Monday, January 30, 2012

Bye Bye January

MAN OH MAN! I can NOT believe that January is over. And then at the same time, Christmas seems like it was forever ago. I'm telling you, time as a missionary is soooo warped. I have this false thought that time actually stopped when I left back in 2010, that everything just stopped, and that everything will pick up when I get home again. So not true! Life has gone on! So weird... I mean, how could life go on without me? Alls I'm sayin.... :) (slightly kidding)

In all seriousness, time is an interesting thing. There never seems to be quite enough of it, and I think that's why the Brethren counsel us to use it with much care and wisdom. What we do with our time is a huge reflection of our character, I think. So that being said, I'm super excited to spend all of my time Mario Kart and Guitar Hero when I get home. Only kidding... I think that one of the things Heavenly Father really wants us to learn and understand is the principle of time, that we need to really think about the things that are the most important and prioritize our day according to those most important things. Being a missionary has definitely helped me understand priorities and planning around those priorities. I wish I could say that all of my priorities are now just in tip-top-perfect-shape, but they aren't. Just improved. Greatly improved.

Twas a good week.

Ok have a great week! Love you all!

PSYCHE. I don't know why I thought that was funny because you can see that I still wrote more. Whatevs... just go with it. I'm in a weird mood. Taquita (Sis Orellana) and I have been hard core runners lately. Even waking up early, which is hard to do. Especially for me because lets be honest, I LOVE SLEEP. Anyways, we run around and around and up hills and its HARD. Especially because Taquita is an all star runner. Anyways, we ran 5 miles today! It felt so great! I haven't done that in a reallyllllylllllyly long time. But I think I'm a little loopy because of it. But we are gonna do it again tomorrow. Haha. We are nuts, I know. But it has felt really good to get back running again. I have been running my whole mission but on a very pathetic and slow 1.5-2 miles a day around a parking lot level. I really love to run. My body hates it while I'm doing it. Today we were running up a particularly long hill and it was gruesome! Seriously so hard! But then we reached the top, and we turned left and had to go up an even steeper climb for a sec until finally we hit the down hill. And it was so refreshing and I was so grateful to be able to relax and run downhill for a while. BUT, we are still running, so it is still work. we don't just stop working or trying. I think thats how our lives are sometimes.... we have to really go through some hard things, and then even harder things at the climax of the hard thing, before we can finally make a turn and have some refreshment for a while. It's the way God keeps us humble, but also lets us know that he will never ever ever let it be too hard, or that he will never ever ever leave us continually going uphill, with no redemption, never able to feel the release. He will always come and let us run down hill for a while.

I actually feel like most of my mission has been that way. Very up and down. But the ups, in this case, have been the hard part. The parts where I was just going on pure faith, with hardly any strength. The parts where I was really wondering if I would ever make it to the top or feel that I was able to accomplish anything. The parts where Satan got in my mind and told me I can't do this, that I will never ever change, and that I might as well quit. But the down parts are where you finally get what you needed to learn, and then God is there and he helps you have a break for a second. And it makes all of the climbing worth it. Every single pain and frustration and heartache becomes worth it because of how good the down hill run feels. Because of how good the redeeming power of the Savior Jesus Christ feels in our lives.

I had one of these experiences this week. I was pretty frustrated.... "pretty" is an understatement major. I was on the brink.... and I needed to talk to my President. So I did, and it was really hard. I don't think I have actually ever felt so vulnerable in my life as I did that day. Just that really and completely, I need God every single day and I need to realize how much he loves me. Every single day. And it was definitely a hard climb... I actually feel like that day was the part of the run where the climb got a little steeper and really hard. And then the downhill came and I really feel that the Atonement of Jesus Christ came and helped me. And will continue to help me. I definitely will have another climb and another extra-climb at the climax, but I have hope that the release from the downhill will come. That if I just keep running, it will be an easier path to run. But I still have to keep on keepin on. I think that is what Christ is talking about when he says he will take our yoke upon him and make our burdens light. We still have to experience carrying the yoke, because if we didn't, we wouldn't learn a thing, BUT he will take it when we can't take it anymore. I love my Savior and I am so grateful for His atonement.

That was a really long saga. But I hope it made sense. It did to me, but then again, I'm a little crazy, so....

It really was a great week. We are teaching wonderful people. Abuelo and Polly are both progressing! Greatly! They are both thinking and praying about their baptismal dates which is wonderful. I really love them a whole lot. Polly is a little tender mercy for the end of my mission.... Pray that I will get to see her baptized. Either now, or in the future, doesn't matter. When the time is right. But.... just sayin.... it would be really nice if it was before the end of February... so... maybe keep that in your prayers..... :)

We got to speak in church yesterday. I spoke about the Book of Mormon and it really lit my fire for how important that book is again! Do we really realize what we are claiming? That because this book is true, our church is the only true church in the world. It's a pretty bold claim. BUT IT IS TRUE! Thats the amazing thing. We don't even have to try and prove it, the book is it's own proof (not my words, Ezra taft Bensons words). I really hope that we really understand how important this book is and how important it is that we share it with others! SO SHARE IT! Seriously, I would invite every one of you to really pray for an opportunity to share this book with someone the Lord will place in your path this year. Will you do it?! Good.

Allright, my time is up because I spent a really long time on my running analogy. Oh well.....

You are all the best. I really have the best friends in the world. Thank you all.

COURT- Thank you for the recorder! I all ready listened to it and it made me cry. Thank you. See you across the ocean!

Love you
Sista Brink

Monday, January 23, 2012

Transfer Fate

My transfer fate was actually really wonderful. Sis Orellana is my new companion and it was one of those "Ah, it would be great to be companions with her but that will NEVER happen because we are too good of friends and too much alike...." BUT it did happen! She is young in the mission, I am only her 2nd companion, but we are the same age and we love all the same things mostly. We run around the neighborhoods every morning and we cook all of our food together. It's quite adorable actually. She is awesome. I really feel like she is my little blessing for the end of my mission. We can really relate about a lot of things and we have a lot of fun. AND we work reallylllllllyllllyyyy hard which is great too.

A tribute to my lovely:
You know who you are.... I love you so much! I am so grateful I could serve with you and for the friendship that we developed. You taught me so much, but you know that. I hope everything is going well and that you are getting all taken care of. I can't wait to see you again and give you a big squeeze. You are incredible and I miss you, but I know that everything is going to be OK! You are an incredible person, friend, example, etc etc etc. I hope you know that. XOXOX

The week was great. Saying goodbye to my Moon Bear was sad, BUT she is right next door! So she comes-a-knockin every day just about and we see each other all the time. She rights me little notes and they ALL go in my journal because they are hilarious. My favorite part about Sis Moon is when she tells people that she is from Korea she always says "It's in Asia". hahaha. Adorable... (Court... your comment about it made me laugh so hard). Sis Moon was an incredible companion and I learned so much from her! I am so grateful I was able to serve with her for 6 weeks. The morning of transfers I woke up to Sis Moon shuffling around all nervously. She couldn't sleep so she had woke up and packed EVERYTHING to move. Hahaha. She was pretty nervous about moving over to Westwood but she is doing great and she will continue to do great things.

Sis Orellana is from Guadalajara Mexico (Cool, Mom, right?!) but she has lived in the states for 5 years so her English is great. And she is helping me con mi espanol. I was really excited to find out she was my companion. I had actually totally called it, but no one believed me. Maybe they should from now on....

I have to be honest, I'm pretty happy I never have to have a transfer drama night again. It's so stressful for everyone to wait and find out where they are going and who they're companion is. All of us sisters were actually in the same room when we found out, which was pretty funny because no one could hide their emotions about who they were going to be with, and their new companion was right there. Haha. Everyone seemed pretty happy though. It's always interesting to move areas and companions (I mean I wouldn't know much about the area part as I am only in my 3rd area. Hahah) Oh yeah, I stayed in Brentwood... if you didn't gather that...

E. Fillerup: We are working on that list. THANK YOU! We are actually going to see the Fred (you finish it) fam tomorrow and we are so excited. They let us come back after we said you sent us and they said they LOOOOOVE you. You are the best!

We have a new investigator who is amazing! We shall call her.... Polly. She is so great. And so humble... she has been through a lot and has a strong desire to know truth. I really love her a lot. We taught her yesterday after Stake Conference and it was really great. Stay tuned!

Yesterday our Stake Conference was a regional conference broadcast from Salt Lake. L. Tom Perry spoke, along with Barbara Thompson (MY FAVORITE), Steven R. Snow and Clay Johnson. It was really great! Abuelo was there and he liked it, as well as Polly. Our other people have kind of drifted off, they aren't super interested anymore, but that is ok. We are looking for God's elect and trusting that those people will definitely be taken care of.

OH MY GOSH! I MET PRESIDENT UCHTDORF! I'm not sure how it took my whole e-mail to bring that up. He just walked into the Visitors Center this week and went to the bathroom. Sis Orellana and I were eating and Sis Pintobean came back to get our new director E. Shakespeare (he was sitting with us) and she, very calmly, said "Elder Shakespear, Sister Shakespear needs you.... President Uchtdorf is here." Sis O and I looked at eachother in shock and then stood up so fast. He was so kind! See attached picture. (Yes, we were touching elbows) He was really funny and his wife is so great! I felt a strong presence while he was in the center. He really is an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, I know that for sure.

Anyways.... not much else to report on. I am so grateful to be a missionary. I love it so very much! It's weird to think that I won't be Sister Brinkerhoff anymore very soon... Very sad. I love the service that we about and I really do believe that it is the absolute most important thing in the world to prepare to live with our father in heaven and to help others do the same. I love this.

Thank you all for everything! I have the best friends and family in the world.

Sista Brink

Me and Sis> O
Sisters and E. Uchtdorf!

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Final Countdown... (I hope you are singing that song in your head...or outloud. Preferably out loud.)

Hello all!!!

Yep, it is my final and last transfer as a missionary. Well actually, no.... it's the final and last transfer as a set apart missionary. I really hope I continue to be a missionary in all that I do! Missionary work takes many forms, thats for sure. There were some really great things that happened this week. Actually, thinking that last monday was just a week ago is kind of ridiculous. It's been a lonnng week.

We find out about transfers on Tuesday even though technically the 6 week period started today. I'm actually so calm and not really worried. I hope Korea stays with me... but I actually doubt it. But we will see! It's my last "transfer drama". It really is always so dramatic... everyone whispering about what is going to happen and blah blah blah. I don't do drama but I've realized something... drama seems to follow me wherever I go. It's a curse, I think.

We met with a new investigator this week. I think I will call him Prince. He was great! Our member was PERFECT and she added such a great testimony. He knows a lot about our religion, including the things that people try and hold against us... but he has an open heart. He has read the entire Book of Mormon and says "It is definitely spiritual, but I'm not sure it is scripture." I wish there was an easy way to help people understand that if it is anything good and inspiring, then it has to be from God.... we did talk about that, and he agreed to meet with us again. Good news!

Another small little miracle I would like to share with you. When I was in Bel Air, there was a woman in the area book that I called every single week (or texted) to try and see because I felt so drawn to her name. She would sometimes text back but would always say she was busy. So I kept on trying, almost out of frustration. But moreso, I just felt that I needed to be persistant with her. SO flash forward 8 months and she finally called us and said "Why do you keep calling me." I simply said "Because I know you need what we have..." and then I just bore a bold testimony, something I try to do but am sometimes a little fearful. She set an appt with Sis Green and I and we taught her once and then I was transferred.... so then flash forward again to yesterday when we went to take the Sacrament and there she was. AT CHURCH! We sat by them for the Sacrament, and then she visisted at the Visitors Center. It was just such a tender mercy to see that even though for 8 months she never called back or would meet with us, that it was totally worth it. Miracle.

Last night was the "Departing Missionary Fireside". I have only been to one other one on my mission... I was able to play the piano for some of the songs and it was really great to hear the testimonies of the departing missionaries. It's an awesome event. All of the missionaries' investigators, new converts, members from their areas come and support the departing missionary. It's a pretty miraculous thing that happens... a bunch of young men and women leaving home to come and wear skirts and suits for a long time to talk to people about Jesus Christ, and they change. They completely change. And the people they taught see these missionaries literally as angels. They love their missionaries. And we love our people. So much. The Spirit was very strong at the fireside. Abuelo came with us.... He was crying during the final hymn. He knows this is true. Everyone pray for Abuelo!

I got a message yesterday on my call center phone from a girl I taught with her missionaries here at the Visitors Center. She said "Hi Sister Brinkerhoff.. I was hoping you can come to my baptism today!". It was a sweet moment. I couldn't go, unfortunately, but she said "You will be here in spirit!". I felt so special that she wanted to include me on her special day. I love this.

The Macdonalds left. It was very sad. I cried a lot actually! I love them so much and am so grateful for everything they did for me and for the other sisters. They are absolutel incredible.

I have had some great experiences in the call center lately. Also a miraculous thing that happens. Someone is inspired at the VC to have us call their friend. We call. They become our friend. We talk about very important and spiritual things... Its so great. Right now I have an investigator via the phone who is 16 and awesome. He is so smart and wants to know truth. Well, my friend, this is where you can find it!

The Book of Mormon is TRUE. I promise. I love it so much. I am grateful for all of you and for being my friend.

Sista Brink

COURT: I hope my Mom told you YES! IM IN! Of course! Just work it out with her. IM SO EXCITED!

Sean:   대단하지만 가끔씩 이상할때가 있어, 인터뷰 잘 되기를 바래 ( 행운을 빌어 ) 넌 잘 할수 있을거야
편지 보내기를 바래
Goodbye Macdonalds :(
Abuelo, RWLJ and Korea at the Departing Fireside 
Goodbye Sis Decker!

Monday, January 9, 2012

"A Person.....Can Develop a Cold!"

So maybe that song came into my head this week several times because EVERYONE got a cold. Including me. Which was pretty hilarious because on Monday I told everyone "I never get sick. I haven't really gotten sick on my mission at all except for a little runny nose here and there...." and then BAM! "It hit me like a one-two punch from Muhammad Ali" (Thanks RWLJ) and I got slapped with a cold. It was terrible! Mine only lasted one day with some awful after-effects like a SPLITTING head ache, but Sis Moon's lasted pretty much all week. That made for some nice quality apartment time. I'm not really good at sitting in a one-room apartment for more than a couple hours at a time... it was rough.... I organized everything I have and put everything I won't use for the rest of my time here in a big box from Korea to send home. I wrote a lot in my journal , worked on our area book and called lots of potential investigators,  and then I started to think I was going crazy because my mind started to run wild. No bueno. I'm a going kind of gal... I think it's a miracle that God lets my mind rest in the night so I can actually sleep becuase that thing just GOES. Anyways... needless to say, it was an interesting week. Because of all the sicknesses, I don't have much to report on... or any real funny stories. But I'm sending pictures so that should make up for it!
Abuelo.... Oh my abuelo.... He is so funny. He claims he is 70% Mormon and 30% Catholic right now... Still at a loss for him. I think he needs to really make a decision on his own about being baptized. He just is so scared about his family traditions, even though they are all dead. (or maybe even MORE so because they are dead.... he thinks its disrespectful.... Even though we told him his family is just WAITING for him to get baptized....) He wonders why he isn't dead yet because he is an "Old car" (His words, not mine... He's the youngest old car there ever was in my opinion) and we tell him it's because God won't let him die until he gets baptized. Haha. True story!
As far as our other investigators, I don't really feel like there is anyone to really report on. We did have a great experience the other night teaching a man we will call.... Taco. We met Taco while trying to visit someone else, he was super kind and we sort of cornered him by his trash cans... After talking for a while about the existence of God and the Restoration, he agreed to receive a Book of Mormon. We didn't really know if he would allow us to teach him an actual lesson when we delivered it with a member from the ward, but he did! And it was a really great lesson. The spirit was really strong. He is a young guy, in his late 20's probably, with a lot of great ideas and concerns about the world and God's existence in it. He didn't agree to a return appointment, but honestly, I left feeling completely confident that that was one experience closer to him having a desire to really learn more about the Gospel and that he will eventually get baptized. That was a great confirmation to have. And to feel that I was a small part in that was also very reassuring.
We have other new investigators that aren't really progressing yet, but I will definitely keep you posted as they continue to learn. I love being a missionary so much and I love these people. This truly is a great work we are involved in.
I think this might be the absolute lamest letter of my whole mission. I think I'm actually just becoming lamer and lamer as the time goes on... And also less cute and less cute. But also more spiritual and more spiritual. And more sure and more sure of my testimony. Thats a good thing.
Thank you for everything! XOXOXO
Sista Brink

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Happy New Year!!

I love New Years. I love feeling a total fresh start and feeling that I can go forward and continue to become and learn and experience. It's exciting.

In reflecting 2011 I made a list of the things I felt I had accomplished. The list looked very different than the list I envisioned at this time last year, and not in a bad way at all. In a "better persepctiv-ed" way. (Sis Bodily makes fun of me for making up words all the time... like the other day I said "anxietous" and she sad "it's just anxious. you make everything difficult". She's right. And it's true. But my words are pretty cool if I do say so myself... Be with it as you may) I looked at things that were bigger than just "I baptized x amount of people", but more "I have a better understanding of how much the Lord loves his children and wants them to be as happy as they can in His Gospel". Things like that. It was good for me, especially because sometimes I really get caught in a funk thinking "What HAVE I done in 16 months?!" (yes thats right... I am REALLY on the downward slope now....) So for me to look back and see the changes that I have made was really great. The Lord has blessed me in so many ways in 2011 and I am so grateful for that.

We had a New Years devotional on New Years Eve and it was incredible. It was a closer of our Book of Mormon challenge and a lot of missionaries bore their testimony about what they learned from this time around of reading it. I loved reading the Book of Mormon. I read it in Spanish which was an incredible experience and I definitely have a testimony of reading the Book of Mormon in a language you want to improve in! It did improve! I was able to give more tours at the Visitors Center in Spanish and more comfortably, and people understood me more. Also in talking with people in the street. I am grateful I have been able to learn a little bit of spanish, it has been such a blessing. With the Lords help, anything is possible! I bore my testimony about Hope in the Book of Mormon. How really, we are missionaries and we are trying to live the best lives we can in accordance with Gods standards because we have hope for good things to come. For others, for ourselves, for the world. Every story in the Book of Mormon has a message of Hope. Of Deliverance. Of faith... these people just kept on going and kept on going! I love reading Moroni's last few chapters... how hopeful he is for all of us. It's amazing. I know the Book of Mormon is true. It was so fun to hear so many missionaries bear their testimonies about the Book of Mormon. I wrote down a little from each one, and every one was so different which is a HUGE witness to me that God really does know us and knows what we need. If it wasn't from God, we would all tell the stories about Nephi and how he went and got the plates because he was commanded. But everyone had something different to say, a different twist on what they learned this time... it was so cool. The Book of Mormon is true. Do I say that a lot?

We went to the Getty museum today. Um,... It's amazing. It was sad because of course I got lost and it took us 30 minutes to get there, so we only had like 45 minutes and it is HUGE! And beautiful! definitely a place I will go when I come back. But without my sister Linz, because lets be honest, she would sit on a bench and sleep :)

Whew it's been a whirlwind of a week and a half. Feels like forever since I e-mailed last.

For an update:
Abuelo:  He set a baptismal date, but he is now skeptical about it again because he is so worried about abandoning his Catholic faith, simply because of his heritage. He loves the Book of Mormon and says it is true and "has power" and he does know that this church is "good" but he doesn't quite get the connection that the Book of Mormon being true means that this is God's ONLY church.  We go forward with faith! Trusting in the Lords timing for things is definitely something I have begun to learn on this missionary journey. We had an amazing lesson last night and watched "Finding Faith in Christ". He felt the spirit. I know he did.
Mom and Son: They are great... they aren't progressing at all yet, but they will continue to meet with us and hopefully they will gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon. They have great questions, but I think it's more for an intellectual stance... but they are willing to read and pray, so hopefully soon we will see the beginnings of a changed heart. Mom always feeds us goodies and treats us so well. Son is very smart and has a very strong and powerful belief in God.

Jasmine:  She also has a baptismal date but we haven't had a lesson with her since we set it because she has been out of town. This holiday season has been somewhat tricky to set appointments with people!
There are other new investigators and referrals that we are hopefully going to work with this week. I love these people so much! I love the Gospel and I love seeing how it blesses peoples lives.
I began the Book of Mormon over to read one last time as a missionary in Los Angeles and once again, that spark of excitement about this book comes. I love the Book of Mormon so much. And I know it is true because I believe God has told me it is true over and over again.

Thank you all for your prayers, love and support. I sure do love ya! Just love ya su-much!

Sista Brink