Monday, September 28, 2015

Happy Three Months!

Dearest Family and Friends,

It's amazing to me that every week is a great week. It truly is. Every week is amazing!! I am just soooooo happy to be a missionary. Honestly. one of my biggest trials on my mission has been gaining the trust/attention/approval of all the people I teach. It's really hard to have a fluent companion, because the people we teach always choose to talk to her because it's much easier for them. I have this BURNING desire to teach and help, but it's hard, and a lot of people don't give me the chance. I've been praying for strength to either learn the language, be patient with myself, or be happy with where I'm at. In a lesson this last week, the lady we were teaching told me how bad my accent was, how I didn't talk clearly....blah blah blah, and she praised my companions. I was feeling really discouraged. The lesson was absolutely amazing, but my anger and frustration about her comments prevented me from feeling the spirit and recognizing it as a good lesson. I learned that day that I need to STOP worrying about myself. Who cares if it isn't perfect? If Heavenly Father wanted me to be fluent right now....I would be. But, I don't need to be. My work right now does not require me to be perfect in the language. It was SUCH a great learning experience for me. I just need to be proud of what I have done, recognize the people that are proud of my efforts, and forget about everything else. So that was one of my grand lessons learned this week. :) knocking was one of my least favorite things on this mission, until this last week. We went to this apartment complex that Walter suggested to us, and we knocked at least 3 buildings, and got 11 return appointments. I was feeling so pumped! We went back for the return appointments....and none were there, or they acted like they'd never seen us and sent us away. It was super discouraging....but then we found this one genuine guy who really appreciated us being there, and really wants us to come back...for real. I realized at that moment that it is SOOO worth it to knock 200 doors to find that one person who is ready....that one golden person. I feel like this whole week for me has just been a huge learning experience. I have SO much that I need to learn, and Heavenly Father is really helping me.

Working I got really sick this last week. We had to stay in for the whole day. I felt so unproductive. I decided to work SUPER hard the next day to make up for staying in for a day. We did our weekly planning that day, and we were really struggling to find answers for our investigators....especially Walter. We got down on our knees and just prayed for him. After the prayer, we all just looked at each other and didn't know what to do. So, we continued planning. Then, I remembered I had forgotten to tell SIster Stewart about something Walter said in a lesson while she was on exchanges....I started telling her, and then we realized that was the answer we needed. We realized that his wife was holding him back. He doesn't want to make commitments because she isn't doing it with him, and he feels bad progressing in the gospel when his wife isn't there with him. We knew Heavenly Father had given us that answer. It was absolutely incredible!! We called a lot of people after that and scheduled a ton of appointments for the next week. I honestly believe that those miracles came because all three of us strived really hard to be exactly obedient and work hard. The Lord really does prepare His children AND His missionaries. We weren't ready all those times when Walter cancelled....we needed to discover his needs first, and Heavenly Father only told us when we were ready to listen. So, that was lesson number 3. :) We then had an amazing lesson with Walter. We stressed the importance of the Book of Mormon, and how this Gospel will bless his family. He actually listened in the lesson....which is rare. ;) It was so amazing to see how the Lord gives us inspiration to help teach His children. :)

Women's It was SO incredibly amazing!! I came prepared with 3 questions, and all of them got answered PERFECTLY. This church is absolutely incredible. We are so lucky to be lead by a living prophet today, and apostles. We are so lucky. This church truly is incredible, and I am SO glad that I am a part of it. One of the ladies talked about how we need to wear the name of Christ in our hearts....I was thinking about how lucky I am to have his name actually written on my nametag. I thought to myself that I only had 15 months left to represent Jesus Christ.....what am I going to do about it? That conference definitely made me think. I just learned SO much this week. It was amazing!!!!! this Sunday was definitely the most disappointing so far. Walter didn't come to church again. It just makes me so sad. I don't even think I could describe the heartbreak I feel. I know how much this Gospel blesses my life, and I want the same for him. Why doesn't he just come???? It kills me. We didn't have any investigators come to church. It was just a bummer SUnday. Then I decided I needed to stop being depressed about it, because that's what Satan wants, and I need to focus on what DID happen on Sunday. We had 3 less actives come....less actives who hadn't come for a LONG time. It was amazing!! Ana and her kids are still coming. One of the members of the branch presidency bought Edwin a suit so he could look nice on Sunday. Holy cow!!! Amazing. Us misisonaries got to teach the primary because all the leaders had a special class, so that was way fun!! There are SO many blesssings around just have to choose to focus on them. Walter didn't come.....but Hermana Castaneda's VERY less active son DID....and her heart is breaking because he doesn't come to church. I am sure that was a huge blessing for her. Why wasn't I joining in her happiness? I need to focus on what DOES happen.

Well, Heavenly Father really taught me a WHOLE lot this week. We may not have had a whole lot of "success" as people would call it....but I certainly grew. I am certainly ready to go out and work hard with a better attitude. I am grateful for my Heavenly Father and all He teaches me. I hope you all have an amazing week! Thanks for the prayers and support!

Hermana Bringhurst

Monday, September 21, 2015

End of First Transfer!

Dearest Family and Friends,

Wow!!! Time truly does fly...I feel like I came to Georgia a week ago, and it's already been 6 weeks. Time is really strange on a mission. I never truly understood that until I actually came out on a mission. Haha, funny how that works right? :)

Baptism.....This baptism was the highlight of my week. Words cannot describe the love and the joy I feel for Ana and her two kids, and for the decision they made to be baptized, make covenants, and start fresh on the path to Eternal Life. As I have watched them grow, my faith has been strengthened. I watched as a mom and her two kids willingly accepted EVERYTHING we shared with them, and committed immediately to follow Jesus Christ. What incredible faith. Their faith, and willingness to give up EVERYTHING to be a part of this Gospel has made my faith increase, and made me appreciate what I have, and how lucky I am to be a member. I didn't have to give up everything....but to watch someone completely change their life for this Gospel has really made me think this past week. So, the service was beautiful. PRESIDENT AND SISTER FOOTE CAME!!!! I was soooo excited!!! Sister Foote asked me to translate for them, so that was scary. I LOVE the practice. :) I'm sure I did a lot of it wrong, but I just appreciated that she gave me the opportunity. Ana and her kids looked so beautiful. You could just see the joy in their eyes. I was holding it together pretty good, but when sweet little Ayari was baptized....I just lost it. It just touches my heart to see this sweet family enter the waters of baptism. This gospel is going to be such a blessing in their lives. I am so grateful that I came on a mission. Heavenly Father is truly blessing me. I am the luckiest missionary in the world, no joke. I am so grateful that Heavenly Father trusted me enough to let me find those 3 souls, and help them come back. What an incredible blessing.

District Meeting.....I've always loved district meeting, and I always learn something incredible, but this last meeting was ESPECIALLY amazing. We had been having some issues in our companionship, and I really hoped that District Meeting would help give me some guidance. I was right. We talked about Christlike attributes. I learned from the scripture about how charity is the pure love of Christ - that I can get down on my knees, and pray to have the love of Christ in me at all times. I had never really thought about that. I learned what I needed to do to bring the spirit more fully into my life. I've really been praying for charity this week. I've noticed a HUGE difference. I don't get angry or agitated as easily, and I have a love for everyone around me that I never thought I was capable of. Yay for district meeting!! I also learned from Ether 12:27 that if I have a weakness, I can give it to Heavenly Father and He will make it strong. I don't have to go through my whole mission thinking "Oh, I'm just going to be awkward in door approaches....or I will never be good at getting to know people" I don't have to think that. I can give those weaknesses to Heavenly Father, and He can make them my strengths. Oh how I love district meeting! Here's to a great week!! we went on a 3 day exchange this last weekend. It was REALLY helpful. Sister Gallardo and I stayed Spanish, and SIster Stewart went to English. I learned SO much. Miracles always happen on exchanges. We were able to visit a lot of people, and I was able to practice my Spanish more. It was incredible. So, here's the best part about exchanges. We went to a member's house for dinner....and she fed us....chicken feet. I TOTALLY ATE THEM!!! It was gross...and weird....and it really looked like a chicken foot....but I DID IT. Boom. She only made them so we could try something weird. She wanted us to be able to write our family and tell them we ate something crazy. I did, however, pass on the gizzard....;) sadly, Walter still hasn't come to church. :( We have faith that he will, though. He really wants to come. I know it. I guess it just isn't time yet, but we'll keep working with him. :) was the confirmation of Ana and her kids. What a beautiful experience. Our stake Patriarch was the one that did the confirmations. When he was giving Ayari her blessing....he paused....and then told her she would serve a mission and be a powerful influence to others in the church. Tears were streaming down my face. How beautiful!! :) The priesthood is real, and powerful. I am so grateful for the branch, and for all the love they have shown Ana and her kids. I am sooooo blessed!!! At the end of church, Ana asked if we could help her with something. What would you guess it was? I had no guesses.....well, guess what? SHe asked us to help her PAY HER TITHING!!!!!! This is her first Sunday as a member, and she is already paying her tithing. I have never seen so much faith in ANYONE. I'm even getting teary now just typing it. I am SO blessed. I cannot believe Heavenly Father let ME have the opportunity to LEARN from HER. :) MIssions are amazing. Just saying.

Well, that's my week. I am so grateful for all the experiences I've had here on my mission. I would make the decision 10 billion times over again to serve. I am not only teaching others, but others are teaching me through their examples. I can't wait to see what other experiences I will have on my mission. I hope you all have an amazing week!!! :)

Hermana Bringhurst
Shannon with Ana and her two children at the baptism

Monday, September 14, 2015

Sometimes I forget I'm in America . . .

Hello all!!!

Once again, it's been another GREAT week here in the Georgia Atlanta Mission....wait Georgia? I'm actually in America? Sometimes I forget. I spend most of my day talking in Spanish, eating Spanish food, and everything else Spanish....then suddenly I'm in McDonald's and realize there are Americans here. Haha :) We had this really neat activity on Saturday night called "Dia de Naciones" It was SOOO fun. The 4 Spanish branches in the area combined together to put together this activity. Every country that speaks Spanish was represented. There was food, entertainment, music, the whole 9 yards. It was SOOOO fun!! That whole activity, I seriously felt like I was in another country...then we left, and there was English again. I love my calling. I love being in Spanish. It may be difficult at times, but I am SO grateful for the opportunity. I can be IN the culture, but be by a Walmart....and a McDonald's. Do I get the best of both worlds?? Yes, I think so :) Walter and his 3 kids were actually able to come to the activity with us!! We had an appointment with him right before, and we asked him to follow us and bring his kids!! He did!! It was soooo fun. We gave him a tour of the building. He absolutely loved it! It was fun to just get to know him and his family better. :) Yay for ward (or I guess branch) activities!!

So......the best news I could possible this.....WE HAVE A BAPTISM THIS SATURDAY. IT'S OFFICIAL!!!!!! Ana, Edwin, and Ayari will be baptized this Saturday at 3pm!!!! They've heard all the lessons, been to church 2 times, and they are READY. We made the programs, scheduled the interview, and got the jumpsuits yesterday. It's really happening. This baptism is especially incredible because Ana and her family are the FIRST people that I was here when we taught them for the FIRST time. Everyone else we teach, I came after my companions had already taught one or two lessons. I got to introduce myself as "Hermana Bringhurst" not "Yo soy nueva...." (I'm new...) I am beyond excited!! It is amazing to see their growth and their love of the Gospel, and their testimony!!! Ana literally has nothing....absolutely nothing.....we taught her about tithing...and she said "of course I'll live the law of tithing! I'll get more blessings because of it!!" Holy. Cow. I love her. Her kids are absolutely adorable. They are soooo excited. Ayari draws pictures of Jesus in her school notebook, it is absolutely priceless. I thank Heavenly Father every day for giving me the opportunity to know these people.

Teaching....this week has been great!! We haven't been teaching a whole lot of people. They usually cancel, or don't return our calls...and we've been trying to focus on Ana and her family, and Walter and his family since they're progressing the most. We had 2 amazing lessons with Walter, and 3 amazing lessons with Ana and her kids. We taught Ana in Zoraida's house (an AMAZING member) and that was the best lesson I've ever been in. Members are EVERYTHING. I cannot say it enough. Ana has so many friends in the branch. That lesson was absolutely perfect!!!! Have I ever said that I love being a missionary???? Well....I DO!!!! :):)

Sunday....Okay, I love Sundays. They are the best days of the week....period. Just saying :) President Madsen was making the announcement of the baptism over the pulpit right as Ana and her kids were walking in. She wasn't listening because she was finding her seat.  Once President Madsen said her name, she look up with sheer terror in her eyes! (We forgot to tell her he was announcing it) Haha :) We were on the stand because I was playing piano, so we looked at her from the stand, gave her a "I hope this is okay" thumbs up.  She giggled and gave us the reassuring "I'm totally okay with this" smile :) LOVE HER!!! :) After the meeting, Zoraida suggested that Ana get a priesthood blessing. The first counselor, and the Patriarch gave her the blessing. It was such a neat experience. Ana truly has an amazing testimony. It's soooo amazing to be a part of her growth and acceptance of this Gospel. It was also incredible to watch her receive the blessings of the Priesthood. I love the Priesthood. I am so grateful for it. I was grateful last week when I got a Priesthood blessing to help me with my stomach (spicy food is no good ;) ) I am so grateful for the Priesthood!!! :) We also had 2 less actives comes to church!!! Oh my goodness!!! Blessings all around!!!

Well, sorry if this letter is all over the place. I want you all to know that I have a testimony of this Gospel. I really do. I know this is the Lord's work. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be a missionary. I have learned SO much already....even in just these short 2 1/2 months. I have learned that attitude really is everything. Every day can be a great day if you choose to focus on your blessings, and WHY you are out here. I know why I am out here. I am so grateful for the Gospel in my life, and I'm grateful that I can share it with others. Thank you for your support, I honestly could not be here without you. :) I love you all!!

Hermana Bringhurst

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Hay Gozo en mi Alma Hoy!!!

Dearest Family and Friends,

I know I've only been out 2 months....but this has by far been the best week of my mission so far!!!! I have never experienced this much joy in my entire life!!! I don't even know how to describe the joy I feel!!! :) I truly love being a missionary. I get to be a part of some really neat miracles, and I thank Heavenly Father every day for this opportunity.

Zone we had 3 zones combine for a large zone conference. It was absolutely amazing. Can I just say how much I love my mission president? He is so incredible. His focus is entirely on PEOPLE, and using the Book of Mormon. He is incredible. He is full of SO much love. I love him so much. He challenged the entire mission to read the Book of Mormon cover to cover before Thanksgiving. We calculated how much we'd have to read, and it's about 1/2 pages per day, which is TOTALLY awesome. He said that while we were doing this challenge, we would be inspired to know who we were supposed to give this Book of Mormon to. So, the whole mission is reading it, recording testimony in it, and passing it along. How incredible is that? I am SO excited about doing this :) We also had a sister's meeting with Sister Foote after the conference. We talked about how we can better work with the Elders. All the missionaries in the mission are super worried about flirting too we've gone to the opposite end of the scale...we are nervous to talk to each other. So, we're trying to find a middle ground :) I love Sister Foote. She is like my 2nd mom out here on the mission.

New missionary we had to go to a new missionary training this last week as well....which made the 2nd trip to Peach Tree City this week. We had to get up at 5 both days. Yikes! Haha :) I LOVED the new missionary training. I just love it period when we gather together as missionaries. I get spiritually fed, and I want to work harder. We had a discussion about some challenges on the mission. I decided to share one. I shared that it was difficult for me to gain the trust of our investigators. They assume I don't know Spanish (since I have a fluent companion, they just talk to her) and they don't even talk to me. I explained that I've had to work really hard to prove to them that I am trying, the spirit will help me teach them if they are willing to be patient with me, and that I love them and have a testimony despite my inability to communicate perfectly. I also added at the end that the food is really spicy ;) Haha, everyone thought that was funny. President Foote shared a story about his mission, and that he knew what I was talking about. He made me feel LOADS better. I've been trying to be a lot more assertive. I have to be willing to make mistakes, and be in awkward situations if I want these people to trust me, and see that I'm trying. Overall, it was a GREAT meeting.

Member missionaries....we need them. They are necessary. I have such a strong testimony of that. We had this couple we were teaching, and we had taught them almost all the lessons. Then all of a sudden they just stopped returning our calls. We prayed for a miracle. The Ayala's (a super strong older couple in the branch) called us and asked for their number because they wanted to invite them to dinner! Holy cow!! The Ayala's totally fellowshipped this couple all on their own. They invited them to dinner WITH us, and then they came to church that Sunday, and now they're progressing again. I am going to say this now, and I want all y'all (had to put some southern in there) to remember this. We need member missionaries. They are EVERYTHING in this work. I have such a testimony of that. We need MORE. You can participate in this work more than you think!!

Abraham and these people are a cute couple from Peru. They are VERY Christian. They believe only the Bible can be scripture - so there lies the challenge. We had a lesson with them. We talked about The Family: A Proclamation to the world, tithing, and how obedience brings blessings. Don't know how that was the lesson, but it was. They absolutely LOVED it and agreed with EVERYTHING. They want a copy of the Proclamation. Wow. Wow. Wow. I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY!!! EVERYONE NEEDS TO SERVE A MISSION!!!! AHHH:):) We became SUPER close friends. Abraham even told me he wants me to marry his son so I can be his daughter in law. Haha :) Too bad his son lives in Peru ;) I think they are a very sweet couple. All they need is a testimony of the Book of Mormon, and they are SET. :)

Sunday....this, and the rest of the letter is truly why I have joy in my soul today. Sunday was AMAZING!!!! So, the food gave me a lot of trouble this week, and my stomach has NOT been doing well, so my Sunday started out with a Priesthood blessing. I asked Brother Kenworthy (a random white family in the ward) to give me the blessing. It was absolutely perfect, and everything I needed. I love the Priesthood, and I am so grateful for it :) Then.....oh then.....remember Ana? She's the lady who referred herself Well, we only had one lesson with her, and haven't been able to meet with her because she's super busy. Well, SHE CAME TO CHURCH AND BROUGHT HER TWO KIDS!!!!!!! We coordinated a ride with a member (go members!!) since she doesn't have a car...and she came. She absolutely LOVED church. LOVED it. And her kids. Edmond is 12 and Ayadi is 8. They are SOOO adorable!!!! I can't even handle it! They were so happy to be there. She is such a sweet lady. I love her SO much. I have truly seen SOOOO many miracles. So many. It's amazing. It was a great Sunday. Absolutely amazing. So, since it was fast Sunday, we had testimony meeting. It was the most amazing meeting I've ever been in. No joke. Sometimes testimonies turn into a huge story, or people try to make it a talk, or even group therapy sometimes. Sometimes testimony meeting has lost the power of a simple statement of truth. I sat in this testimony meeting, and I watched as at least 10 people from the branch filed up one after another to bear SIMPLE truth of the Gospel. It was all simple. I could understand every word. It was so powerful. I was so grateful to be sitting next to Ana, and watch her watch others go up to the pulpit and bear testimony of their Savior, the Book of Mormon, and the Atonement. It was a great meeting. I love the Chamblee branch. I love them SOOO much. If there's one thing they are amazing at, it's fellowshipping. Every investigator that comes instantly has 50 new friends. I am so grateful to be serving in such a sweet branch.

Walter....okay. I love this man with all my heart. Let me just explain everything that's happened with him. The missionaries taught him a couple years ago, and invited him to baptism. He said he would if he learned more. Then they just lost contact with him. Sister Gallardo, when she came, had tried really hard to contact him when she saw him in the area book. He never responded. Then, about 1 week before I came, he answered, and they taught him one lesson. Then after I came, he was never home and never answered. Slowly, we started getting him to respond to us. We'd randomly stop by and visit, call him, send him a text, ANYTHING we could do. Then something changed in him after we taught him the Restoration. He has become our GREATEST friend on the mission. He answers ALL our calls. He is the kindest man I've ever met. He has three kids, and his wife is always working. He isn't working because he fell off a roof and got seriously injured about a year ago, so he can't work until he gets better. He has a lot of pain at night, and his memory is really bad. After that first lesson, he was always gone, or cancelled our lessons. He told us he felt SUPER bad, and SUPER guilty. He really wants to hear, but he always has to drive people places (he has a car, and giving rides is how he makes money). He hasn't come to church because he's either in too much pain, or he forgets. We've taught him about 5 times now. He truly loves this gospel. He loves the book of Mormon, and really wants to come to church. We invited him to baptism, and he really wants to pray about it. We call him everyday, and he is planning on being baptized on September 26th. He is so incredible. I love him so much. He has such a strong testimony, and I believe HE believes this church is right for him. His brother has sparked some interest as well. He wanted a book of Mormon, and the pamphlets we were using. HOW AWESOME???? His kids are interested too. They love it when we come over :) I seriously love teaching him. We are teaching him tomorrow, and he is going to tell us his answer about baptism. Pray for him! :)

Ana....where do I even start???? SHe is amazing. She referred herself on We came and taught her the 3 gifts, and 5 steps lesson. She really liked it. I invited her to baptism, and she said she would when she learned more. We kept trying to schedule lessons, but she was always in South Carolina trying to get her papers, or looking for a job, or babysitting. So, we called her Saturday and invited her to church, and she came the next day. THEN, we came and taught her and her kids yesterday. We promised them brownies, so we brought them brownines. Edmond said he trusts us now. :) Haha. We taught them the Gospel of Jesus Christ because we felt they needed that most. It was a GREAT lesson. Ana said her kids have never focused this much, or been this interested in something before. They had questions, answered our questions, and wanted to read out of the pamphlet and participate! It was incredible!! We invited all three to be baptized on September 19th, and they all said yes. We put the date in their phone, and they are SOOOO excited. WE HAVE A FAMILY ON DATE FOR BAPTISM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have never been so happy about anything....ever. They are the sweetest family I have ever met!!! I am sooooo excited!!!! The Lord truly is preparing his people. Ana, her family, and Walter are all prepared. I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to be a part of this amazing work. I am blessed every day.

Well, I had the best week of anyone on planet earth, I am sure. I wish I could describe the joy I feel. It's joy from heaven. I get to feel a little piece of the love that God and Jesus Christ have for their children. Just a little piece, but it's more love and joy than I have ever felt before. I have a testimony of this Gospel. It's changed my life, and now I get to see how it changes the lives of others. Thank you to my family for letting me be here. Thank you for sacrificing me being at home, so that I could be out here - learning, growing, and experiencing joy every day. Thanks for all the love and support. I love you all :)


Sister Bringhurst
Milton, Sister Stewart, Sister Bringhurst, Walter, Sister Gallardo

Ayari, Ana, Sister Stewart, Sister Bringhurst, Sister Gallardo, Edmond