Monday, June 27, 2011

Round Three in Bel Air

Yep, transfer number 7 will be spent in Bel Air! My 3rd one, and I am so happy that I stayed. I love the craziness and the people we are teaching way too much to leave. It should be a great couple of months.

Santa came into the Visitors Center! Truly. See attached picture. He is REAL and whoever says he's not, you will be held accountable. I met him. He had rosy cheeks, a belly, and a cute little nose. And his laugh was completely Santa-fied. He was here, I am proof that he is real.

Things are going really well! Skeema is really amazing. She sent us a SUPER nice text this week, telling us how God sent us to her, which is SO unlike Skeema! It is amazing to see someone transform. She has a hard time seeing it in herself, but she truly is evidence of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  A girl in the WW 1st ward and she are buddies. They do everything together, including talking about the Gospel. She  is really good at communicating with Skeema, because she is rather difficult to communicate with because of how smart and logical she is about everything. She is out of town for a couple weeks though, so hopefully she will be baptized the 16th if all goes well. I want to be her and wear her clothes. On my right leg, cause she is TINY

UCLA had another baptism this week! We will call her K-Money. She is incredible. The Elders taught her, but Sis Bodily and I really got to know her well also and we just love her so much. If there is anyone who loves their Savior and SHOWS it, it is K-Money. She really had to sacrifice a lot to be baptized, including family relationships. But she is so faithful and knows that all will be well, that the Book of Mormon is true and so everything else will fall into place. I was able to speak at her baptism, about baptism and I was kind of a spaz to be honest, but what do you expect? I covered her hand in shaving cream and put cookies in it... long story... but I hope it was a memorable experience. I'm sure it can't NOT be haha.

Quadra is doing great! She really wants to be baptized. We are just waiting to make sure all the family is on board. It was great for her to see K-Money's baptism, and she is really excited for hers. Pres White wants to meet her this week, so we need to arrange for that and then we will go from there. We ate at Quiznos together the other day and after I said a little prayer on my food, she was starting to eat and then without me even saying anything (cause really praying at every meal is very much a missionary thing.... like even in restaurants and everything. Not really expected of a civilian) she said "I am going to pray now" and it just made my little heart so happy. She is such an amazing person.

Granny G. is the sweetest thing. She is really lonely, and really wants a social life so we have been trying to introduce her to as many people at church as we can. She set a baptismal date for July 30th which is very exciting because our first couple of lessons she said over and over again "I don't want to be baptized". She is reading and praying, which is the secret ingredient. Surprise surprise! She came to church and during the Gospel Principles class, I was asked to explain fast offerings. So I did, and then Granny G said "do I give you money now?" and started reaching for her money bag. Haha. She is adorable.

We have a couple new/potential investigators too that we will hopefully be able to meet with this week. Things are going well over here in Bel air! Lots of work to do, and we are working our hardest.

One of the things I love about LA is the randomness of it. Yesterday, we were outside waiting for Granny G to come, and this woman looked very lost so I tried to talk to her and soon realized that she didn't speak any English and was from the Ukraine. So I told her the 5 words I know in Russian (thanks, my Russian speaking friends! It's quite handy to know how to count to 10 haha) and then basically dragged her into the church and she came to Gospel Principles. SO in that class we had an Italian, a Ukrainian, a Salvadorian, a German (he had come to the Visitors Center wanting to know where church was. And he left us his info to give to the missionaries there! And wants to be baptized!) and then a bunch of white folk. It was awesome. Me and the Woman from Ukraine drew pictures back and forth to try to communicate. It was hilarious. And then out of nowhere, she just up and left. Haha. Hopefully she felt the spirit though, since she couldn't understand anything. She smiled a lot though. Priceless moments.

Not sure what else to update... things are going so great. Lots to do in Bel Air. You are all wonderful, thank you for everythingggggggggg
Sista Brink

1: Elder Tarati who was with us for a week while waiting for the Volcano to clear in Australia. Good luck! And Elder Kenny and Sis Bodily and I. Elder Kenny is the best.
2: SANTA. It really is him, promise.
3: K-Money's baptism
5.  Good-bye Elder Wood.  He was such a trip.  He will be missed.  

Monday, June 20, 2011

9 Months Along, and Showing.

I have officially hit my 9 month out mark. Sis Cannon and Mortensen and I are all ready to pop... Man, it's been a hard labor. Hopefully I can lose the baby weight fast. I've got 9 more months of miracles, laughs, tears, not enough sleep, callused knees (yes, from praying. I was going to include a picture but then I thought that would be weird. I have a huge brown spot on both of my knees. "God answers knee-mail", right Mom? Well what happens when your knees get a little too comfortable with the carpet? It's gross. I will have a serious hay-day with a pumice stone in about 8 and a half months.), wonderful people, scary people, bad hair, skirts, discoveries, revelations, tender mercies, and love. I am the luckiest gal around.

Speaking of that. I really am so blessed. My old companion, remember sister Morty? She committed me to only saying gratitude prayers. To not ask for anything, only say what I am grateful for. It's been a really neat experience because I realize that a lot of the time my prayers are very demanding! GIVE ME GIVE ME! (did you ever read Berenstein Bears? There is one called Gimme Gimme... It used to be my favorite. Which is ironic because I was totally that kid who would cry in the store for everything... I guess I didn't really learn anything from the book.) There is a story, written by Sister Holland,  in a like prelude to a  talk my Mom sent me called "The Inconvenient Messiah" by Jeffrey R Holland (in fact, Mom, I lost it, can you send it again? I think the cleaners threw it away cause I left it at the center) about a girl who loses a campaign at school. When she comes home, her Mom is ready to give her a hug and take her shopping or something but the little girl says, can we pray? So of course they do. And the little girl says something to the effect of: "I know this wasn't the way you wanted me to serve, so I will do what you want me to do. You don't have to be my servant anymore. I'm ready to be yours." Ouch, right? And that's how I feel right now. I'm done being demanding for the things I need. I am ready to be a dedicated servant. Ok not that I haven't been for 9 months but I'm just re-focusing on my purpose as a missionary. Don't judge.

I can't believe its a new transfer in a couple days.  That is nuts. It amazes me how fast this time goes, when thinking about 18 months before I came seemed like a LOOOONG time. Now it seems way too short.

I love being a missionary. It is so wonderful. HARD, but wonderful. I've realized a lot about myself this week in understanding that I can do as much as I can do, the best that I know how, and then trust that it is enough. There is no measure, check list, or person that can measure my progress or my effectiveness. The only one who I can truly account to is the Lord, and at the end of the day if I have given all that I could, tried my very hardest, and served well then I can trust that He has accepted that work and I don't need to stress about it. I'm definitely learning how to be less hard on myself. If I hit the pillow at 10:30 and am out cold until 6:00 (we read in Spanish in the mornings for 20 minutes... ) then I know I worked hard.

We are very blessed in Bel Air. Skeema is progressing, still slowly, and is very adamant about not needing to pray about the Book of Mormon because she says she is doing this anyway, so what difference does it make? But she keeps her commitments, comes to church, is reading, and is very fascinated by the history of the book of Mormon, but a spiritual witness of its truth is lacking. She seriously cracks me up every time we are together. She wants to go on a South American trip to find all of the might-be sights for the Book of Mormon. I might have pinky swore that we would do it.... So I guess I gotta do it.

We have a new investigator, we will call her Granny G,  who is a 70 year old Italian woman. She really loves us a lot, and we have just fallen in love with her too. Our first 2 lessons she said over and over again that she didn't want to be baptized. In our last lesson she said she would think about it. She is really funny. We are hoping to get some of the ladies in the ward involved with her progression. She always grabs on to our arms and says how grateful she is for us coming to see her. We randomly went to see her on an evening at like 8:45 and she was in her night gown and said "come back later" and we did, and now she is our adopted granny. She is adorable.

I got to see RWLJ this week and it was such a tender mercy. He told a story of a man in his new ward calling him minutes after RWLJ was having some doubts about things and was slightly frustrated. And then a phone call! And now RWLJ has a buddy, home teachers, and feels comfortable in his ward. AND he knows that God answers prayers because that was a huge answer. I was completely teary when he told me... So grateful for the Brother in his ward who followed a prompting to call my RWLJ. RWLJ sent this to my Mom that also made me feel so wonderful:

"Talked with Robert Webster Light JR. the other day.  He called in the am and got the voice mail so he called back  the next day.  We talked about your mid-mission crisis because he had read your blog and he said he was going to comment that the first half of your mission was worth it because you brought the gospel to him.  and he even quoted "the bring just one soul unto him" statement.  He said he was worth your hard work.

I love that RWLJ has taken on my Fatherly figure. He comes to check on me, make sure I am sleeping enough, getting fruits and vegetables, and that I'm not too stressed. How sweet is he.

Speaking of Fathers... I really have been grateful for experiences that have made me think of how great my Dad was. I met this man at the Visitors Center a couple weeks ago who knew my dad and my mom wrote this to me about it:

"The other morning I answered the phone about 7;30 and it was a Brother Priday?  I think that was his name.  He worked for Banner hospitals and knew Dad, but called to tell me how wonderful you were with his 22 priests he brought over there for a super activity.  He just went on and on about your spirit and how you really touched those boys.  He said he was endeared to you because he liked Dad so much and just knew how proud Dad would be of you.  He just couldn't believe you are so amazing...he just went on and on.  I am so proud of you and know your Dad is too.  I wish you could see yourself the way we all see you as AMAZING..."

I would definitely take that as a tender mercy. Little notes to me that my Dad loves me, that Heavenly Father loves my Dad, and that he was a great man. Last night, I was writing in my journal about my Dad and I looked to my right where there is a picture of him on my wall and I got teary. I know my Dad is so proud of me for being here and sometimes I wish I could hear him say that, and I wonder what kind of effect it could have had on our relationship to be able to write back and forth. BUT I also know that Heavenly Father is in charge and that my Dad is being taken care of. We have to do our part over here on this side of the veil to make it possible to see each other again. I love you, Dad.

Sis Bodily and I are doing great! I love her a lot. We get along great, and are trying to practice espanol as much as possible. Reading together in the Book of Mormon and trying to practice at the Visitors Center and such.

I don't think I really have anything else to report on. I got a wonderful blessing this week from Elder Wood who I really respect and appreciate. It was really wonderful. Everything that was said was exactly what I needed to hear. The priesthood is amazing.

I have the bestest friends and family in the world. I love you all!

Sista Brink

Sis Cannon, Mortensen and I, 9 Months MISSIONARY work!

- Elder Isaacson and his investigators who I LOVE at the departing fireside. So good to see them.

Monday, June 13, 2011

I Am a Child of God

And Heeeee has sent me heeeeeeeere.

But really. I am. And so are you. Isn't that amazing? We are literal children of a King. THE king. Our Father in Heaven created us.

I am learning more about this principle now than I have in my entire life.  And it has nothing to do with me, but everything to do with other people. I  know I am a child of God because I know that God loves these people who I am  working with. I feel for them. I want them to know how much He loves them, and in turn, I realize how much He loves me. I walk down the streets,  longing for someone to listen to us and want to learn more because I know that this will bless their life in more ways than I could ever explain to  them, and then I in turn learn about how it blesses my life because I can  bear testimony to the one person who listens. I watch other missionaries work and admire their ethic and love of this work, and then I want to work harder and the Lord blesses me for it. I wonder what I can do more, and then the Lord places a tender mercy in my path to let me know that I am doing  OK.  I think about my companion, she who just wants so badly to be a good missionary and then I in turn want to be better and realize that I can not achieve anything without God. I know, like Ammon, that we cannot do anything without the Lord. "I know that I am nothing. As to my strength I am weak;  therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength, I can do all things (Alma 26:12).

So what I am saying is: God has allowed me to understand my divine nature through other people.
It's an interesting thing I think. I have been a pretty independent person my whole life. I have never felt so dependent as now. I need others. I need to serve those who do not know and bring them to the truth. I need to learn from those whose testimonies I admire. I need the help of the Lord. I need  the Holy Ghost. I need prayer. I need study. I need challenges, because I need growth.

I memorized "The Fellowship of the Unashamed" this week and I want to say it everyday. My  favorite part is in the end. "I  won't give up, shut up, or let  up until I have stayed up, stored up and paid up for the cause of Christ. I  must go til he comes, give til I drop, preach til all know, and work till He stops me. And when He returns for His own He will have no problem  recognizing me. My banner will be clear. For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of GOD unto salvation to very one that believeth."

I love my Savior. And I will work hard to show Him how much I love Him. 

So. Things are... a tad interesting at the moment. A burst of frustration came out the other day. During our weekly planning session, I stood up, and I said "We have no investigators, everyone is leaving for summer, our pets HEADS ARE FALLING OFF!" Yes, I still quote Dumb and Dumber. Yes, we laughed for a really long time. Yes I feel as desperate as Lloyd. But it's not THAT bad... just interesting at the Moment.

 Skeema has moved her date to July now which is good, because we could use some more time. She is so funny. She has such an interesting story. I am learning so much from her. She is my little bird. (I'm Momma bird...) We have  a lot of fun. It is really amazing to see someone really dedicated to  giving up everything they know and want, even though it is very hard and doesn't seem very  appealing, because God wants you to. How often do I hold on to things because it would be easier to hold on to them than to give them to God? I'd rather not respond...

Quadra is great also. She might end up switching to the singles ward which would be ok. But I would miss her of course. We asked her the other day how she knew the Book of Mormon was true and she said "because I know that when  I read it, I will feel good and happy." I have been so blessed to teach such pure people on my mission.

  Speaking of pure people. I miss seeing RWLJ around. I'm glad he and Dar are buddies though. He is so wonderful. He makes sure to give me Paternal wisdom, you know, since I don't have a Dad anymore (come on... just laugh) which is so sweet. I'm lucky.

 Sis Bodily and I are doing great. Practicing espanol as much as we can,  talking as much as we can, and laughing as much as we can about how silly I am. She writes down everything funny that I say. I think she will have a  "Brinkerhoffism" book by the end of our time together. It's so funny because she seriously just listens to me and then laughs. I've said some pretty dumb  things, and only know it because she writes it down. Like the time we had this conversation:
  "I want to help the blinds."
  "Yeah the blinds."
  "You mean blind people?"
  "Yeah" "Well why didn't you say the BLIND?"
  "Well because there is more than one of them!"

  Be with it as you may. Point in case.

 Last night was the departing missionary fireside. I was luckyyyyy to be able  to go and play the piano for the musical numbers (usually, sisters can't go because we are usually working at the Visitors Center but I got special permission). It was a really neat thing to hear what all of the missionaries that are leaving had to say. To hear what they learned and what they will take with them. Made me think about what I will have to say when that day comes. Hopefully something good. Some of my goodest Elder friends are leaving... So long Elders! See you in the next life (post-mission life).

  This is long. I just have good things to say.

I am reading in Isaiah now. Wow. It's good. Isaiah 29 and 53 are incredible.  "For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee." Thanks to THE Rob Gardner, I can't read that without singing.  And I love to sing, so it works out nice.

  Dear Courtney. I always read every single word you ever write me. Don't  worry. Cars suck. I love you. I read it. I got the cards, I loved them. Jealous of the trip.

 I don't think I have anything else to say. I'm so glad to be a missionary. It's the greatest thing in the world. The funniest thing in the world too...
Mostly the greatest.

yo se que Jesu Cristo es mi salvador. Soy una missionara porque se que soy  una hija de Dios.

  Sista Brink

Monday, June 6, 2011

Mid Mission Crisis... You know... like a mid life crisis, only cooler

And the weeks go by.

Ok this is going to be a doozie. I call it, my "Mid Mission Crisis" (if you know me at all, you knew this was bound to happen at some point... I'm a little bit crazy and a tad of a perfectionist...)

I am almost at halfway and that stresses me out really bad. I've really been having a hard time because I worry that I haven't done anything in my first 9 months and that I definitely won't have time to accomplish all that I wanted to accomplish when I stepped off the plane at LAX! I really get down on myself when I feel like I haven't been as focused on my goals and things and I REALLY stress out if I feel as though I can't accomplish them. And then I just give up all together. It's frustrating. And then I have to pick back up again and start over.. I feel like I never really live up to the expectation I set for myself and that frustrates me. It's hard for me to see that the work I have done or am doing is "good enough" and always seeing something to improve on is very humbling, but also extremely overwhelming. I feel like I am always doing something wrong, or breaking a rule, or this or that when I know that I'm just doing the best I can. And usually, nothing is being "broken" it's just me and my perfectionist attitude worrying too much. I thought I would "get" this whole missionary work thing perfectly by now, but I am still learning and it's sort of a painful process. I'm just worried I won't become the person (she is extremely cool, balanced, smart, knowledgeable about the scriptures, very sure of herself and would never let anyone or anything get in the way of that, and most especially she knows and loves the Lord and has a seriously cool testimony of the Atonement.  no big thang, right?)  I wanted to become in these short 18 months. Or worse, I will go home the exact same person I was before I came. I think I know deep down that that is impossible. I live with myself 24/7 (tough job, trust me... its exhausting to be me) so maybe I don't see the changes. I know that 9 months away is far, but actually I'm realizing that time goes so fast as a missionary and there is so much to be done and I worry that I don't have enough time. I try to work as hard as I can, I am trying to be the best missionary possible, I am trying to accomplish my goals, I am trying so hard to be a good trainer, and I try to not let my own frustrations get in the way of the work, but trying is all I can do. And I am.

Trials are a funny thing. I love em' and I hate em'. Not sure why some trials are the trials that they are and why the people who have them are the people who have them. But what I do know is this: The gospel of Jesus Christ is real. It is true. The Book of Mormon is true.

{grab a tissue here. And get over it}-- my inner conversation. I vented, it's done. I'm moving forward.

SO for confidentiality sake (they really don't want us using names of investigators... understandable) The names of the people I will be talking about have been changed. And yes, I had fun changing their names.
Things are going well. Skeema is progressing really amazingly. She still doesn't quite have a solid "I- know- this- is- true-without-a-question" testimony but she is feeling the spirit more and more at church and is starting to really branch out. I just love her so much. And she loves food, which is hilarious. And she talks about it all of the time which is even more hilarious. And she's got the cutest little body, which is just unfair, not hilarious at all. It is the most amazing thing to see someone give up an entire past life and move forward towards Christ. She is an incredible human being and I am so grateful to be even just a small part of her transformation process.
Quadra is progressing also. She is set on being baptized the end of this month, but we do have to make sure her parents are OK with it. She is so pure and innocent, I wanna be like that. She's adorable and we love her. She also really loves Yogurtland which is not great because so do I and it's getting a little out of control. She almost just expects that we will go there every time we see her. But her Dr. said she has to lose weight, so that will change. Thank heavens. I think I started growing a Yogurtland Limb. And I'm fine with the limbs I have.

 Sis Bodily and I are doing great. Both learning and improving together. She is a wonderful human being and is really starting to love missionary work. I have been humbled and humbled and humbled through this training experience. We are practicing spanish as much as possible and trying to do tours at the Visitors Center in spanish too.It's so funny because the people just love watching me try to speak. Haha. But at least I am trying, right? Thats the best I can do.  I really do love the language. I think I will continue to study it after the mission.

We did a lot of finding in Beverly Hills this week. It is seriously the funniest thing. We are driving around the hills, and like 6 "starline" busses drive by with people who paid to be on a bus with the roof cut off to try and spot some stars. There were moments, though, when we would see a HUGE house and wonder who lived there and then the bus would drive by and stop in front of the house and I would want to say "Who are you looking for? Who lives here?!" But I refrained to try and keep focused on my calling, not on the possibility of seeing P Diddy. Who definitely lives in Beverly Hills. I want to go back and watch "cribs" episodes because I'm pretty sure I have seen a lot of those houses. And they are unreal. But I have to say, I never ever ever ever want to live in Beverly Hills, although the views are breathtaking and the houses are absolutely stunning. But I couldn't live there. And I actually don't think anyone who lives there actually wants to either because they are NEVER HOME.

Well I think that is all for today.
 Sista Brink