To my wonderful Mom! :) 

I'm glad the letters came ok!  I feel so late because I was sending Nathan and Sarah birthday letters (I've already given everybody cards beforehand :D).  How's school for them and Amy by the way?  Hopefully the cashier job is alright for Dean.  I'm also trying to send a letter to Grandma. She sends me a letter a week! I can't keep up with her! :D  

Transfers aren't for another two weeks at least.  They don't tell us who is going where or staying until the week beforehand, so I'm waiting to see what happens with that.

The Mission Tour was cool!  It was crazy to actually talk to Elders in the Quorum of the Seventy!  I'm not even sure where to start, but I wrote a LOT of notes! :)  Some insecurities mixed with overpowering feelings from the spirit made me tear up a little though.  In connection to what I learned during Zone Conference, we heard this story about Elder Costa:

Elder Joaquín E. Costa, General Authority Seventy, and Sister Renée Beatriz Varela Costa. Photo by Scott G Winterton.

A matchmaking friend set Joaquín Esteban Costa on the path that led to his conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ, a temple marriage, and leadership in the Church, including his recent call as a General Authority Seventy.

Joaquín Costa and Renée Varela were university students in Buenos Aires, Argentina, when a mutual friend, Alin Spannaus, now an Area Seventy, introduced them. A second-generation Latter-day Saint, Renée hesitated before accepting a date with the 21-year-old, who was not a member of the Church. After three dates she decided she “liked him too much” and felt they shouldn’t date anymore. At the end of the school year, he returned to Entre Rios, Argentina, where he was born March 8, 1965, to Eduardo J. Costa and Graciela M. Fassi.

Renée accepted a call and served in the Chile Osorno Mission. After she returned home, Brother Spannaus arranged for the couple to attend the same party, at which Joaquín asked her for a date. “I prayed and decided to give him a chance,” Sister Costa said.

Soon, Joaquín was learning about the Church. As he studied with the missionaries, Renée asked him to pray and read the Book of Mormon from beginning to end.

“He didn’t make it to the end before he received a strong testimony,” Sister Costa said. “He didn’t get baptized just to please me. We dated one more year and then married in the Buenos Aires Argentina Temple in 1989.”

Elder Costa received a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1987 from the Universidad de Buenos Aires. As a young couple, he and Sister Costa moved to Provo, Utah, USA, where he received an MBA in 1994 from Brigham Young University. They and their growing family, which includes four children, lived in Chicago, Illinois, as he worked for a multinational investment banking and financial services corporation. His banking career took his family back to Argentina for a few years and then to the Czech Republic and the Sultanate of Oman in the Middle East. For the past two years, he and his family have lived in Lima, Peru, where he has been working with a Danish investment firm focused on microfinance.

I personally felt intimidated because I wouldn't have known how to help him as a missionary.  I still feel like there's so much to learn and I would have been afraid of not relying on the spirit and saying the wrong thing.  I asked Elder Nielson while he was answering questions, and everyone assumed I was talking about being shy (ugh).  However, I had an interview with him afterwards and he wanted to make sure my question was answered.  I told him how I have had many different friends in my life and have seen too many different cultures and differences that I can see their perspective TOO well.  It's not that I'm afraid to talk. I'm afraid that they will take what I say the wrong way because that's happened so many times so far in my life.  For example, in the MTC we had a discussion (more like a debate) on the priesthood.  Sister 'A' still participates in church, but her family is anti for several reasons.  Her mom basically has a problem with women not having the priesthood. It was difficult to explain that the priesthood doesn't make the husband better or more powerful than the wife, and that the wife isn't just good for childbearing.  But that's the perspective that most people have nowadays, and I don't know if I can help others understand that.  

I told Elder Nielson how I felt, and I knew he finally understood.  He began to tell me that I knew enough, and there were plenty of things I knew that could have helped Elder Costa in that situation as long as I was pointing it back to repentance.  

Elder Costa bible-bashed with two Elders for a while and was determined to prove them wrong (he was offended that Sister Costa didn't want to marry outside of the temple or religion), but the normally quiet missionary was prompted by the Spirit and made sure he read a scripture about repentance.  That was a conversion moment for Elder Costa!

I learned from that Missionary Tour that it's not my weaknesses or abilities that will effect the teaching, although there is always time for practice.  I learned that if I'm living faithfully and use faith the Holy Ghost will teach through me.  

Sister S. and I have two progressing investigators, 'D' and 'H'.  We're planning on seeing 'H' tonight, but we talked to 'D' just last night.  We taught about following the prophets and obeying the word of wisdom, expecting that it would be a short lesson.  Unfortunately 'D' has issues with the word of wisdom.  He is hung up on the idea that he wouldn't be able to be baptized if he doesn't give up coffee or keep his covenant afterwards.  Now his wife is concerned about her intake of diet pepsi!  Then they started pointing fingers by saying what other members had eaten or drunken after being baptized.  I was worried, but I relied on the Holy Ghost as best as I could.  The two of us missionaries and 'D's' home teacher, Brother W., tried to explain that the word of wisdom was a personal commitment between him and the Lord, not just about what everyone else was doing.  We also tried to tell them that coffee, certain teas, illegal drugs and other harmful substances would encourage sinful behaviors, but he wasn't listening and just felt like we were talking about being addicted to them (which he doesn't feel like he is).  We all bore our testimonies about change and how we are not limited to our weaknesses.  I don't feel like he takes me very seriously because I don't talk much (or loudly enough), but I told him how I didn't have to go on a mission but knew it was the right thing to do.  I basically asked him if he loved coffee more than the Lord (ahhhh!), and told him I loved the Lord more than my comfort zone.  However, I couldn't think of anything else to say and he exclaimed, "she's done!".   I think he was just joking around, but I wasn't laughing.  He says he'll pray about it, and even though I'm still a little frustrated sometimes I'm not giving up.  I just know that the Holy Ghost helped us know what to share with him.  

There, I've written too much and need to talk more!!! 😅

I love you!!
~Sister Brinkerhoff  

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