is! Who am I to be telling GOD what to do? I should probably chill out and let HIM decide what is best. Anyways... going on. So then Gid (I don't want to type it anymore) goes and prays but then tells them what the LORD wants them to do "The Lord forbid; for if we should go u[p against them the Lord would deliver us into their hands; therefore we will prepare ourselves in the center of our lands, and we will gather all our armies together and we will ot go against them, but we will wait till they shall come against us; therefore as the Lord liveth, if we do this he will deliever them into our hands." So they do this! They follow Gid and guess what happens?! WELL let me tell you. When the Nephites see the armies approaching do they run towards them with their OWN strength to defend them? Nay. When they see this huge, scary army approaching the Nephites "had fallen to the earth, and did lift their cries to the Lord their God that he would spare them and deliver them out of the hands of their enemies." Now, I don't know about you. But when the scary army is approaching me, I just clench on, and probably try to figure out how I, MYSELF can handle the army. Singlehandedly. But I need to follow the example of the Nephites and really rely on the Lord to deliver me. Do you think the Nephites won the battle? Of course they did! The Lord always delivers us when we rely on Him. That's the thought for the day.

Well I believe that is all I have for you this week. It always seems like I leave out a TON, but alas, one hour is just not very long. Ha. Allrighty, thank you all so much for your support, prayers, love, letters, friendship, memories... Gosh, I am really blessed and really lucky to have the best friends and family in the world.

The Gospel IS TRUE.

Sister Brinkerhoff