Monday, March 23, 2015

Hi Mom! Our week was great! We did service at the Salvation Army and had a lot of good potential investigators found. The word is that the new Yakima mission President (President Lewis) will be living here in 2nd ward. We also had super fun exchanges on Thursday with my DL and his companion and we even had "B" volunteer to come out on visits with us a week ago (1 day after his confirmation!!!).  He is so cool and is so happy with the gospel in his life. The Temple was an awesome spiritual experience as always. We're continuing to work with "R" and "A" on getting married so they can be baptized and we have had so much success lately with many other non-members and less actives! It is super cool! Missions are the best! We are even helping "I" (the 9 year old) to be baptized this Saturday!!!

Things are great!! 

That's why transfer news was bittersweet.

This is what we found out on Saturday night:

1.Elder P and I are BOTH being taken out of Yakima 2nd ward on Wednesday the 25th. 

2. The Zone leaders in Yakima 3rd (Barnes and Taylor) are taking on both their area and ours!

3. Elder P and I are being Doubled into Kennewick!! We will be companions over the Cottonwood Springs and the Rancho Reata wards!

This sort of thing is pretty much unheard of! Our bishop and several members of our ward are super disappointed that we are both leaving.. I don't know how I feel! It will be an adventure for sure!! Covering 2 new wards with Elder P as my companion still and neither of us know anything about the area... Pray for us! We hear that President Ware definitely made an inspired decision though from what our ZL's said after talking to him. It's pretty exciting news! We are very sad that we can't be at "I's" baptism but we are excited for her. 

Glad everything is going well and that you are all safe and happy! I pray for you every night and I am excited to continue my mission adventure. Have a great week!

Love, Elder Brinkerhoff

Spring is here!! :) It's so pretty!

Yakima is the palm springs of Wa. according to this sign! haha

Temple trip!

Some of the sidewalks in our area are super old! (1911!) 

GOODBYE YAKIMA!! (For good?)

Saturday, March 21, 2015

An Amazing Story!

This story is from the blog of Ron and Nina Jones, who are serving a mission at the Polynesian Cultural Center in Hawaii.

Walking Among Giants - Sery Kone from the Ivory Coast

The more we are here at BYU-Hawaii and the Polynesian Cultural Center, the more we recognize that we are walking among giants.  We are getting to know more and more students, many of whom sacrificed everything to be here. We think we know sacrifice. Elder Jones and I carry on about giving up our home and our possessions in order to serve the Lord. We worry over being separated from families for a period or lament the loss of a steady income.  We talk about aching bones and mental exhaustion after a long day at the PCC. These may well be considered a sacrifice.  But they are nothing compared to our students.  Our students would give all that they have to take on those blessings that we foolishly call challenges.

Let me tell you about Sery Kouma Kone.....


We have known Kone since we started attending the Laie Married 4th Ward.  He is the First Counselor in our Bishopric. Even still, we knew nothing about him or his personal story until this last Monday when he came to speak to the missionaries at their weekly Family Home Evening program. Sery is from the Ivory Coast, or as they refer to it, Côte d'Ivoire, a West African county that sits between Libya and Ghana.  It is the world’s largest producer of cocoa.

Sery was born in the large port city of Abidjani.  When Sery was 4 years old, his parents divorced. His father decided to pull him away from his mother, so he took him 1,200 away from his home and placed him with a woman he didn't know in a small village by the name of Kolia.  His father left him there, never to see him again.  The woman that he lived with was very poor and the only way to survive was for Sery to work.  He became a child slave.  

The woman was wise enough to know that children deserved an education. She insisted that the children in her home went to school. But when Kone was not in school, he would go to work, sometimes walking as much as 35 miles to a cocoa farm. He would work 10 hours. He was beaten if he did not work hard. He was not well fed. He had no choices, no protector and no hope.  He worked hard for 6 years. And then, the woman died, and he lost even the comfort of food, clothing and supervision. Still, he kept working.  

After a particularly hard beating by a rancher when he tried to encourage a tired little boy working next to him to rest, he said "I have had enough". He got onto a bus heading to the big city where he was born. He said to the driver, "I have no money, but my family will pay for me when we get there". The bus driver refused and told him to get off, but he was not going to go back to slavery. "I would not get off," he said. "I would not go back." After much arguing, a kindly rider paid for his fare. Kone went to Abidjani, a two day ride, to find his family. He stayed in the streets for 4 weeks. Then he was taken in by an orphanage and worked odd jobs as he could. He lived there for 6 months.

One day, a man came up and called him by his childhood name. "I am your uncle," said the man. Kone did not believe him and he ran away. But the man persisted in finding him. It turns out that he really was his mother's brother. He was a school teacher and he took Kone into his home. Later on, Kone asked him “how did you know it was me?”  His uncle answered “you looked so much like your mother, I knew it was you.”  

Kone found out that his mother had passed away, in great sorrow, because her only son had been taken from her. This left Kone embittered and frustrated. He felt deeply that God had been so unfair to him, and his anger boiled out of him. Now a teenager, he found entertainment in arguing with Christians, especially Jehovah Witnesses. For some reason, he found them an easy target for his anger.

Kone remembers a day when two LDS missionaries were walking by. He thought they were Jehovah Witnesses. "Hey," he called out. "Why don't you come here and talk to me?" He meant it more as a challenge, but the two young men replied that they were happy to share their message. They came to his home and began to present the Plan of Salvation. This struck Kone to the heart. He knew their message was true and could see from the truths they taught that Heavenly Father did care about His children and had provided a clear path for them to find happiness and someday to return home to Him.

Kone joined the LDS church and found much peace in being a member. His uncle supported him while he went to public school. When he was 20 years old, he went on a mission in the DR Congo, where he worked very hard. Following the completion of his mission, Kone was accepted to BYU-Hawaii, where he is about to complete his studies in Finance. He will soon be heading out to obtain an MBA at BYU-Provo. His goal is to become an Investment Counselor

Kone has served Heavenly Father in many ways, and he was blessed for it. He married a beautiful daughter of God in a temple of the Lord and is raising an eternal family. He has a beautiful baby boy named Kenneth.

With all of these blessings poured upon him, Kone had finally found a peace and joy he never thought possible. But he was not completely happy. He wanted more. This desire was not born out of greed but rather gratitude. He wanted to reach out to other children trapped in child slavery. He wanted to help communities to become stronger. He even wanted to reach out to the cacao ranchers and help them improve their systems so that they would not need to depend on utilizing low wage workers in order to make a profit.

Kone has organized a movement called WELL Africa (World Education for a Legacy of Liberty). Since 2012 WELL Africa has taken 300 children out of cacao farms to receive an education and over 250 women have received micro financing loans to start businesses. They have trained men in bee keeping. In 2014 WELL Africa completed the construction of its first school.

The next goal is to build a self-sustaining hospital in order to provide healthcare services to the poor communities in Ivory Coast.

Kone returns home in between semesters to plan, educate and build. “It is always an interesting experience for me to be back in the villages and to see what used to be my life. It helps me appreciate the blessings that I got. It also represents a great source of inspiration and humility as I see what I was and what I have the potential to become now that I am going to school.”

He knows that the key to permanent change is education, support and concern.“When a community is empowered and included in the search of solutions regarding problems it faces, this is the results! The 50/50 Partnership initiated By WELL Africa is working” he explains.

Kone shares that WELL Africa's mission "is to provide long term solution to the issue of child labor in the chocolate industry." My goal with WELL-AFRICA is to tell to those kids that they can rest, dream, and hope for a better future. I stand today as a driving force to get those kids out of the farms, offer them an environment where they can reach their potential, and build schools where they can make their own dreams come true.”

Sery Kouma Kone has asked us to help him tell the story of WELL Africa and to join him in the movement to end child labor. I am very blessed and humbled to know that I may have – in some small measure - the means to help.  I have connections. Those who know me well know that I have gone on a few medical outreach clinics to 3rd world countries. One of the organizations I worked with, Project Cure, has a program to donate medical supplies, including beds, and medical machinery to these types of organizations. I am trying to see if we can match these two programs up. It won't be easy.  Although the equipment is free, the shipping costs can be astronomical. Kone and I are working together to see if we can satisfy all of the clerical and monetary requirements to make this important goal become a reality. I'm asking for your prayers and faith that we will be successful.  

Kone would be the first one to say that he is only a part of an amazing group of people who love the children of the world and want them to be safe, happy and educated.  The members of WELL Africa are working hard to unite all parts of society - the haves and have nots, the workers and the consumers, the government and the medical personnel to make a change that affects everyone positively. It thrills me to use this blog to bring these important stories to my friends and family.  I hope that you share this with others not only for educational purposes, but also to for inspiration!

If you are interested in in learning more, please go to:

or to view WELL Africa’s Facebook page, go to:

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

It's been a crazy week!

Hi! Yes! We had "B's" baptism! Other than going to the temple, this p-day has been less than ideal because the zone leaders, Elder Plehn and I rode in a van with the Sisters (and a member in their ward who drove us) and the sisters wanted to make stops everywhere in Kennewick.... gahhh! We now have no time to e-mail which is really frustrating because I have so much to write about! We had "B's" baptism, Elder P and I got attacked by a huge dog in downtown Yakima (but we're okay!! Only he got bit and he's all taken care of!) I got sick during his recovery (stomach crud) and we went to the temple today, and a bunch of CRAZY stuff happened this week, so I look forward to your package and I can't wait until next week to write more! Gotta write Prez real fast and go!! SOOO SORRY! I LOVE YOU AND CAN'T WAIT TILL NEXT WEEK! Oh! Transfer calls are coming up, too-- so we'll see what happens!!!!

Elder B.
 "Because He Lives"

Columbia River Temple

Thursday, March 12, 2015

From a member in Elder B.'s area:

"Your son, the budding Chef"
A lady in our ward taught us how to make this amazing stirfry!

Monday, March 9, 2015

This has been a great week!

Dear Mom

This has been a great week! "B" is finally back on date and he will be baptized this Saturday the 14th! Elder Plehn and I are very excited for him. He has made a lot of progress and has overcome a lot of challenges in his life. He had to give up alcohol and now feels so good that he has. His testimony is so strong and he's already doing missionary work as a non member. "A" is very converted and began taking the lessons before "R" did. Now that she loves it and "R" has seen how much it means to her, he is taking the lessons! We are very excited! The only thing holding them back is that they need to be legally married and they do not have state ID. It was stolen in Oregon so they are looking for ways to re-gain identification. We found 2 new investigators this week named "B" and "H". They seem very interested in learning more! We are going to put them on date for baptism as soon as we can meet with them again!  We have received several referrals and we are seeing many great miracles as we are striving to have daily improvement and to be exactly obedient.

However I feel sick again... I hate colds!! They stink!

 We taught many lessons and had a good time, but on Saturday we locked ourselves out of the apartment haha Elder P left the keys inside... Thankfully something crazy happened the day before. We were given a Papa Murpheys pizza the night before (cook it yourself pizza) (We've had so many people drop off fast food when they sign up for dinners lately that it's getting ridiculous but that's a different story.). It was in the oven at the right temperature and it was barely on there for 10 minutes when smoke began billowing out and it was burnt on one side. We opened all the windows to let air in and get the smoke out. After that, I decided to leave one of the windows unlocked. Funny enough we get locked out the next day with no way in except through the window! The Lord is obviously watching out for us even in small ways like that! Missions are amazing. Little stuff like this happens all the time and I'm trying to make sure it all gets written down!

Our follow up with the Bishop and his family went well! After our dinner with them they invited a friend to church with them! She came and seemed very interested in learning more. We were introduced briefly and hopefully will be able to begin teaching her! The Bishop's daughter just got off of her mission on temple square. There's actually an article about her on the Mormon Times news if you want to find it! It's a cool story and she's a great member missionary. She's working with us on investigators and making sure we get fed on the dinner calendar. She sympathizes haha! Good things are happening in this ward. Miracles are happening everywhere. 

Great news! Just got a new referral on the phone as I was typing this up haha

Transfers ARE coming up! that's right! I don't know if I will stay or not. we will see! And I will let you know!

I am excited to get my tax forms and your letters! Can't wait to see Sarah's letter! She's so sweet. Tell her (And everyone else too) Hi and I love you! 

Love, Elder Brinkerhoff

Here's a scenic view of Yakima!! :)

Monday, March 2, 2015

Today is the 1/3 mark on my mission

Hello All!

Today is the 1/3 mark on my mission here in the Washington Kennewick mission. I am currently serving in my second area (Yakima) with my fourth companion Elder Plehn. He is 18 years old and straight out of high school. Brings a good spirit into lessons and overall is a great Elder! 
This week has been great! We had a hastening the Work fireside last Sunday in Selah. It was great to help the members there feel the spirit of missionary work. I loved it when President Ware said that no effort is wasted when you choose to extend even the smallest act of love. I can definitely bear testimony of that. We are trying to do all in our power to help those we meet find joy as we serve our fellow brothers and sisters here in our area. 
We enjoyed Zone conference on Tuesday and got teased with i-pads and a new pass along card for the new Easter video that should both be coming in the near future!
We have seen so many blessings and miracles as we've shown forth our faith and we've been striving to do all we can in this short time as the Lord's full time representatives. We have received several referrals and they have seemingly come out of nowhere! Pretty much unheard of in this area! One day we even decided to contact a semi-recent convert that fell off the map lately and she wasn't at the address we had for her. Later that night, she called us out of the blue! Completely unrelated occurrence! Turns out she moved to a new address and she was wondering if we would come over! The Lord wanted her to re-establish something for sure! 
I'm finally feeling confident and comfortable with my teaching. "B" is super close to baptism and will be inviting his family to church with him! Last week he brought a friend who was baptized as an 8 year old but has been inactive for many years. "J" is his name and he is very interested in coming back into activity. "A" is helping her husband "R" with his understanding of the gospel and we've now begun teaching him! Once he is ready and once they are legally married they will be able to be baptized! "I" (9 years old) is now on date for baptism and her less active family has agreed to start coming back to church! Turns out she is a marble state champion and she is going to new Jersey to compete against other state champion kids in marbles! How cool is that?? 
We had a very spiritual experience with our bishop and his family at dinner. His daughter just returned from a mission on temple square and she told us of many special experiences she had there. We then shared a scripture about the Holy Ghost with them to really bring the spirit in. We asked them afterwards about who they know who could benefit from the spirit they felt tonight. Each family member was prompted by the spirit and had someone's name come to their mind. We challenged them to extend an invite to each of those friends and they agreed. We will follow up with them in a few days to see how it went! It was powerful to see the spirit work in the lives of this family. Our Bishop was very gracious to us and said many complimentary things about how he hadn't seen missionaries like us in the ward for a long time. We are now striving to have that powerful of a spirit in each lesson and dinner appt. we have. 
My mission has been amazing so far. I know that the gospel of Christ is real and that the spirit of God is vital in our everyday missionary work. There's so many more things I wish I could tell about but gotta get back to work! ;) Everyday is amazing as a missionary and I look forward to the next 2/3rd I have left to go. It's going so fast! Stay strong and remember that Jesus Christ lives and knows you personally. He will always be there. What joy this sentence gives: "I know that my Redeemer lives". In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

-Elder Brinkerhoff

Elder Plehn and I in Ellensburg at the end of our zone hike

Found this when we went up to Ellensburg for a hike last p-day:

 Saying goodbye to Elder Rasmussen at Zone conference

Here's a huge burger we ate this week. "Famous burgers and teryaki noodles" is what the place is called. Elder "C" and I ate there once and you can draw on a napkin. Mine got accepted into the table hall of fame or whatever it is haha.  You can see it next to my plate!