Monday, May 30, 2011

June Gloom

Apparently things get kind of chilly here in June. So they call it "June Gloom" and then in July the Sun comes out-a-shinin. So I'll let you know how the June Gloom goes.

Speaking of June. Can you believe it's almost JUNE?! I surely can't. It's nuts. The year is almost halfway over and it seems like New Years was like 3 days ago. But then that cant be because so very much has happened since then.

Lets see. This week was chalk full. We had Zone Conference on Wednesday which was fantastic. It was frustrating getting there because W2 (my GPS) took us to the wrong building like 10 miles away (a long ways for LA traffic) and so we were all frazzled. I HATE getting lost. Especially in LA. Which is why I have W2. Don't judge me. At least I get places when I need to get there while other missionaries stare at a map. It's a huge time saver.

Anyways. Zone Conference.

Our mission President- Pres Baker- and his amazing wife always give these talks that just make me want to do a jig. Sometimes I do. Just in my seat. Sis Baker talked about the Holy Ghost. I wish I had my notes with me so that I could give you some of her genius. Listening to and following the promptings of the Holy Ghost is something that I have really been trying to do my whole mission. I have had some few insights about it that have really helped me...
1) The Spirit is not a huge thing, it REALLY is a still small voice.
2) TRUST that an insight that you receive, a thought, or an impression IS from the Spirit. Don't worry about if it is your thoughts or not. Just trust that it is the Spirit, because it is.
3) The Spirit is ALWAYS there if we allow it to be there by keeping the commandments etc, BUT sometimes we have to make our own choice. The Spirit will verify if it is the right decision or not.
4) BEING WORTHY OF THE SPIRIT IS SO IMPORTANT! We NEED the spirit SO badly in our lives. Whatever is tempting to do that would drive the spirit away is so not worth it, although it seems like it is. (Kind of like how Linz and I used to try the whole "Is this brownie more important to me than being skinny" and to be honest, it usually was! So... bad example... being worthy of the spirit really is worth it haha)

I've had a lot more, I'm sure, but that is all about the Holy Ghost for now. President Baker talked about "honoring our fathers" where he talked about honoring our earthly fathers, the fathers referred to in the book of Mormon and then our Heavenly Father. (Of course when he started about the Earthly Fathers I looked at a friend- Elder Wood- and mouthed "great" because he is one that I always tease about me not having a Dad... you know me... Anyways, he rolled his eyes at me. Haha) It was really powerful. Made me really think about who I am, what I am doing as a missionary, and why. And it comes down to this : I am a child of God, I am finding His children who don't know they are His children, and I am doing this because I love God. Even though it is hard and knocking on gigantic houses in Beverly Hills is the scariest thing in the world. Even when they are showbiz people and have lots of fun toys in their yard (ask me about Kung Foo Panda in 9 months or so. Funnny Story.)

We talked a lot about finding too. How to find people who are prepared to receive the Gospel. It's not a piece of cake, let me tell you, but the Lord really does place people in your path if you are sincerely looking and willing to jump out of your comfort zone (and quite literally jump out and stop someone in their tracks.)

There isn't really anything new to report on. We have 2 investigators preparing for baptism this month which is really really exciting. The most amazing thing about being a missionary is being able to form a bond with people and witness their miraculous change happen. Such an amazing thing.

Zoe and Todd: YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW HARD I WAS LAUGHING AT THAT LETTER! I love you both! Miss you

Hallie: Thank you for the box! Ah! You're amazing.

Sis Cass: Response to come in the mail. My nails are brown and I am loving it. Thank you!

Thank you everyone for your support and love and prayers. I am so grateful to have such amazing people in my life!

Sis Brinkerhoff

Monday, May 23, 2011

OH my life.

My life is so funny right now. I am a missionary in Los Angeles California. I drove through Korea town today, where everything was in Korean and then 2 minutes later was in the heart of Beverly Hills where nothing is in Korean. I meet people from everywhere in the US who seem to know ONE Brinkerhoff and they want us to be related. I where a skirt every day. I wear crocks. I talk to people about Jesus Christ who seem like they want to cut me open and eat me for dinner. I get to have seriously cool experiences every day. I get to read the Book of Mormon every day. I wake up at 6:30 every day. I write down a miracle every day. I cry often. I am training a brand new missionary who is probably going to mimic everything I do, so I better shape up. I think that these 19 year old, awkward, dorky Elders are the greatest thing ever. I sing "whenever I hear" to people all the time, instead of a Broadway song. And it's way better. I love my life.

I am not sure even what to write about today. There is a lot going on in my brain. And I only want to focus on the good and the positive, not the frustrating or the unsure.

Deanne. She is the classiest lady since Elizabeth Taylor. She has curly sassy hair and LOVES my curls. She is reading the Book of Mormon, she doesn't love the writing. We watched "The Joseph Smith Movie" and she said it was propaganda (HA!). She wanted to stop meeting with us, but with a few questions, some good listeners, and her own self discoveries, she said she would keep reading and praying. She loves us. She thinks we are the greatest things since sliced bread. We sang for her and she talked to us for 20 minutes about how we need to have an act. Like Velma Kelly and Roxy. (Sis Bodily and I do sound good together if I do say so myself... She has a cool jazzy sound) And she told us she would be our designers. Because that's what she does. She is a fashion lady. So of course she and I hit it off. She even gave me some curl cream. I love her. Pray for Deanne. She is amazing and needs this! I mean, don't we all?

Kaz. Wants to get baptized June 4th. We are unsure of her readiness... taking it up with the Lord. Although she really won't have it any other way because she sincerely believes this is where God wants her. And I sincerely believe that I would struggle to let her be baptized without a 100% "I know this is true"... Although she believes that will come. And it will. But ideally that happens before the baptism... Pray for Kaz. I love her so much and just want what is best for her.

Megan's confirmation was yesterday and it was so lovely. She is going to make the best Relief Society president someday. And I want to be in her ward.

Hey guess what?! The world didn't end! Ha. That was a funny thing over here in LA. People were legitimately scared. I guess I would have been too. Oh how grateful I am for the Gospel and for the Book of Mormon. And the Doctrine and Covenants. And a prophet. And that if the end happens in the next 9 months, Im just a hop skip and a jump away from the temple. So... I guess I am pretty lucky.

I am almost done with the Old Testament. It was a new years goal to read the entire standard works and it has taken me 5 months to get to Songs of Solomon. Don't judge me, the Old testament is HARD! But I really have been loving it. I love reading it and having realizations that the Bible is good proof that we needed the Book of Mormon. I am excited to get into the New Testament though.

My companion and I are learning Spanish. She was called Spanish speaking, and I for some crazy reason decided when I got here that I would learn. So we are learning together. We practice often and I am trying to give Spanish tours at the Visitors Center. It's kind of funny because the people sometimes just like to help me, which is great. They love seeing me try. Probably because it's hilarious. But the native speakers say I sound pretty good. How many words I know is another story... I'll keep practicing. I love it. I think I will keep studying it after the mission. Maybe change my major to Spanish. Just kidding. But seriously.

Miracle of miracles. Heather Burgess was here at the Visitors Center. And told me her family was getting sealed. I was choked up all day about it. I LOVE her and was so happy to hear about that for her family! (ps. Heather and I became good friends at BYU... that's how I know her :) I kept using her family as an example in my tours all day. And all day I was thinking "that's what it is all about". Completely what it is all about.

We had a mini missionary with us this weekend! Sister Hepworth. She was a doll. She was so funny. We hit it off after we both discovered we like Joanna Nussim (no idea how to spell that) and we started singing her songs and it was really funny. Took me back to when I would listen to those songs. Looong time ago. Anyways. It was fun to have her around. I don't think she totally loved being in church for 6 hours on Sunday though. We have 2 wards, so when our Visitors Center Schedule allows, we go  to both. It's a long time to be at church. But great.

I don't think I have anything else to report on... Things are going really well. I am so happy to be a missionary. The Gospel IS true. Without a doubt.

The Pictures are of me and my boyfriend, Aidan, who is the son of one of my dearest friends that I made at the VC and then Sis Bodily and I and our Mini missionary.

Sista Brink

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Labor was difficult, but I have a happy, healthy, 21 year old girl...

Yep, that's right. I'm a Mom. Can you believe it? The contractions were mild, but I made it through ok. Haha. Silly mission lingo. Sister Bodily is from Kamas, UT. She is adorable. I feel so bad for her all the time because I remember what it was like to be a new missionary... Just crazy busy all the time and wondering if you are ever going to get the hang of this. No fun at all. She was called Spanish speaking, so when President asked me to train, it was also a "And she is Spanish speaking... so... you better keep learning Spanish..." Which is just kind of funny. So we are practicing as much as we can, but we need to practice more. Life as a missionary really just gets crazier and crazier and crazier. It never ever slows down. We get along great. She is super quiet and sweet, and I'm... well... not so quiet and I guess I can be sweet if I want. I am more brass than sweet haha. But we have a great balance and she is awesome. I'm learning so much from her all ready.

Being a trainer is an interesting thing... I'm constantly worried about how obedient we are being and how well I am helping her adjust and everything. She is doing fine, but I can totally relate to being brand new and just wondering how in the heck I was going to survive 18 months of this. And now I'm wondering what I am going to do when this is all over because it's just too much fun.

Megans baptism was Saturday and it was amazing. Really. we had a great turn out, mostly missionaries because she was taught by so many, and everyone was so supportive of her and everything. I am so happy for her. She is so excited and her testimony was fantastic. Totally made me cry.

So we had a crazy crazy preparation day so I am actually out of time all ready because I didn't plan very well... so this is all for today. I know it's short, but deal with it.

(Dear Mom: I didn't get to write you a hand written letter today :( I'm so sorry. Our zone activity took 2 hours and so I didn't have any spare time. I really am sorry. I love you so much and miss you!

Sista Brink

p.s. the pictures are at Megan's baptism... she is amazing. The Elders are the other set of Elders that taught her.

Monday, May 9, 2011

El Dia de Madres

It was SO wonderful to talk to my Momma yesterday. It's so funny how it's SO anticipated, and then its over before you know it. BUT nonetheless, really great to tell my Momma that I love her. And Linz and Ty and the boys, and of course my Joe Joe. Who will soon no longer be MY joe joe... but someone else s. But that's ok, soon I will just have a Joe Joe and a Ja Ja (for Jamie... Congrats you guys!). I loved saying hello to Chan Chan and Haleigh girl too. And of course the quick hello to my sweet Jayne. I love you all! I missed the others that couldn't make it, but I totally understand the business of your lives! Know that I love you all and think of you often.

The first thing my Mom said was "You know that you can come home honorably at any time, right?". Thanks Mom, I did know that. And I think I'll stay. This is too good, in so many ways. Even the hard ways, this is too good.

Let's see. What to write about this week. I wish I could say this whole explain-everything-that-happened-to-you- in-40-minutes thing would get easier as the months go by, but they DON'T! News flash. I'm am becoming a killer typer though. And I was pretty good before...

So this week is transfers. So crazy. I'm about to begin my 6th transfer! And I only have 12 total! AGH! SLOW DOWN TIME. I'm not sure what is going to happen. I got a call from President saying he wanted to see me tonight which could mean a couple things... but I'm not sure what is going to happen. Tune in next week to see :) I really can't believe this transfer is all ready gone. I have to be honest, this transfer was the hardest one yet for sure. Lots of stress with a new area, a HUGE area at that with a LOT of people who don't exactly love missionaries coming to their door, a lot of great people that we are teaching with a lot of issues to work through, personal doubt and frustration with myself... just a hard transfer. And on top of that, I've gotten to the point that I never thought I'd get to: I just don't care about what I look like anymore. SO on top of being a tad stressed, I look really bad for the most part. But it's ok, because I'm on the Lord's Errand, right? I can look better when I get home. (hopefully... I will need some serious help...)

Megan is doing really well. Her baptism is this Saturday! We are going to have to "cram" some lessons though because she has been in and out of town and we've had a hard time getting together. But all will be fine. Her boyfriend, Justin, is baptizing her and we are just so excited for her. She is really happy about it. I hope there is a good turnout from the UCLA ward. She's awesome and I'm so excited for her.

Kaz... is... amazing. She is so cool. Yesterday, she came to church and it was hard. It was super noisy and there were a lot of kids sitting right in front of us and I thought Kaz was going to eat one of them (she even said she was about to punch something... haha shes so funny). Kaz really doesn't want to do this just to fit a mold, so we are trying to help her understand that this is NOT about joining a religion or becoming "mormon". This is about following Jesus Christ and becoming clean through his atonement. She is progressing, although she is frustrated that God isn't answering her prayers. We talked a lot about prayer yesterday and why we pray the way we do. It is definitely an adjustment for her. She wants to do things HER way, but she completely accepts the fact that God is not going to let that happen because He wants things done HIS way. I think we can all relate to that a bit. It will be amazing the transformation that happens when she trully succumbs her will to the Lords.

I had a neat experience at the Visitors Center with a couple Elders and their investigator. Elisha doesn't really know if God is there... She feels like she has done everything on her own, and she has been through some HARD things. She said she doesn't really think she needs God, that she is fine and she doesn't need to know what happens after this life, that she is content just being. But I could tell differently. I could really see that she was putting on a huge front that she was fine even though inside she was screaming. At the beginning, she was very closed off, didn't really want to open up, but then we got to talking and I really felt like I should be very bold to her. I said "I know you think you are fine... and it is truly amazing that you have come out of those hard things... But I have to be bold. You are not fine. You are broken and only God can put the pieces back together. You have to let him. You have to find out if he is there and give Him a chance to heal you." It was really crazy because I was looking into her eyes, and I felt so strongly that that was what I needed to say to her. Tears welled in both of our eyes and by the end of the time we had together, she had decided she would pray to know if He was there. I truly believe that God will show her he is there and she will be so blessed. Tender mercy.
 Jeremiah stopped in to say goodbye before he takes off on his cruise. Always great to see people who I love. I love hearing about the success all of my dear friends are having! Congrats to everyone, I love and miss you all. (Brittany Bowman I want a letter please :) Good luck to Jer. Don't you forget what we talked about.

Not sure what else to talk about so I think I will close. I am so grateful to be a missionary. I was telling my Mom... "I know that you know that this is hard sometimes. But the good totally outweighs the hard because this is so worth the rough days!" And that is totally true. I love being a missionary and I love the things I am learning. I love the Book of Mormon. Read it everyday.

Sista Brink

Monday, May 2, 2011

May Has Begun.... What?!

I am truly amazed that it is May. People keep coming in from BYU and I say "So are you just here for the weekend? Is there a break on Monday?" And they say "No, the semester is over!" And it blows my mind every time. I can't believe I've all ready been here for 2 semesters... My time at school NEVER went as fast as it has gone here. Redonkulous.

So do you remember the story in Alma where Alma and Amulek are in prison in Ammonihah and they have to watch all of the wives and children of the believers burn? Amulek says something very interesting that really stuck out to me this week (it actually ALWAYS sticks out to me, so maybe I wrote about it before... I love Alma 14). So as they are watching them burn, Amulek suggests that they "stretch forth their hands and exercise the power of God... and save them from the flames." but then Alma, oh Alma... What a guy..., says "The spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mine hand, for behold the Lord receiveth them up unto himself in glory. And he doth suffer that they may do this thing, or that the people may do this thing unto them, according to the hardness of their hearts..." and then Amulek says, in what I think a serious cry, "Behold perhaps they will burn us also." And then Alma says "Be it according to the will of the Lord. But behold, our work is not finished; therefore they burn us not."

Ok so why does this stick out to me every time I read it? There are a few reasons and a lot of it has to do with whats been going on for Sista Brink in LA.

Sometimes, we have to sit back and let things happen the way the Lord wants them to happen. EVEN if they are hard. Even if we are watching the most awful thing happen, sometimes we must be "constrained" like Alma and trust that the Lord will take care of everything. That takes a LOT of faith. The Lords plan is SO much bigger than ours. And we just have to trust it! That is why we are here, to trust the plan that the Lord has given us. Alma let them suffer because he knew that it was part of God's plan... He let them suffer to receive something greater than just surviving a fire that some really bad people put them in. That something greater is Eternal Life! And so it is in our lives. We have to get through the hard things, to receive the greater things. Kind of like the "good better best" principle that Dallin H. Oaks talked about in Conference a while back. So then Amulek wants to take the easy road because it seems to hard to bear. He wants to just die with them. That would be the easier thing to do than to watch THEM die and to keep on going and living. How many times do we want the easier way? I know I want it ALL of the time. I want the effects, without the work. But then Alma, wise Alma, says " behold, our work is not finished." He knew that there was more people to help, more things to do, more lessons to learn. He knew that God had great things in store, rather than shrinking and allowing his "fire" to destroy him. Nothing, not even watching people that he loved and cared about burn, would keep him from accomplishing the will of the Lord. We all have our fires! And sometimes it would be easier to just let it burn us to a crisp. But the higher road, and the sometimes harder road, is what will bring us true happiness. What a story. I LOVE IT! I hope you understood what I was saying...

This story really relates to a gal we are teaching. She is amazing. She is really at a point in her life where she knows the will of the Lord is that she be here, with us, learning about God. (She calls herself an SOG, Student of God, and it's really funny. She's super witty. So of course I love her. I love witty people) She says her "resources are all dried up" and that that is why she meets with us, that is why she came to church yesterday even though it really is the LAST thing she WANTS to do. She is truly having a change of heart because she is doing the will of the Lord. With the things she has had to deal with in her life, it would have been really easy for her to just say "Nah... I'll just let the fire burn me. It might hurt for a second, but then it will all be over... who cares..." but she didn't. She has trusted the feelings that she has felt in talking to a member friend of hers and knows that God wants her, and he wants her badly. I know God wants her too! She is bright, smart, and extremely honest (sometimes a little brutally, like yesterday when she figured out how to shrink sacrament down 30 minutes... it was funny). She is starting to break down walls and starting to open up to us and I am just so grateful to be able to teach her. In our lesson on Saturday, she had a hard time looking at me and was like squinting her eyes and then she was like "I'm sorry I'm looking at you funny, it's just that you are SO bright! I seriously can't look at you because it hurts my eyes!" which was something I had never ever ever had anyone say to me before. She recognizes the spirit SO well and describes it SO well using words like dense, thick, heavy, natural high... She's super artsy so I love her even more. In church yesterday, I could tell she was uncomfortable and having an inner battle of "I know God wants me to be here. But I hate this. So I will stick it out" so I showed her a scripture in the Old Testament about fighting battles, and how they aren't really OUR battles to fight, but Gods. She read it, looked at me sort of broken-like, and then just touched her heart. THAT is why I am here. She is preparing for Baptism on June 4th.

Megan is doing really well. She is just smooth sailin towards her baptism on May 14th. Her boyfriend is coming up from Salt Lake to baptize her which is way neat. She is just amazing. She's my friend.

Yesterday was one of the most special evenings of my mission. A while ago, I met a girl at the Visitors Center named Ashley. She had the most adorable kids and we talked for a really long time and really connected and had a lot to relate to each other. Come to find out, her husband, Mike, was in the teaching room with Sisters Hanselman and Green and was investigating the church but was VERY slowly moving along. Ashley and I just had a great talk and I really love her. So THEN I got to know them a little bit more as they came back for lessons with the Sisters. This was back in January probably. Then Sister Hanselman and Green asked me if I would do a lesson for them, just singing and talking about the songs I sang because Mike was having a hard time recognizing the spirit and they thought maybe if he heard music it would help. So of course I was so happy to. It was a pretty neat experience. This was in the middle of March probably. The lesson was really spiritually packed, and then at the end, Mike said a prayer out loud (very rare for him) and it was SO cool! Just amazing, I was tearing up. At that point he was having a really hard time with tithing. Anyways, so then I get this text probably 3 weeks ago that was forwarded from Ashley asking if I would sing "Savior Redeemer" at Mikes Baptism May 1st. UM DUH! of COURSE I was SO thrilled to do that. The baptism was truly amazing. PACKED because the ward has just been so excited for Mike. Ashley was less active when they got married and its just amazing to see them now. His testimony at the end was SO sincere, so touching, so genuine. Truly amazing. I was so grateful to be a little part of it. At the end, Mike said "Sister Brinkerhoff. That night you sang really paved the way for me to decide to get baptized. There was somehting about that song, and then "I know that my redeemer lives" that really touched me and I KNEW that was the Spirit. Thank you". One of those things I will never ever forget. Ever.
SO. I was 6 feet away from Elder L. Tom Perry. And THEN I was on the stand with him because I lead the music at the Mission Conference. He is AMAZING! And SO huge! Seriously such a big man. And so sweet to his wife, Barbara. They were just the cutest thing. He talked about the 5 points that Elder Holland talked about for the Worldwide training thing. It was pretty incredible how strong the spirit was when he walked in. Man. I took seriously good notes, don't worry.

This has turned in to a super long email. Yesterday, Nina and Janette and Nina's friend-boy Chris came to the Visitors Center! I saw them outside and just ran and gave them a hug. It was SO much fun to see them. Oh my goodness. I love them so much.

Welllllllll I think I will check out for now. I get to talk to my Momma in 7 days. That's the greatest news EVER!

I love you all. This gospel is so very very real and so very very true. I KNOW that.

Sista Brink