Monday, September 26, 2011

and then the mornings were dark

When the morning is dark still at 6:15 when we wake up, it is IMPOSSIBLE! Seriously! And it will be this way until daylight savings. Which will be a glorious day because we get an extra hour of sleep. Oh the blessing of sleep. Hopefully that one extra hour will tide me over for a few more months until I can go down to my dark, cold basement with my warm, huge, comfy bed. And sleep. For days. Thinking about it makes me drool. I will say, though, I am pretty lucky because I do have a very comfortable bed here. And I've never moved apartments my whole mission besides moving from the MTC here. Count my many blessings. There's one.

Whew. Another week.
I have to be honest. This has been the hardest couple of weeks of my entire mission. Sometimes, I really do just feel completely incapable, and these last few weeks were really trying. I wish everyone could experience being a missionary in Beverly Hills. It is the most humbling experience of my entire life. Sometimes people just stare at us when we knock on their door and I think they are going to burn my forehead with their eyes. Or put a hole through my tag with their laser beams coming out of their pupils.  I  am trying to rely on the Atonement, and I feel like I am starting to glimpse at what that actually means, but when it comes down to it, it breaks my heart that person after person tells us that we are wrong, crazy, and brain washed. At the end of a day, I just want to cry because I just want to do missionary work. I want to do what the Lord wants me to do. And if that means just talking to people and giving them an opportunity to feel the spirit for a second, so be it. But it is still a hard thing when our real purpose is to prepare people for baptism. I need to have more faith. I realized something this last week and that was that my need for validation is a representation that I don't trust in the Lord enough. I don't trust that he is proud of me or happy with my work, so sometimes I feel like I NEED someone to tell me. But that is really silly. Because I do know that the Lord loves me and is glad I am serving a mission. I really am doing the very best I know how, and I know the Lord is aware of us over here in Bel Air. I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm fine. It's just that I am a representative of Jesus Christ. That is a lofty task. I'm also very imperfect and a little OCD. Also a lofty task. I think my desire to share this wonderful Gospel has increased substantially since I have been here, and because of that increase, my sensitivity about those who reject it has increased also. So, while I have a much stronger testimony, I also cry a lot more because I want to share this with others so badly and just want to grab them by their very expensive face and say "LISTEN TO ME! THIS IS REAL! I PROMISE THERE IS MORE TO YOUR LIFE THAN WHAT YOU THINK!" The Book of Mormon has perfectly illustrated stories about the kinds of experiences I have had and the kinds of people I have been able to serve here. I am trying to be more like those missionaries. For a detailed description, read the Book of Mormon. You all ready should be anyway! It is really cool though because all of the missionaries in the Book of Mormon have different missionaries with completely different kinds of experiences, people, situations, trials, etc. And that is exactly how it is here... We all in our different areas experience completely different things, so really, trying to compare is completely silly. I am grateful for the experience I am having.Pushing forward...

We have met a lot of students lately, who say they want to learn more, and then stand us up. That is the worst feeling ever. Because you get SO excited, and you KNOW that this one is going to be ready... And then they choose to not go forward. We are trying to find the elect... I know they are out there. We just gotta be patient and find them. Man that patient thing has been a pattern for me... Maybe I should work on it... It's definitely gotten better. I think.

 A glimpse of hope was that Bro Simpson came to church yesterday. What a wonderful blessing. We really hope he will begin to progress more. We weren't able to meet with them this week unfortunately. I was sitting there at church, waiting for Sacrament to start, and I see little Shirley Temple running over to me screaming "SISTERS!" And it seriously just melted my heart. And then Bro Simpson came around the corner which of course melted me a little more. The Lord really is so good. That was a much-needed tender mercy after a week of hope-thrashing experiences. But that is the remarkable thing, the Lord never ever ever lets us go uncared for... He sometimes lets us struggle, so that we can be stronger, and then to see the blessings that he has provided so that we can KNOW and RELY on His help. It is wonderful.

Dear Courtney: OMgosh! Dying a little. Maybe I'm SO excited, and will probably hold my breath until your next letter. Also, the recording made my week last week. I forgot to mention it, not sure how, but I seriously needed that so badly. And of course I listened to the whole thing. Mostly while sis Pinto bean tried to pick out some shoes at payless. Which took a while. It was hilarious on so many levels. This comment is for anyone: Never ever think that I don't like to hear about the "mundane" things! I love it! I love the little details. And it really doesn't distract me. If anything, it helps me remember that things are still somewhat normal even after all of this crazy-time as a missionary. Thank you for sending it, Court. And everyone else who recorded on it, thanks!!! Love you all.

Lauren: Loved hearing from you! I need your address :) xoxo

Moffat said something in his testimony at church yesterday that I really loved, and that I think I needed to hear. He said "Repentance is sometimes just letting go." I really do need to learn to let go and let Christ take care of some things. I'm such a micro-manager. Which is good for some things, and horrible for others. I am definitely working on that one... I think I have changed a lot in the craziness factor. That's the hope anyway.

Allrighty well that's enough of my rambling. I am grateful for this work. I know it is the Lord's work and I really do want to do all I can. I love my Savior Jesus Christ with everything that I am.

Sista Brink

Monday, September 19, 2011

I never saw that movie.... but I imagine it was probably a lot like this week.

We really did have a series of unfortunate events this week! A lot of things just hit like a tornado (If you know me, you know I have nightmares about Tornadoes, and really just natural disasters in general, ALL the time... which is funny because I have never experienced one, or never really even lived in a place long enough to experience one... Probably a good representation of my life: Always worrying about things that really I have no control over... And what does stressing do? NOTHING. And then there never really is a "storm" anyway.) and we were NOT prepared for these things....

The first was that Sister Parra-- a missionary here at the VC who I just LOVED (and still do, of course)-- went home quickly because her older sister passed away suddenly. How heartbreaking! AH I can't even imagine... for several reasons... That would just be so hard. She actually had finished her 18 months but had extended one transfer so she really didn't miss any of her mission. BUT she didn't get to have any sort of preparation, spiritually or mentally, to go home. That would be so hard. And her family... My heart goes out to them! We love you Hermana Parra. "I lub you"

Granny G isn't doing too well. It really is sad how Satan moves in and tries to strike just after a very amazing, spiritual experience. I had never seen her so happy than after her baptism. And now, she is just having a hard time. We had a lesson and I became very very very upset afterwards. I was able to talk with our VC director about things, and it was really a blessing. SO this experience wasn't totally unfortunate. We had a good talk about doing all that we can, and then leaving things up to the Lord. He reinforced my work, helping me feel better and not believe that things are always my fault. People have their agency... And just because my feelings get hurt, it doesn't mean that I can change anyone or force them to do anything. My heart gets broken so easily by people... something I'm working on... but the truth is, if things always went MY way, I would be taking away the opportunity for someone else to excercise their agency and also probably miss out on some seriously cool growth experiences. Cause that is what trials turn into. Like a butterfly. Anyways... pray for Granny G.

Yesterday, Sunday, 2 of our Sisters got in a car accident. Sister Pinto and I were able to go and help and such... They were T-Boned in an intersection and the cars were completely totaled. One Sister felt horrible because of the accident, and the other one was rushed to the hospital for some x-rays and things... We were at the hospital for 3 hours with them yesterday. Both of them are fine, just really sore, especially one of them... But all is well. Needless to say, it was a pretty dramatic day. This is funny: there was a Stake Conference that Pres and Sis Baker were supposed to speak at, but they were at the hospital with us. So it was announced to an entire stake that there was an accident, that 2 sisters were in the hospital. Which then of course caused for a lot of drama. Our Zone Leaders who were at the stake conference were stressing out thinking one of us had died. Maybe that's not funny, but I thought it was pretty amusing. Oh the drama. I love it.

So, as you can see. It was a crazy week.

BUT there is something really crazy cool happening. The other VC Sister trainer-- Hermana Bustamante-- and I were able to get trained through Headquarters how to do "chat" on So we are able to teach people online! It's amazing! I have all ready had some really amazing experiences. Tonight, we have a "return appointment" with a guy who is seriously searching for the truth. I've taught him 3 times and it really has been incredible. If you go on and click "chat with us" it takes you automatically to a missionary. Pretty amazing stuff. Send your friends there!

Oh. So I wasn't transferred. I can't believe transfers were just 4 days ago. Like I said, LOOOOOONG week. We are still truckin in Bel Air for at least one more transfer! I'm glad I'm still with my Pinto Bean here. There is so much work to do in this area....And we are working hard, mark my words. By the end of this transfer, I will have been a missionary in Bel Air/Beverly Hills/UCLA for 7 and a half months. Which is a reallllly long time to be in one area. But I'm lovin it. Sort of overwhelmed at times... But loving it nonetheless. Heavenly Father is also probably laughing at me all the time because I am ALWAYS around Black Range Rovers... My favorite car.... But I have to be honest, after being a missionary here for that long, I think I'll pass on the Range Rover. A mini van for my 6 kids will suffice. (I know, right?! Changes!)

Simpsons are doing well. We are starting completely over with him and hopefully that will help him to receive some answers. They are so great...

Halloween is everywhere all ready. Really?! Is it all ready HALLOWEEN TIME?! Can't believe that at all. I think I'll be a Sister Missionary this year (that was for you Mom.)

We did a lot of finding this week. Not too many funny or crazy stories, but we did find some new potential investigators for the UCLA ward. Pray for us! We need a teaching pool... I have been very fortunate to have people that we have been teaching my whole time in Bel Air, now we are on a "dry spell". So... we need some super soakers...

I AM SO EXCITED FOR CONFERENCE! I really cannot explain how wonderful conference is as a missionary. It's like the best treat ever. Better than the new Oatmeal Cookie flavor at Yogurtland. For reals. I have been re-reading all of last conference and I am so excited to see what those wonderful men have to say. Conference will also be 5 years since my Dad died... a good time to reflect and remember that special man. I miss him.

Sometimes a Sister just needs a nap! (said with a "sparkle s"). I guess it's my own fault that I am tired right now because we played Ultimate frisbee for 2 hours today. SO I am tired and a tad sunburned. But it felt oh so good.

I love being a missionary. So. Much.

Yesterday I was in a tour and feeling the spirit really strong (even in SPANISH!) and I had the though "I only have 5 more months of this". And I got teary-eyed. I never thought I would be one of those "NOOOO I DONT WANT TO LEAAAAAAVVVVEE" missionaries but maybe I was fooling myself. This work is oh so good.

PS. I didn't have time to write ANY letters today. Again, frisbee.... Sorry! I love you oh so much (Mom and Court... this is for you... please forgive me!::(

Sista Brink

Monday, September 12, 2011

Transfer Number 9

Ok when you think of 9 transfers out of 12, that makes it REALLY scary how little time I have left.

So yes, transfers are the day after tomorrow. Again! Doesn't it seem like my little Pinto Bean just barely joined me in the land of the rich and the famous? I know. Time is a flyin. Probably for everyone but Dar. She seems to think the time is still going super slow. Don't worry, Mom. I will be home before you know it.

SO as far as transfer chisme (gossip) I don't know anything and I don't really have any inklings or anything. Usually I do, and usually I'm right about what happens. But this time, I really think a lot of things could happen. I feel like I will stay in Bel Air though. I have unfinished business (I just thought of "Casper" and how I used to be in love with Devin Sawa. Maybe I still am....) to attend to here in the Bel Air area. Yes I know I am selfish. I really will be fine with whatever happens to be honest. But I feel like I'm staying. Tune in next week to find out where in the world is Sista Sista Brink (I had to do a double "sista" for it to fit with "where in the world is Carmen San Diego". Maybe you figured that out...)

I'm always hot. And my companion is always freezing. Mostly just in our apartment. Because when we are outside, we will walk 10 steps and I think she's gonna have a heart attack. But then in our apartment I turn on the air cause I feel like a rotisserie chicken and she starts shivering. It's a problem. I HAVE to marry someone with some meat on him so that we will never fight about the air...  It's brought us closer together though... I sacrifice covers, she adds them... it works. Literally I think she has like 10 on her during the night. And I only have my ancient blanket that I have had forever that was sewn by I think my great great grandma. It's the ugliest thing in the world. I will never ever ever sleep with anything else. But it will ALWAYS be hidden under a darling bedspread.

Speaking of being high-maintenance. (We weren't... but I am...) I realized the reason that I could never have a cat. It's because I could never have an animal that was more high maintenance than myself. This is going somewhere I promise. It's called the Cat Genie. You should look it up on Youtube, apparently there are videos of said Cat Genie. The Simpsons just bought one for their cat and Bro Simpson had me come watch what happens after the cat disposes... It's ridiculous! It cleans everything like 3 times! BY ITSELF! And then cleans the litter out. And then cleans it again. And then dries it with a dryer that is all inside this fancy shmancy machine for the cat to go to the bathroom in! Apparently cats are very specific about their litter. Just look it up. Point in case: I will never own a cat. But they are very soft. And I happen to like Smokey (the Simpsons cat) very much. I just don't like his toilet.

So the attached pictures have one with me and a half-eaten loaf of bread and a hole in our screen door.

A squirrel broke into our apartment! And ate my bread! And pooped on our couch! I was so mad. And now we have a hole in our screen door so heaven knows another rodent will make its way in and eat my rice cakes! Grrrrrrrrrr. As you can tell, I was not happy. And don't judge me, it was at the very end of the day when I was exhausted. Such is life as a missionary.

There is another picture of me and Pinto Bean, Elders Jacobberger and Bennet and Sisters Ashby and Oteiza-Hernandez at my FAVORITE place Souplantation. Just like sweet tomatoes. They knew that that was my place so we went last prep day. Mmmmmmm.

 And then there is me and Pinto Bean and RWLJ.

He played another Robert Webster Light Jr. Original at the Visitors Center! It's called Zephir in F#. It was incredible. I seriously just am so grateful for that man. He's on youtube apparently. Check it out. He's a talented soul. Big heart, little hands. Amazing. RWLJ will be one of the best things that happened to me on this journey.

Soooooooo. Things are good. Still doing lots of finding and sending lots of referrals to other missionaries who I am SURE deserve them :) We did find a new investigator who will be out of town for a couple weeks so that's a bummer. But we love the Simpson fam. Bro Simpson is still very hesitant to really make any commitments and we are trying to help him along in this journey. They are wonderful, I really love them a lot.

I also included a picture with me and my plant, Herbert. I love my plant. 

I will take care of him till the day I die.... And then I will give him to another missionary to take care of.

Ok this e-mail is nonsense. I am kinda dazy.... I'm just ready for a new transfer to be honest. New Goals, new things, I'm a fan of change. For the most part...

But on a serious note. I am thinking about the things I have changed over the last year. One of the biggest things that has changed is my perspective. About SO many things. Life, God, missionary work, wards and stakes, auxiliaries, religion, family, myself, relationships, hobbies, future, careers, priorities. My perspective about all of these things has changed from a "sister Brinkerhoff" perspective to a "Sister Brinkerhoff and God" perspective. I really feel like I have made giant strides to try and align my perspective with Gods and see the bigger picture. It really has changed a lot of my mentality about these things. Some have changed from an ignorant or luke-warm feeling to a strong desire to change and help, others have changed from a worldly point of view to a more spiritual and "bigger" perspective. I really do believe that part of our "purpose" in this life is to align our perspective with God's so that we can understand more fully His wonderfully perfect and detailed plan for us. Rather than looking at everything from a "me" perspective, if we can look at it from a God perspective, we might be able to understand things a little more clearly. Try it.

I had an amazing experience at the VC the other day with some elders and their investigator. Ah the spirit was SO strong while we taught him about the Book of Mormon. I have a special Book of Mormon that I spent a loooooong time marking with specific subjects and all color coordinated. It's a little OCD but its wonderful. We all chose scriptures and it was so cool because the scripture we each chose was so pertinent to our individual situations. There were tears and lots of smiles. It was really neat. He will get baptized.

Welp.... Not much else in my brain today. Gonna go help some people or something.

Seriously though, I love you all so much.

-Sista Brink

PS for LANUS: Elder Macdonald (VC director) showed us the last 2 minutes of the Ole Miss game and I thought about you. Ummmm maybe I teared up a little. And I wasn't even THAT into football! I was just so happy to be a Coug! And I'm sure that was a highlight of your month so wanted to let you know I kind of shared it with you :)

Monday, September 5, 2011

September Select

September Select" is our Zone Goal for the month of September. Elder Jacobberger and Bennett (Zone Leaders) did the most hilarious skit to introduce it. Basically, it was a skit representing the all-too-common ways that guys try and get girls to marry them after their missions. It was hilarious. And it was showing that we as missionaries sometimes just gotta move on to find those who are really prepared to receive the Gospel, rather than just waiting and trying to convince people that they should get baptized. We just want to find ANYONE who will learn at this point, let alone someone who is actually prepared to accept the ordinance of Baptism! Nonetheless, it was a good reminder that we really do have to use our time so wisely on our missions. And in life really... Definitely an eternal principle. Time is such a precious gift we have. I wish we had more of it to sleep.

Speaking of sleep. So this week, something crazy happened. I had like a CRAZY sinus attack. While getting ready the other morning, I felt nauseous (no idea how to spell that word. Never have known), and then I swallowed and something exploded inside my mouth! True story! And I started choking on something... like acid-y tasting... and then was like dry heaving. Ok I know this is a horrific description but I'm just telling what happened to me. Anyways. So then my throat and my eyes were BURNING and my head was on FIRE. It was the craziest thing in the world. Then I couldn't like lay down or anything because I was going crazy with how badly I was burning. SO I tried to rinse with salt water for like 30 minutes and I just kept spitting and spitting because there was so much gunk in my mouth. So gross. anyways... so then I finally felt ish-ok and went to the VC and we worked all day. Then that night, I tossed and turned and only slept for 2 hours! But I was breathing fine! It was so frustrating. So then the next night... SO excited to sleep.... and the SAME THING! Tossing and turning. Ah it was horrible. And if you know me, you know that I do NOT function on no sleep. So it was a rough couple of days and I felt like I was in a haze. It was awful. But I finally slept on Saturday and Sunday night, hallelujah. It was wonderful. But I'm still a little hazy and need to catch up. Like that will ever happen....

Things are going pretty well. Doing a lot of finding and a lot of praying. We are excited for a ward activity that is in the making, finally, after some convincing and a nice "pitch" from our ward mission leader, for the WW 1st ward. Hopefully it will be a good missionary activity. It's gonna be a talent show. Hopefully everyone will get involved and make it a fun night. And mostly, hopefully people will bring friends!! I'm seriously so excited to be able to help with activities for the missionaries when I get home. I really want to be a good member missionary. As should all of you... Just sayin. If you don't know the missionaries in your ward, GET TO KNOW THEM! They need your help! Do it for us over here in Beverly Hills. Let me know about your missionary opportunities :)

We are still working with Bro Simpson. We had a lesson and dinner with a family in our ward this week which was wonderful. Bro Simpson knows everything, he understands everything and really does want to do what is right. But he will not accept a baptismal date. We are trying to figure out what is holding him back... I am just in love with that family. I literally fall asleep every night thinking about them in the temple. But then I end up dreaming something reallllly crazy. This week I dreamed that Pres Baker sent me home for no reason, just felt I needed to go home and it was HORRIBLE! It made me think about how special this time is and how I really need to give my all, because it is so short and before we know it I will be home wondering how in the world a year and a half all ready went by.

We had some pretty great finding stories this week. Its really sad when people tell us we are going to Hell, or rather, the Lake of Fire, because we are preaching to people about the Book of Mormon. Oh if only they could really see how wonderful it is! I LOVE THE BOOK OF MORMON! And I know it is true. Nothing will ever shake my testimony of the Book of Mormon and its truthfulness. I have read it over 4 times just on my mission and every time I just fall more and more in love with it.

Sis Pinto's favorite thing to say is "You are really crazy". That pretty much sums us up. Haha. You know you never really appreciate the value of communication until its hindered quite a bit. We are learning a lot. A LOT. I sometimes think that patience is being shoved down my throat, but really, I need to allow myself to enjoy the taste a bit...

Granny G had cataract surgery this week so she is pretty out-of-service. Italian people are somewhat stubborn if you didn't know... I love that woman. She is hilarious. Stubborn and hilarious.

Sister Hanselpants and I did a training this week for the Visitors Center ( we do one every week... one gets over and we are relieved and then two days later we are having to brainstorm about what to do next. It never ends! ) about our calling... applying to both our call as missionaries and our calling from the call center where we call the referrals we received. I don't think I have really written very much about the wonderful, miraculous experiences I have had and always have in the call center. To be able to have a spiritual conversation over the phone with someone, to get to know them, have them open up to you and really see how God has been with them in their lives is an amazing thing. Something that you can only experience it if you experience it, you know? It is such a unique calling that wehave as Visitors Center AND Proselyting missionaries. Best of both worlds!!! I am very grateful.

I always think I have nothing to say and then BAM! I've written a novel. Seems like that is a pattern in my life. Haha. Like the time I didn't have anything to say for my Dad's funeral, and I ended up talking for 20 minutes, Such is Sista Brink. Be with it as you may....

Love you all very much! Thank you for your support and love and prayers and everything!

Sista Brink