Monday, April 25, 2011

So Long, April

Here I am again. Staring blankly at the screen wondering where to even begin. I'm not sure e-mailing will ever get easier.

First off. Everyone, thank you for the letters! There really is nothing like receiving letters as a missionary. It's kind of embarrassing how wonderful it is. So thank you. And I am sorry if my responses are delayed... our time is really limited on P-days for letter writing, but I really do make an effort to write back. Keep the updates coming! Love you all.

Goodness gracious.

Don't know what to do

Or say.

Ok... Megan. Is. Awesome. She is still getting baptized on May 14th. Hoorayyyyy! She is so wonderful and has seriously good questions about things. She really does want this and God really is answering her prayers. Such a blessing and the miracle of this gospel! God wants us to prove him right! And what is interesting is that in Moroni 10 vs 4 he doesn't say "I will tell you it is right" he says "ask God in the name of Christ if these things are NOT true". I think we sometimes are waiting for god to say YES! It's True! But really, he wants us to recognize that the subtle, good feelings just supporting its truth are our answers. Unless something says NO! inside of us, it is usually a good thing. Just like Moroni says in chapter 7... Man, he was a great guy, don't ya think?

We another investigator named Kaz who is really amazing. She has a lot of desire to learn, and realizes that she has to humble herself to do so. We had a lesson the other day and the spirit was SO strong. Like THICK strong. It was pretty amazing. She is a really cool person.

I'm at a loss. This has been a whirlwind of a transfer and I am not really sure what has even happened. Good thing I'm a good journal writer because my blog letters have been FAILING.

I had a couple visits this week. John, Alyssa, Johns Sister in law and adorable nephews and Jeremiah with a couple friends from his cruise. SO fun! It's really weird to be in a place where people can just show up and see me. I LOVE it, but then I hate it all at the same time because there is so much to tell, so much to want to hear, and not enough time before I have to get back to work. You also have to be really careful to not get out of the "zone" of missionary work which is sometimes hard to do. I have never felt like I couldn't get back into focus after visits, I think I just feel badly because I can't REALLY give of myself or my time to them when they come. And then they leave and I think of all of the things I should have told them, or asked, and then it's sad to think that it will be a while before that is possible again. But then its back to work, and it's totally ok. So to you friends, I love you and I am grateful you came... and I'm sorry I couldn't really be "bay" but I only get to be Sister Brinkerhoff for a short time. Thank you for your support and love :)

I really don't think I have anything else to say today. LAME letter, I know... Next week will be better.

THE GOSPEL IS TRUE!!!!!! It truly truly is

Sista Brink

Monday, April 18, 2011

Where is April?

Really though. Where did April go? It is almost over and I'm not even really sure what happened... It's been a whirlwind of a month that's for sure. And the wind keeps a blowin!

Starting these e-mails is always a bit of a task because I can't ever REALLY put my thoughts into words very quickly. Or remember everything that happened. The weeks seem like years when you look back at them, but then it's amazing how fast time flies.

This week was a lot of preparation for Sarah's baptism. She planned EVERYTHING to the T and was so excited for her baptism. It was really neat to see her plan everything with the excitement she had. She is so awesome. Her baptismal interview was Tuesday with Elder Jacobboogar (it's really Jacobberger... He's AWESOME. But I did see him picking his nose in the car once and so now he will forever be Jacobboogar) and it went really really well. She was in the room forever which meant she was probably telling him EVERYTHING which is awesome. Her baptism was Saturday and it was so amazing! We had a Mini Missionary (Sister Frankerhoff. But really her name was Stephanie Camano, we just named her Frankerhoff  because we thought it was funny. And it was.) and she was such a brave soul and even spoke with us during our "Missionary Moment". I sang "Did you think to pray" at Sarah's request and it was fun to be able to share that with her. She is so great and we are so excited for her. Miracles in Bel Air!

Paulette. Saddest Story ever. We had a lesson with her on Wednesday and the first thing she said was "I read the chapter in the Book of Mormon you wanted me to read and I agree. I want to follow Jesus Christ and be baptized (it was 2 Nephi 31... all about Baptism and the doctrine of Christ)." Um. Ok?! So we had a great lesson and talked about the Restoration and watched the Restoration video and I really don't think she blinked once. The Spirit is always so strong during that video. I love it. Anyways, she was all gung ho and then the next day we got a phone call from her and she was really upset because she had lunch with her step mom (the wife of an Emmy award winning composer.... ) and Paulette told her about being baptized a mormon and the step mom blew up at her and started telling her all of the rumors that are SO not true about the church and won't let her get baptized. Paulette has to follow her rules because she is under her guardianship because of some emotional problems. So sad. She is really sad about it. She will be able to be baptized someday, I have faith. We will still go visit her but we just might get yelled at by the woman who takes care of Paulette who has strict orders to not let us in. It really is so sad that some people are so mislead about things we believe that are just so far from the truth. If only they knew... I guess we wouldn't need missionaries if they did.

Megan is doing awesome! We had dinner with her the other night at our favorite member of the UCLA ward, Ang, and had a lesson too. It was awesome and she really feels like God is answering her prayers about the Book of Mormon. And guess what? HE IS. Duh. She is just solid. So solid.

We had Stake Conference yesterday and it was pretty amazing. Sis Franks and I were lucky enough to have had dinner with the Stake President and his family on Thursday and really got to know them and I fell in love with them! And then to see Pres Bragg speak at both the new member/investigator meeting and then the actual conference just made me respect and admire him even more. He really is an exemplary man and I'm pretty sure he's next to be a General Authority. Just a humble, kinds, wise, good man. I need one of those someday. He talked about Building the Kingdom and how it is SO important that we help do just that! In fact, it is a commandment. Sometimes I get questions like "what can I do to help you Sis Brinkerhoff?" from people back home and this is my response. HELP THE MISSIONARIES! Talk to people about the Gospel! Give referrals at the Visitors Centers! FEED the missionaries and prayerfully think about someone you can invite! All things that I would love :) I hope that someday I can be a good member-missionary because nothing makes you realize how important it really is than when you are needing the members to help.

I am not sure I have anything else to really write about. Seems like a lot more happened that I am missing, but I think I've come to a conclusion that that is just how it will always be. For the next 10 months (woa... thats all I have left) I will never feel like I express exactly what I wanted to. Oh well.

The Gospel is TRUE!

Sista Brink

Monday, April 11, 2011

Bel Air is On FIRE!

This week was truly a week of miracles. I don't even know where to begin!  I am so grateful to be a missionary. Best experiences of my life.

I really just stared at the screen for a precious 30 seconds of could-be-typing time because I really have no idea where to start.


I'll start with Paulette. Paulette was a self-referral from the VC, meaning she came into the VC and after a tour, decided to have the missionaries come over. SO we are the lucky ones who get to teach her! We had a first (and only thus far) lesson with her on Wednesday. She lives in a really cool apartment close to UCLA campus and is a super talented painter. (yes, I am jealous). She has pictures of her mom all over because she was an actress who won an academy award for something, I can't remember what. Her Dad won an emmy too for some old TV show. Crazy. Anyways, we had a lesson with Paulette and she agreed with everything like right of the bat. Great, right? It's funny though because as a missionary, you expect their to be conflict, so when we talk about the Joseph Smith story and ask if they believe that could be true and she says "yes" (thats all. Just a "yes") you're almost tempted to question them and be like " What?` How do YOU know that?!" Haha. It's interesting. But we invited Paulette to prepare herself for baptism on April 30th, and, of course, she said yes. Woa. Unfortunately, she couldn't get to church yesterday so we will have to postpone her baptism a week or so because they need to attend 3 times. But such a miracle. Paulette is a very unique and interesting soul... But I absolutely love her and am very excited for her.

Megan Mahlstedt. Oh my goodness Megan Mahlstedt. Megan is a Bel Air "Legend" because she was a "golden" investigator for some elders about a year ago. She was progressing beautifully and then just fell off the face of the earth. Then 3 sets of missionaries tried and tried to meet with her consistently with no success. And then, when I got here, I learned more about her and things and just had a really good feeling about her even though she hadn't been in touch with the missionaries for a long time. And then on Thursday night we were doing our planning for the next day and I said "lets go see Megan Mahlstedt tomorrow... just see if we can get in touch with her" and then not even 5 minutes later we had a text message from Megan Mahlstedt saying "Hey sisters, I don't know if you even have my phone number anymore but this is Megan Mahlstedt and I was wondering if I could come to church on Sunday?" WHAT?! Yeah, I about peed. I tried to play it cool when I texted her back even though I wanted to call her and say "YES YOU CAN COME! DO YOU WANT TO BE BAPTIZED YET?!" but we set an appointment for Saturday. We met at the VC and just talked. She is adorable by the way. A total babe. And my friend. Anyways. We had a great talk about what she really wants and by the end, she had committed to a baptismal date for May 14th. And she is so excited about it and, of course, I am SO excited for her and so grateful that the Lord is so aware of all of us. Ahhh. The miracles. She came to  church yesterday to the UCLA ward and it was the Primary Program so it was hilarious. Made me miss my little ones at home :( She liked it, and everyone was super friendly. Wooo hoo!!!

Melinda Ho's baptism on Saturday was lovely. She is the smartest 10 year old I have ever met. Her baptism was very sweet and she was so excited. She is such a doll and I am so happy I got to be a part of her baptism! I am so excited for her and her family. What a sweetie pants.

A few days ago a group of 80+ Hindi people came to the VC for a tour. And I got put in charge of it along with the Directors Elder and Sis Macdonald. It was an amazing amazing amazing experience. One I will remember forever. I could not believe how these wonderful people showed their faith in everything that they do, wear, say.... Everything! We were able to have some very special experiences in talking about service, the family, and Jesus Christ. Even though they don't believe he is the same being we believe him to be, we were able to really find common ground and share in the feelings of the Spirit. I admire those beautiful women wearing their beautiful, colorful, hand sewn clothing. Ah it was amazing. A lot of them were curious about the Book of Mormon, so it was introduced and then anyone who wanted one could request it in Hindu or English. A lot of them requested it. My view or perception about other religions has really changed over the past 7 months. I know that God is so aware of so many people who are doing the absolute best with what they know, and are doing their best to worship God and try to help others. These people were a wonderful example of that and I am so grateful I was able to be with them for a couple of hours. Tears were shed and lots of smiles shared.

The Lord REALLY does lead us to where we need to be if he wants us to be there. The other day we decided to go see a potential investigator Darina. We went to the apartment complex, miraculously got inside (it's ALWAYS miraculous if you can get in... ) and then realized we didn't have her apartment number. But I had written 313 down in my Planner for another address so for some reason I said lets go knock that door. It was Darina's apartment! So weird. But Darina wasn't home, but her roommate, Holly from China, answered and let us in. We basically taught a 1st lesson about the Restoration and she was really amazed and was listening very intently. The Spirit was VERY strong and I know she felt it. She didn't want to set a return appointment because she wanted to think about it but she will call eventually when she is ready. But my testimony was really strengthened that night that the Lord will always place us in places that we need to be to help someone else. Always. I am realizing how much I need to depend on the Lord for EVERYTHING. Often times we will be stuck, not knowing where we should go or what we should do and then we will pray and I will know what we need to do next. And then a miracle happens.

Ok this is a tad long. I am just so happy to be a missionary! It's really funny to walk around UCLA campus and talk to people because they just think we are so weird haha. But then they talk to us and realize we aren't (hopefully). But it is so neat to be able to have this tag on, to know that nothing else really matters but what we are inviting people to do, and that it really doesn't matter if people think we are crazy because we AREN'T! this is TRUE! Ah it really really really is.

Sista Brink

 Pictures: Melinda Ho's baptism, the Beach Pday, Saying goodbye to Sis Cass, Browning, Elders Tuttle and Hoehne
Sister Franks, (New companion), and Melinda

Monday, April 4, 2011

Fresh Sister of Bel Air

Yep. I am now serving in the Bel Air/ Beverly Hills area. WHAT?! Larry King's wife is in my ward. And Dr. 90210. And Rob Moffat (equally famous). Pretty cool, eh? I haven't met tons of people yet because of conference so we obviously didn't have church... But I am very excited to meet everyone. My companion-- Sis Franks who is still a little baby in her second transfer-- and I have our work cut out for us. Sis Franks got to know the area sort of well, but not extremely well so we are really figuring things out together. We cover 2 wards, the Westwood 1st ward and the UCLA student ward which is way fun. UCLA campus is way neat and it's fun to drive around and see all the students and everything. I'm excited to teach younger people too! The freshman in that ward are super into missionary work which is awesome. The area is surrounding the temple and up to Beverly Hills so it's a pretty "hard" area because it's a very rich area but I am absolutely stoked about it. My companion and I are really getting along great so I am happy as a clam. A little stressed with the work that needs to be done in this area and how to go about doing it, but it's ok. Oh yeah, I am driving again for the first time in 7 months. I sort of felt like I was 16 again getting on the freeway and stuff. I was just imagining the first time Troy Brinkerhoff the MASTER of driving (at least he thought so) and I drove on the freeway together and what a frightening experience that was. Now multiply that times 100 and that's driving in LA for ya.

We have a couple baptisms coming up. One is an 11 year old girl whose family has been less active so she wasn't baptized at 8. She is darling and SO smart. She might know the Gospel better than I do! Her baptism is this Saturday and we are so happy for her and for her family that they are progressing so nicely. The other is Sarah. Sarah has been a LONG process, but she has finally decided to be baptized. I actually knew her before I was transferred into this area because she came into the VC quite a lot so that was nice. Her baptism is on the 16th and she is so excited. This will be the first baptism in the WW 1st ward for a couple years so that is way exciting. She is way cool and I am so grateful to be a part of her conversion process.

Oh by the way... I am now in the Westwood Zone. Which is just funny because it makes me feel like I am in High School again because our zone leaders say things like "Tear it up Westwood". And I have a flashback. Just a funny side note.

SO. I guess I should do an update for the week.

Saying Adios to a big chunk of sisters was sad, but also exciting because I am excited to see what great things come their way. I will miss them of course, but 10 months will fly by and I will be able to see everyone again! They were all so funny about leaving. Everyone says that happens to everyone, but I'll believe it when I'm there I guess. I guess I just don't think it needs to be as dramatic as it turns out to be. Now just watch, I'll be sobbing and someone will have to pull me away from LA when it's my time to go haha.

And then Wednesday was transfers. What is crazy is that all day Tuesday, when everyone is wondering what is going to happen, I KNEW that I was going to Bel Air with Sis Franks. I really just knew that was going to happen. And then at 9:30 we got the call and I was right! Haha. It was hard to call everyone from my beloved Santa Monica 1st ward, but also really exciting for a new change. I will always keep in touch with that ward because I love everyone there so much. RWLJ was of course bummed, but we will still see each other at the VC. "We will always be friends. And you might be Bailee Brinkerhoff to the world, but you will always be sister Brinkerhoff to me! MY missionary!" was what he said to me :(. Tender. I don't know if I will ever meet someone like RWLJ. In fact I know I won't. He is truly one of a kind. And a GREAT kind. So then wednesday morning we drove to Sis Franks apt (that was when I drove for the first time in 6 months) and loaded all of her stuff to come move in with me. Yea, pretty lucky that I didn't have to move. Truly a blessing with all the schtuff I have accumulated. (Not that that would be a surprise to anyone). And then we drove back to the temple apts and moved her in... Then we worked at the VC after I gave a LENGTHY description and instructions for the sisters staying in Santa Monica. I want them to take care of my peeps, of course. They are in good hands, that's for sure.

The real treat was Saturday because the days before we had little appt's here and there, and then worked at the VC but Saturday we had from 3-9 in the area and we had 2 girls from the UCLA ward with us. We went tracting in Beverly Hills. Um. Scary. We got yelled at a bit. But then Sis Franks and I tracted an apt building on Campus and I met a girl who is a broadway performer so of COURSE we hit it off. We are going back in a couple weeks and hopefully she will want to read the Book of Mormon. She was way cool. It was a tender mercy from the Lord to meet her because we had had NO success, NO one would talk to us, and then this lovely performer talked to us for like 20 minutes and she and I really did become friends. She is darling and said she would come to the VC in a couple weeks. She saw "Next to Normal" here in LA an said my friend Preston did a FANTASTIC Job! (Linz- send Preston a message and tell him that. And that I love him. And that I am sad I missed him all 3 times he tried to visit me. Such a bummer). It made me so proud of my dear friend Preston. LOVE YOU PRESTY! Anyways, so fun to meet her. Her name is Julie Garnye and she has stuff on youtube if you wanna check it out.

Lets see.

Oh I got a lovely surprise visit from Jeremiah at the VC! It was so fun to see him. And his friend Greg which was way fun to meet him too. So much fun.

OK conference. MAN!!!! It was AWESOME and I'm sure you all agree. I seriously was so exhausted after every session because of how strong I felt the spirit throughout. I LOVED Elder Oaks talk about desire. I LOVED Richard G Scotts talk and I just want someone to love me someday like he loves his wife. So sweet.I definitely teared in that one. I LOVED Elder Holland's talk (of course). I am just so grateful for revelation. The fact that these men can talk about things that might not exactly apply to what I need (how to help Bel Air, for example) but I can receive answers and "tips" through the spirit to guide me is an absolute testimony to me that these men are called of God and have a responsibility and sacred calling to give us that guidance. I hope we were all able to understand what we can do better, differently, and change. I learned a LOT about who I am, what I want to become, and how I can become that person. I am so far away from the person I want to be, but thanks to the Atonement, I can inch toward that person. And just like Elder Bednar taught, sometimes it is actually a inch forward. Which can be very frustrating, but we must be patient with ourselves and allow ourselves an opportunity to grow through adversity. That was a HUGE subject throughout and I really believe and have a testimony in that principle. We really are refined as an outcome of our weakest, hardest and darkest experiences. How grateful I am for the atonement. Whew. I could go on all day.

We went to the BEACH today! Don't tell President. Just kidding, he was there, and so were a lot of other missionaries. We had a "beach p-day". SO those of you who are expecting a reply to a letter, I wasn't able to write today because our rules changed and we are no longer allowed to write letters while working at the VC and I was playing volleyball at the beach, not writing letters sorry :( . But I love you all! And guess what? I definitely saw my favorite AVP and Olympics champion Walsh practicing today at the beach. I can't remember her first name. But she was there. With her 12 pack abs. No worries.

Well I think that is all for today. I am so happy to be a missionary! I love you all very very much, thank you for your support, love, prayers, friendship, thoughts, lives, smiles,... Whatever.

XOXO (Ps RWLJ and my Mom are now pen pals. And RWLJ thinks its so adorable that my Mom writes xoxox on all of her e-mails, so he now does it too. Haha)
Sista Brink